When we suffer from anxiety we can read a lot of advice on how to recover and manage it and it can all get very confusing. Below are some helpful tips to overcome anxiety which are all taken from my own personal experience and what truly helped me.
1. Listen to your body
When we first experience anxiety, it is, in most cases, because of a period of stress and worry. Our body cannot take any more. It has reached a breaking point and has said enough is enough. This may lead to feelings of anxiousness, feelings of panic, the feelings of detachment. It does not matter what the symptoms are; your body is saying “I can take no more”, which is where the word breakdown comes in because that is really what it is.
Now all your mind and body are asking for is a rest and time to recuperate. Do we give them that time? No, through no fault of our own we then worry about these symptoms, worry that we are going mad and wonder why we feel so anxious and so emotionless. This puts more worry and strain on our already overworked mind and body. With this extra worry and strain, we then begin to feel worse. We tell ourselves we must get a grip of this thing, so we fight it and worry even more. Well, I think you can now see the cycle we enter and why our symptoms persist.
This is exactly what I did for all those years while I suffered. The worse I got, the more I worried and so the harder I fought to get better. Obviously, all this fighting and worrying had the complete opposite effect and I got worse, so I worried and fought even harder and I stayed in that cycle for years before I understood exactly what I was doing to myself. We unknowingly always create our own suffering, we just don’t always know how we are doing it. Without understanding what is causing the suffering, then it is hard for us to stop.
So, the first tip, and probably the most important tip on anxiety I can give you, is to stop any battle you have with yourself and just leave yourself alone. You can’t worry yourself better. Battling with yourself just wears you out further and over-thinking your condition just tires you out mentally. Usually every attempt to get better has the opposite effect. This is the crux of my whole teaching on this site and in my book.
2.Embrace nature and look after yourself
Looking after your general well being is very important when recovering from anxiety, as it is vital not to create any more stress and worry whilst in recovery, while also nourishing your mind, body and soul. A good diet whilst recovering from anxiety is also important, as is cutting down on your alcohol intake.
I would also recommend just having time for yourself, maybe taking time out to just sit and be. I wasn’t really one for strict meditation, I mainly just switched everything off and just sat there with myself for 20 minutes and let every thought and emotion pass through me without any involvement. I found this really beneficial and a great way of practicing just letting everything be.
Embrace the outdoors
Step outside and take a walk, go for a bike ride or a swim. Try not to sit around indulging in self-pity at the way you are feeling. Getting out of the familiar surroundings that you find yourself in every day can refresh your mind and really give it another focus apart from yourself. This is a very good way of helping your thoughts become more outward instead of inward.
Exercise is also one of the best physical stress-reducing techniques available. Exercise not only improves your mental and physical health, it also reduces stress. It relaxes tense muscles and can aid sleep. Exercise also burns off all the stress chemicals and creates a release for all the anxiety and worry that can build up in our day.
3.Let go of control
The simple fact is, if you have anxious energy stored within, you are going to feel anxious. There is no escaping this fact. This anxious energy is the only thing stopping you being at peace. You cannot feel what you don’t have inside you. Knowing this fact can stop the futile attempt to get rid of your anxiety. Anxiety is stored up energy and you cannot destroy energy, you can only release it.
When you feel anxious it is your body’s way of trying to release this anxious energy, but you won’t let it do so. You want to defeat this energy so that you no longer have to feel it. This is why you go to war with yourself on a daily basis. You will tense against it, fight it, worry about it, take tablets, drink alcohol, comb the internet, seek counsellors, avoid it, anything so as to not feel it. But this is the completely wrong way to go about it and why this approach never works. Only by allowing yourself to feel it, can you be free of it. You think you want liberation from your anxious feelings when, in truth, they want liberation from you.
It took me a long time to see this obvious truth. It really was only when I had tried everything to rid myself of anxiety and nothing worked, that I started to see why nothing had changed. It was like I needed to exhaust every avenue before I finally woke up to what was obvious. That the only thing I had never allowed myself to do was to feel its presence. It is our instinct to avoid or move away from uncomfortable feelings, but with anxiety, it is the most counterproductive thing we can do.
4.Embrace your fears
Start to move towards your fears, as you may now know avoidance just does not work. By avoiding you are teaching your mind that you are in danger and so it will keep creating a fear reaction in the situation or place you are avoiding. Unless there is an obvious danger, there is nothing to fear in life. It is your mind that has followed your past lead through avoidance and has now become fearful of life itself, in places where there is no true danger.
Think of you as the parent and the mind as your child. It is up to you to take the mind by the hand and teach it through non-avoidance that you are fine and no longer need its protection. Your mind will listen to you and learn. It will watch and take notice of your actions. The mind really is innocent in all of this. It has just got the wrong vision at the moment and thinks it is doing you a favour by trying to protect you in situations where you don’t need protecting.
So the mind may keep throwing out the fear response initially, thinking that it is keeping you safe, but you, being the wiser one, understand there is no real danger here. You have to be the one who takes control and overrides your mind’s fear. You have to be the one who no longer avoids or tries to escape when the fear response is triggered. Eventually, the mind will follow suit and realise that you are completely safe and will switch off its protection system. This is the true way to overcome your mind’s false fears.
5. Forget the miracle cure
Just like I did, many people spend too much time searching for that miracle cure or the new magic pill that is just going to make it all go away instantly; the cure that so many people falsely promise. They may also be convinced they have missed something and that, so far, the answer must have eluded them. So, they keep searching and going from one false dawn to another. Trust me the internet hides no hidden secret.
If there was an instant cure then we would all know about it and someone would be very rich. You didn’t get to this point overnight and you won’t recover overnight. If someone is promising you this, then I would quickly turn the other way. I tried every so-called cure available to me until I realised the cure must come from within. True recovery comes through having the correct information, the application of it and a little patience.
One vital part of understanding recovery is recognising that we will have setbacks; they are part of the process involved in becoming the person you once were. Recovery does not always work in straight lines and can be an up and down affair. Once we realise that fact it can help us tremendously as too many people let these times throw them back into total despair.