1. Anxiety is a mental illness and you should treat it like one.
Anxiety isn’t just something you’ve made up in your head, but a mental illness that needs to be addressed and treated. This doesn’t mean you need to immediately go on medication; it’s not for everyone and acknowledging your anxiety as an illness doesn’t mean that you’re required to take pills.
But realizing that anxiety is an illness does help to validate the seriousness of the condition, something caused by a multitude of intricate and complex factors. Recognize that this isn’t something you’re overreacting about or have made up in your head.
2. Your anxiety is not your fault.
It’s easy to blame yourself during periods of extreme anxiety.
Why am I like this? You may find yourself thinking. Why can’t I just be normal?
What’s so important to know is that the anxiety you experience is not your fault. You didn’t cause this. You did nothing so horrible as for the universe to force this on you as a punishment.
The simple fact is that things happen in life that we can’t control, so don’t waste time beating yourself up about it. Positive outcomes occur when we learn to effectively deal with the situations that are, sometimes unfairly, thrust upon us.
Know that you haven’t done anything wrong. Blaming yourself is only going to cause you to feel more anxious, so try to remind yourself that none of this is of your own doing.
3. Remember to breathe.
This may seem like something obvious, taking big deep breaths while in the midst of a panic attack, but it’s easy to get caught up in the moment when you’re experiencing bouts of anxiety. It’s as much physical as it is mental, and it’s important to understand that your mind is tricking your body into thinking you’re in danger.
Try to remember to inhale deeply for three beats and exhale for just as long. Let your chest rise and fall in a rhythm. Feel the air expanding in your lungs. Allow for your racing heart to slow down to more of a normal pace through the breaths you take.
Remember that your anxiety is temporary and that it’s impossible for it to last forever.
4. Find someone you can talk to.
Professionals are there for a reason and they’re there to help. They understand the effects of anxiety, it’s symptoms and the ways you can effectively deal with it. It’s important to find someone you click with and feel comfortable around, but once you find that one person who can help you through it, I promise that it will be worth it the initial discomfort of spilling everything to a stranger.
But if paying someone to talk about your innermost issues isn’t your thing, at least find someone you’re close to who you feel you can trust and confide in. Surround yourself with positive people and stay away from those who choose not to understand.
5. You are not your stigma. Your anxiety does not define you.
All forms of mental illness come with some form of stigma attached to them and anxiety is no exception. People fear what they don’t understand, and many don’t realize the complex symptoms that anxiety can trigger in those plagued by it. People might assign judgements towards you based on your anxiety or make sweeping generalizations off of what they picture when they hear the word “anxiety.”
Know that you are none of those things. You are not a caricature. You are not your circumstances. You are as much an individual as anyone else is in this world, no matter the preconceived notions that others may have.
Your anxiety may be a part of you, but it does not in any way define who you are. No matter what, you’re going to be okay and know that it will not defeat you.