I struggled with anxiety as a teenager. Probably not a lot worse than most teenagers, but it certainly affected the way I lived and held me back. This in-turn shapes who I live today to some extent. Because everything we do has an effect on how we are today. It’s natural to think back how you could have done things differently, and hindsight is a wonderful thing.
This is where listening and learning from others can really help. People with experience don’t just say what they think is best for you. They know from experience what does and doesn’t work. As well as how they could use the knowledge they have now.
Anxiety is something that a lot of people struggle with their whole lives. While others, like me, find ways to manage and overcome anxiety for the most part. Everyone is different and are affected in different ways. But one consistent factor is that listening to people who have overcome most of their anxiety problems can prove invaluable.
I learned a lot from other people and this lead me to think. What if I could help my younger self with what I know now? I would have conquered my anxiety a lot sooner.
So knowing what I know now, here are 4 things about managing anxiety I wish I knew years ago.
Talking to Friends Help, That’s What Friends Are For
If you have friends you don’t need to feel alone. Friends care about you. Even if they seem like they are too busy and preoccupied. If you stop and make yourself heard you will realize who your real friends are.
Surrounding yourself with positive people will lift your spirits. Being positive is contagious and infectious. If you surround yourself with anxious and negative people you will never lift yourself out of the hole.
If you find it hard to reach out to your friends there is a lot of useful resources online that can hook you up with the right kind of people. Once you know what your goal is and you are out to achieve it, it becomes a lot easier.
Focusing on Yourself Makes It so Much Worse
When you feel anxious it’s normal to look at yourself and try to find the answers within. This just prolongs the effects and you’re not going to find the answers here. Being alone is the wrong thing to do, you need to broaden your horizons and take on new experiences.
Arrange a meet up and talk with other people. This is why psychologists are so effective, they give people an open forum to talk. Although most of the talking is about the person on the couch, it doesn’t work without the psychologist to talk these things through.
Think of anxiety as being caught in a narrow mind-set. Widening your mind-set has the opposite effect. It’s a liberating and exciting feeling learning, talking and experiencing new things.
Learn How to Manage the Physical Effects
Anyone suffering with anxiety knows all too well how it makes you feel like you’re having a heart attack. The panicked breathing, feeling smothered, not being able to speak. It’s terrifying.
One of the first things you need to do is learn how to manage these physical symptoms. Learn how to control your breathing. Find something that calms you down like listening to music, reciting a poem, whatever it is.
As out of control as you may feel, you are still in control. Don’t just ignore the feelings or let them spiral worse. Do something to get these symptoms of anxiety under control and it’ll be easier each and every time.
Don’t Let Anxiety Stop You, Set More Goals
At some point you are going to have to decide if the anxiety you’re feeling is going to hold you back or not. One thing I should have done is carried on setting new goals. Things to work towards, no matter how small the steps were.
I took a break from setting goals while I was trying to deal with anxiety. I thought I was going to beat the anxiety overnight one day and everything would be ok. It was in fact a journey that took many years. It could have sped up the process by working towards little goals.
I work with people today who are stuck in their tracks by the anxiety they feel. If you come to a standstill it’s a lot more difficult to get moving again. Anxiety is a struggle, I know this as well as anyone. But put up a bigger fight and don’t let it define you or hold you back. If you need to set little steps, so be it. Take is one step at a time, you’ll get there.
If anyone would like to speak to me or share their own anxiety struggles with me I’m here to listen and help in any way I can. I’ve been there myself and completely understand.
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.