Monday, August 12, 2013

Is anxiety keeping you from living a peaceful, fulfilling life?

I’m still listening to this wonderful tape series call “Attacking Anxiety and Depression” by Lucinda Bassett from the Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about the tapes and what I’ve learned from listening to them.  If you’d like to read or re-read those posts about anxiety, you can find most of them by searching "Curing Anxiety" in this blog, or you can click here to get you started.
Recently, I’ve been struggling less with depression (hooray!) yet more with anxiety, especially when it comes to food, weight, and appearance.

Anxiety can attack you in many ways.  For me, a lot of my anxiety is the result of continuous worrying about my weight.

For you it might be: constant concern about your health, about other people’s problems, relentless worrying about your children’s well-being, guilty feelings about your past mistakes, a high-stress job or obligation, hypochondriac-ism, panicking or over-reacting in non-emergency situations, anticipating bad things to happen, obsessions or OCD behaviors, or “what if” or “catastrophe” thinking.

All of those reaction attitudes can turn into debilitating anxiety if you do not have health coping skills.

If you are frequently in a state of worry or stress, then your life is probably miserable.  Constant anxiety is not fun.  It controls your life, brings you down, and keeps you from doing the things you want to do.

You may think you have to live with it.  You may think that’s just the way you are.

But that’s not true.  You DON’T have to live with anxiety.  Anxiety is a part of life – that much is true – you can never escape it completely.  Yet, if you directly deal with anxiety in a healthy manner, you can have a more peaceful life. 

-First, you have to recognize the anxiety in your daily life.  (What it looks like, why you have it, and how it controls you.)

-Then you have to retrain your thoughts to steer you away from feeding into your anxiety and, instead, lead you to realistic thinking.

What are you missing when you give in to worry and anxiety?  Are you losing focus with your job or your hobbies?  Are you afraid to go places because bad things could happen?  Are you missing out on key moments in your children’s lives because you are too worried about their future?  Do you have trouble sleeping at night because you can’t turn off your brain?

Mainly, is anxiety keeping you from living a fulfilling life?

Personally, before I started confronting my anxiety, I was afraid of being in public places, I was afraid of not being in-control, I had a difficult time going to parties, I constantly worried about bad things happening, I made other people’s problems my problems, and I had extreme expectations of myself to be perfect in all things.  I had so much anxiety that I would make myself sick.

By listening to the self-help tapes, I realized that lots of other people feel the same way I do.  I wasn’t alone in my feelings and problems.  Better than that - I also realized that many people got over their anxiety and got back to their lives.  Well, after they dealt with it, they actually had better lives!

How you deal makes all the difference in the world.  The good news is; dealing with anxiety is a learned behavior.  You can change your behaviors.  Your habits got you to where you are now, so different habits can get you to a better place.

Your anxiety is NOT a characteristic that makes up who you are.  It’s not like your height or your eye color - you can’t change those aspects.
Anxiety is the result of years of negative thinking.

You can change the way you think.  It will take time and practice, but it is possible.  It may feel easier to change your height than your anxiety at first.  But with time, changing your habits WILL get easier.
The first step is believing that you can.

Come back next time to find out more!

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