Strategies for Making Peace with Anxiety
One of the most difficult obstacles to effective time management is anxiety. I have had my share of anxiety and panic attacks, and have battled the back-swing into depression. I have dealt with fear too: fear of disappointing others, fear of failing, fear of the unknown. I always believed the two were separate, but after reading this article by Lauren Jarvis-Gibson that I realized a few things. One, what I have is high-functioning anxiety. Two, I am not alone in having high-functioning anxiety. And, Three, there are strategies that can help.
While I now can give these behaviors a name, they aren't new to me. In fact, because I have been dealing with them for so long, I have actually developed strategies for dealing with my anxiety that have increased my productivity and helped me make peace with it. Here are my top 5
Admit you are anxious. One of the biggest blocks in making peace within anxiety is the refusal to admit we are anxious. There is no fault, no blame, no condemnation for having anxiety. When we try to ignore it or avoid it we can actually cause more anxiety for ourselves. It's like trying to hold back a wave; the harder we try to hold it back, the bigger it feels. When we admit we are feeling anxious however, we allow those feelings to wash over us, giving us more space to breathe and can then take steps to deal with it.
Seek Help. It's scary to admit to someone all the fears and anxious thoughts we have, especially when previous doctors or friends or parents have told us things like "It's all in your head" or "You need to pray more" or "There's nothing wrong with you." Don't give up. Seek out a professional Christian counselor. I have. Many times. It's worth it. You can also join a local support group. One in the St. Louis area that I love and attend regularly is Fearless Women STL.
Recognize the Strength in your Weakness. Most of us believe anxiety is a weakness, but I don't agree. It can absolutely be a strength when viewed in a different perspective. That need I have to always be busy (number 11 on her list), can actually help me be productive when I set up healthy boundaries around my busyness. When, for example, I recognize the importance of play and rest in addition to the work I do I can create a routine that gives me peace in managing my day.
Create a Routine. Anxiety often surges when we are feeling as if we are out of control. The day-to-day unknowns as well as the huge issues in our lives can create a deep feeling of overwhelm which often leads to anxiety. We will never know everything that is coming our way every day, but we can create a routine that will set us up for the greatest success possible. Choices like making sure you get adequate rest, proper nutrition, time for self-care and free time to just be are all aspects of a healthy routine. I know, you don't have the time for all that, right? Well, think of it this way, if you create a routine with all of those things built in, you will be giving yourself the best possible position from which to deal with whatever is causing you anxiety which will save you time in the long run.
Focus on Positive Self-Talk. It's not all in your head, but we can use our thoughts to either calm or ramp up our anxiety. How we speak to ourselves matters, especially in our thoughts. This is a habit you can develop. It takes practice and a willingness to speak to yourself as you would anyone else who came to you with the fears and anxious thoughts you are experiencing. If a friend came with a concern over her body image, what would you say to her? Speak Truth over your life. Speak Hope. Speak Love. Don't give up. You will break through.
We do not have to be afraid when anxiety surfaces; we can make peace with it instead. When we do it loses it's power to cripple us and frees us to effectivly manage our time according to our priorities.
Join the Conversation: How do you make peace with your anxiety?