Your stomach is in knots or it’s flopping around so much you feel sick. You are starting to sweat and feel your heart racing even though you aren’t exercising. And your mind is literally running in circles faster than you can keep up.
When I ask people how they manage their anxiety, they usually tell me they don’t. So how you try to manage your anxiety is often out of your awareness too. Think about it, do you try to manage anxiety by avoiding what makes you anxious or by turning to someone else to make you feel better? These are common, but you can’t always turn to someone else or avoid what you fear. Let’s explore some other options so you can feel more confident in how you manage anxiety.
If you believe the lies that anxiety tells you about there being something wrong with you, you will want to eliminate all anxiety to feel better about yourself. But if you recognize that anxiety is a part of being a human with an elaborate brain, then more options open up to you.
Here are some ways to manage anxiety in order to be more confident in your own skin:
- Decrease Anxiety: The first way to manage anxiety is to not focus on eliminating anxiety, but to find a way to tone down the anxiety you are feeling. Some common ways to soften anxiety are exercising, deep breathing, journaling, listening to music, meditating, and reading.
- Discern Anxiety: Sort your worry from the facts based on evidence, not perception and opinions. Decide which you want to focus your thoughts on, what you fear vs what is true. By focusing more on your thinking than your feelings, you will be choosing to believe the truth not the lies about yourself.
- Dare Anxiety: When you aren’t able to turn down anxiety and need to face your fears, work on daring yourself to tolerate the anxiety and do it anyway. In doing so, you create situations where you can develop new learning instead of predicting the same negative experience over and over again.
Believe it or not, some anxiety is associated with making progress toward a goal. When you are learning something new or stepping out into a new situation, you may notice anxiety. Focusing on the learning more than your anxiety will boost your confidence over time. And then you will be able to prove to yourself that anxiety has been lying to you. That is, that everyone experiences anxiety sometimes and it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.
Marci Payne, MA, LPC, a resident of Lee’s Summit, offers anxiety and relationship counseling at https://marcipayne.com. Schedule free 15-minute phone consult at 816-373-6761 ext 2.