Anxiety is something we all have at times in our lives. For the most part, healthy anxiety prepares you for an event or situation and, although most people hate the feelings, they are there at least to give us energy to fight or run from our fears. Whether that’s wedding day nerves, taking tests at school or having an interview for a job you really want. That swirling in the stomach and the heart racing, prepares us for our best shot.
The trouble with anxiety is when it becomes our focus. When we dwell on those thoughts and fear the fear itself, it can lead us to harmful avoidant strategies and behaviors that can lead to phobias. Instead of facing our fears, we avoid them. We run away from the area that brings us fear, we stop attending the school that’s making us anxious, we risk our future by running and hiding from our fears and as a result we stagnate. Growth rarely comes from an even road. It’s the bumps and drains on the road we encounter, that shape us and forge in us the essential ingredients it takes to become the person we’re supposed to become. That feeling of not giving life our best short, that falling short of our destiny can have even greater ramifications than the anxiety itself when we become depressed about it. The heady combination of Anxiety and Depression can become a toxic mix.
When I was living my experience of mental illness, one of my fears was crowds. I lived in the middle of a big city (Leicester, UK) and during the peak Christmas period you couldn’t move in shops because of the crowds of last minute shoppers trying to buy their Christmas gifts. It was a hard time of year for me, you had to fight for every space you could get and as someone not comfortable with confrontation, it bought out my anxiety. Towards the end of my 30’s, I had become interested in personal development and, by this time, had worked through many other fears. Crowds was my next one. In a moment of sheer madness I applied and was given a job as a Crowd Control Marshall at Leicester Tigers matches. My job included maintaining the safety of approx. 150 patrons. During my first match, I remember shaking like a leaf. Confronting your anxiety can often be challenging like that. But something important happened on that first day. I walked away unscathed. I didn’t die. The world didn’t crumble around me. I actually enjoyed it. The next match came and went and again nothing happened. My brain had either been lying to me or had been misinformed. This is anxiety. Those things we worry about rarely ever eventuate. We waste so much of our precious time on Earth, worrying about something that may never happen.
So what can you do if you have anxiety? Firstly if something is causing you anxiety and it is impacting on your life, then it’s a problem. Take ownership of that anxiety and agree to work towards conquering that fear. Imagine what you’re life would be like without the anxiety holding you back. Who would you be? What would you do? What would you’re life be like? Imagine the anxiety as a brick wall between you and your goals. You will need to take a sledgehammer to that wall and reduce it to the rubble it needs to be so you can step over it into your future. Some fears can be overcome in the way I did above but it can be a risky path. Had something happened on my first day, it could have sent me back years. Start with smaller steps. Embrace small crowds, then find bigger ones. Once you are comfortable knocking a few walls down, knock more down. Keep moving forward. Find a new challenge.
If your fears persist or if you don’t have a support person to help, then make an appointment with your GP and discuss the fears you have and how they are impacting your life. For more information on finding the right GP click here. You may need to engage in some counselling to discover the root course of your anxiety and you may also need to go on some anti-anxiety medication.
For more information on overcoming anxiety click here.
I’d love to hear your encounters with anxiety. Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you fear most.