No matter how much self-growth we go through, no matter how much progress we make, and no matter how far we come in improving ourselves – we can always use a helpful reminder every now and again.
If you’ve made it to the end of my anxiety series – congratulations! With all the things you’ve learned throughout these articles (and on your journey within yourself), you’re well on your way to living a happier, more fulfilling, less anxious life!
For my last article in the series, I thought I’d bring together all the amazing things we’ve learned throughout the posts into one cohesive list. Think of it as a one-stop guide that you can come back to over and over when you need an extra little pick-me-up or a bit of help getting back on track (because let’s be honest – we ALL do every now and then!)
So without further ado, here are the top 10 things to remember when it comes to your anxiety!
Just want to let ya know: The information and tips on this website are from my personal experience with anxiety and are not a substitute for any type of medical, psychological or health advice. My goal is to empower people struggling with anxiety in non-traditional ways that they can do alongside professional help.
There is always help out there, and you can find a mental health professional locally, through your doctor, or through an online directory like this one. This is a link to a great article with affordable therapy options and this is an affiliate link to a great online therapy option. If you are in a crisis, I have a list of help hotlines here. You are not alone!!
1) Thoughts are just thoughts. You don’t need to give meaning to them
You are not always going to have happy thoughts – you will sometimes have negative thoughts. This is just the reality of being human. In fact, it’s one of the things that unifies each and every one of us! But remember: they are just thoughts.
Thoughts are not always true, and they certainly don’t define who you are. In fact, a thought is really just a sentence passing through your mind. It has no power on its own unless you give it power. It doesn’t become real unless you accept that it’s real.
This is one of the most life-changing realizations you can make when it comes to overcoming anxiety. And trust me, once you truly understand this, it will change you life in so many freeing ways!
2) Understand what your anxiety is telling you
Anxiety isn’t something that you’re born with and you have to live with forever. Quite the opposite. YOU have the power, and to harness this power, first you must truly understand your anxiety.
Think about why you might be anxious or what your anxiety might be trying to tell you.
In essence, anxiety is trying to protect you, so you can dig a bit further to see if you really need to be protected from it. Maybe the “threat” isn’t actually so bad.
Try asking yourself what negative thought patterns may be contributing to it. Was there anything that happened in your past to make you behave the way you are now? Is there a recurring thought/fear that is constantly bubbling below the surface?
If you’re serious about beating your anxiety, you need to be serious about becoming a researcher of your anxiety. Study it, analyze it, and know it. Only then will you know the ins and outs of how to uproot it.
3) Your brain has the ability to change
We humans really are SO much more powerful than we give ourselves credit for! Thanks to neuroplasticity, our brains have the ability to change. You brain can form new neural pathways at any point in time, which means that it’s never too late to change your thought patterns. That’s why cognitive behavioural therapy is so effective!
Essentially, it’s within our power to learn to think differently about anything we want to think differently about (*ahem* anxiety *ahem*).
So even though you might think that your brain is just wired to be anxious, it might be that way right now – but you can change it so that it isn’t! How amazing is that?
But be warned, this might involve some difficult steps, like facing your fears, asking for help, taking some time off, changing the people you hang out with, or seeing a professional.
Related Article: How Negative Thinking Gets Wired into Your Brain
4) Don’t feed your fears
The more you focus on your fears and the more you research all the terrible things that “could” happen, the stronger your anxiety will become and the more you will suffer. The more you give them power, the tighter their hold will be on you.
You need to starve your fears. Stop looking into them, stop dwelling on how much they’re impacting your life, and stop defining yourself by them. This is only adding fuel to the flame!
I realize that this is a very difficult thing to do, and that’s why it takes time and practice. You may need to reach out for some professional help (always a good idea). You can also try some of my journal exercises that are great for reducing your fear.
5) Remember your strengths – they’re much stronger than your fears
The unfortunate thing about us humans is that our pesky brains are designed to focus more on the negative things in life rather than the positive things (I know – SUCH a bummer!). This is why when we have anxiety, we often focus only on how difficult the anxiety is making our lives.
You can’t forget the other side of the story though – the brighter side. You are an amazingly unique individual. You have SO many talents and SO many strengths. Pay attention to these things more. When you’re feeling anxious about something, you’ll typically imagine the worst case scenario. And in that scenario, you usually forget to think about all of the things that you would do to make that situation better.
Try this right now: jot down something you’re anxious about, and underneath it – write down 5 strengths you have that could help you if your fear ended up coming true. I’ll bet that you’ll feel less anxious about it.
Once you start to realize your strengths, you’ll start to realize that your fears won’t stand a chance!
6) Your physical health is entirely linked to your mental health
Your mental health isn’t just your psychological health. In reality, your mental health is an umbrella term that’s made up of several different aspects. And one of the most important of those aspects is your physical health.
If you don’t take proper care of your body, your mind will suffer. Just like your eyes are the window to your soul, your body is the mirror to your mind. The more you treat your body well, the more you’ll heal your mind.
The best part about this is that taking care your physical health is incredibly easy. It just involves making a few simple yet SUPER important lifestyle changes.
Related Article: 4 Ways Your Physical Health Can Heal Your Mind
7) Managing and overcoming anxiety is a skill like any other – you need to practice
Overcoming anxiety won’t happen overnight (but wouldn’t that be nice if it did!). It’s going to take some commitment and some practice. But don’t worry – because even Beethoven was a beginner once! For many, it seems like we just have a mental illness that we’re stuck with. And while it’s not fair that you have anxiety and it’s not something that anyone should have to go through, it’s your job to take control of it if you want to feel better.
All it starts with is dedication to a cause. If you’re dedicated to making a positive change in your life, then you’re totally on the right track. It’s this motivation that’s going to push you to practice incorporating the positive habits EVERY single day.
Practice, practice, practice – you’ll soon reap the benefits. Steps will turn into jumps, jumps will turn into strides, and before you know it, you’ll have made leaps and bounds of progress (and will be looking back at how far you’ve come with a beaming smile on your face!).
8) Everyone makes mistakes
We’re only human! We’re not perfect creatures, and we’re not supposed to be perfect creatures (I mean, we’re not dogs!).
Sometimes in our anxiety journey, we can be doing REALLY well and then all of a sudden have ONE bad day (or week, or month). This is okay. You NEED to remember that this is okay. No journey is without its roadblocks and U-turns. Things happen. Life happens. We must learn from our mistakes instead of letting them get us down. Mistakes are our greatest teachers.
9) Don’t take life too seriously (hear me out!)
This is something that you might hate hearing if you have anxiety, but let me try to help you reframe this advice.
We’re here on this earth to enjoy ourselves, not to go from one worry to the next.
Try this: If you were someone who didn’t have anxiety, think about what you would want to be doing instead. Would you be hanging out with friends? Working on a passion project? If you were in a stressful situation, how would you see the best of it?
When I’m feeling anxious, I often try to think about how someone who doesn’t have anxiety would think. I think about how I can turn a bad situation into a better one. This is actually an excellent way to reframe negative experiences and to train your brain to be more positive (and hence, less anxious!). I have some small exercises that you can do to help you with reframing some thought patterns in my stress and self-care worksheets at the bottom of this page!
Relax, take a deep breathe, and smile. Things are going to be okay. You will be okay. Life is good, the world is fun, and the Universe is giving you a great big smile. Now go on out and ENJOY it!
10) You deserve to be happy
You have so much to offer the world and the world has so much to offer you. Your life is meant to be a happy life – all you have to do is go on out there and claim it.