Anxiety: Learning How to Manage It

Anxiety is not a great mental disorder to live with. It makes it easy to pick out all of your flaws and tell yourself what needs work or what seems wrong. When you are your own worst critic, you’re also ultimately driving yourself in the direction of a head-on collision with your self-deprecating doubts. That evil voice in our minds can make us feel down, drain our self-esteem and confidence. As a result, it can affect our health and well-being. Anxiety can make it difficult to get through some days.

Anxiety is formed when you feel as though things are beyond your control and solutions seem impossibly far away. One common way anxiety levels are raised is when you consistently allow yourself to form harsh judgments about yourself. As these judgments stack up, they begin to outweigh the positive traits you possess. You begin to forget what makes you a valuable and unique individual. These traits become scattered and lost underneath the rubble and ruins of your psyche.

Growing up, I was very much a shy individual. I was uncomfortable being in the spotlight, so I found myself avoiding it at all costs. Looking back, I asked myself why I’m so uncomfortable being the center of attention. Maybe it was because I was uncomfortable with myself. So naturally, I didn’t want to attract the world towards me, thinking there was nothing worthy of seeing in me. I took piano lessons for eight years throughout my childhood. And every time there was a recital, I’d stare out at the audience and get heart palpitations, thinking the end of the world was coming. I was absolutely terrified of playing the one song I spent weeks practicing. Why was I so afraid to show people the results of my hard work? Because the minute I stepped onto that stage and into the light, I was scared of forgetting the notes. My mind deliberately ignored the times I did get the song right and forgot what I was good at. Now, I realized my doubts were just a hoax. Most things are when we’re too afraid to admit the things that we’re good at, because it feels as if they can disappear any minute. I completely understand how that feels. When things feel good, you feel like you’re on top of the world. But when you’re up there, you realize you can fall at any time. The higher you are, the harder the fall. It’s scary, because you know just how much it would hurt. However, making yourself stay at the bottom of the well where no one can hear you —that’s also scary, if not, more.

Before a public performance or a job interview, it’s natural to feel a little nervous. According to a study, cortisol levels are less likely to go up when people use the self-affirmation technique. One group of people made a list of their strengths and talents, re-affirming what made them valuable before participating in high stress-induced tasks. Their cortisol levels, interestingly, didn’t end up raising; whereas the other group who didn’t do the self-affirmation warm-up did experience increased anxiety levels. Before you go into a stressful situation, here is an effective activity you can do to stay calm instead of letting your anxiety take over:

1. Fill in the blanks to the following phrases and then look in the mirror at your own reflection, reading them aloud to yourself:

I am talented at __________ because I can __________.

My skills include __________.

My biggest strength is __________ and it can help make a difference in this world because __________.

One thing I can do that most people have a hard time doing is __________.

I’m unique because __________.

Someone else in this world is happier because I __________.

2. Then, repeat the following lines:

I’m not just enough. I’m more than enough.

I will always matter and be worthy of everything I’ve ever dreamed of.

I have nothing to be afraid of; fear should only be afraid of me.

Everything will be okay, and if it’s not, I can still turn things around so that they are.

3. Finally, smile and give yourself a pat on the back before braving into the situation.

Giving yourself self-affirmations is one of the healthiest things you can do because it takes away from the fear of not feeling like you’re in enough control to do your very best that acts as the root of most anxiety. By incorporating this activity into your everyday regimen, you can build a better version of yourself, walking out of the dark room and into the light. Always have the guts to embrace and grow into who you were meant to be without performing under the pressure of who the world tries to tell you to be.

What’s your opinion on self-affirmations? Do you have any other tips on how to cope with anxiety and negative thoughts? Leave a comment below!

 

References:

Weller, C. (2016, February 9). A Harvard Psychologist Reveals the Quickest Way to Boost Confidence When You’re Nervous. Retrieved May 26, 2017.

 

 

Edited by Viveca Shearin

2 Comments

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  1. Thank you for this, I will use this in the future as I get anxiety during social events such as eating in restaurants or dental appointments to the point that I want to get up and leave. But having a mechanism to help push through it will be very useful. Thanks!

    • Hiyah, thanks so much for reading! =) I’m still learning to manage anxiety myself, so I understand the difficulties involved, but it’s great that techniques out there like this exist so that anxiety no longer has control over us. I give you tremendous kudos for facing your fears every day! =)

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Written by Catherine Huang

Catherine Huang graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a BA in English. She has a penchant for storytelling, ramen, and psychology. Catherine is a writer for Psych2Go and looks forward to reaching out to its growing community, hoping to encourage others to tap into self-examination and confront life's challenges head on with the most difficult questions.

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