Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you very far. -Jodi Picoult
When I read this quote, I was like yesssss!! Yesss!! This is soooooo true. Anxiety allows us to borrow trouble from the future by trying to control it. But it's the future, it hasn't happened yet, can we really control it anyway? Anxiety is defined as feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. The big takeaway from this is that there is a feeling and instead of addressing it, we avoid it, by doing everything but that, sleeping, eating, working, scrolling on social media, etc. The activities or things that cause us anxiety or feelings that we avoid can be but do not have to be things such as, not going to work and staying in the bed, it can be relationships, having uncomfortable conversations, or something that is keeping you stuck in an area of your life that you would like to do something different. Everyone has their own level of resilience and what you avoid speaks to your environment, your upbringing and where you are in life.
Did you know Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States? According to NAMI, Over 40 million adults in the U.S. (19.1%) have an anxiety disorder (NAMI.org, 2017). That’s almost 1 out of every 5 adults. These are individuals that have been diagnosed and many people, especially people of color, usually do not seek assistance for these and or other feelings, so if you feel like you are alone, you are not. Also, this doesn't have to be something that you continue to live with, you can change it. The work that you are willing to do now, will break generational curses. Your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will thank you for it.
Not all anxiety is bad, some of it is good. It is a survival response, it prepares us to do something; such as flight, fight, take cover, you know the fight or flight responses? It is only when we have had anxiety that continues to be fed that it no longer works for us. We feed the anxiety by avoiding situations that will bring us those feelings. For example, Iets say you have a fear of making new friends (which would be something great to work on while we are in covid, hint hint), or a fear of public speaking or relationships because you have been in a few bad ones, but instead of putting yourself in these situations and attempting to do something different, you avoid them at all costs. This feeds your anxiety and makes it grow.
So now that we have identified you may have anxiety or a fear or worry about something, what next? I am glad you asked, there are quite a few things you can do to reduce your anxiety/fear/worry in certain situations and since these feelings require you to do something, try doing something different. It can be as simple as noticing your feelings and knowing this feeling is not going to last forever, let it pass, this is acknowledging or accepting the feeling. If not sure how, see my previous post on acceptance: what it is and what it isn't. Another thing you can do is what I call, putting the feeling on trial. Ask yourself, is this a dangerous situation? Is this an emergency? Or what is the worst thing that can happen? Doing this allows you to think what the actual danger or consequence of the feeling, action or thought could be.
For more tips, tricks and other helpful techniques, talk to a licensed therapist or mental health provider.