Challenges of Living with Anxiety
Thursday, May 14 2015 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
Living with anxiety can mean a life full of challenges, and the challenges of living with with anxiety can be significant. Anxiety can range from mild to debilitating; further, it comes in many forms and types of anxiety disorders. Despite the differences in degrees of severity and the way anxiety is experienced, there is a common thread: anxiety can make life difficult. Add to this the fact that the experience of anxiety can be hard for "outsiders" to understand, and the frustration level skyrockets. Indeed, the challenges of living with anxiety can be daunting, but we all have the power to overcome them.
The Challenges of Living with Anxiety Are Many
Anxiety can feel like a gigantic, undulating force field surrounding us and trapping us. This anxious force field is often charged with a jagged current that sends jolts of panic and dread through us at the most inconvenient times. This unholy charge penetrates us, shocking the heart and causing chest pains; zapping the digestive system and causing all sorts of pain, nausea, and other distressing symptoms; pulsating the brain to set thoughts racing and often causing dizziness. This electric force field that is anxiety can make us feel wired and tired all at once. It can wreak havoc on our sense of physical wellbeing. Trying to function while feeling so awful is just one of the challenges of living with anxiety.
The effects of anxiety's force field don't stop there. Anxiety surrounds us, penetrates us, and takes us over. It, like a force field, becomes a barrier. Daily living with anxiety becomes an effort at best, daunting and nearly impossible at worst.
I once stood in an aisle of a grocery store agonizing over whether to purchase pancake mix and syrup. Anxiety buzzed my thoughts into action, and they spiraled out of control. I imagined, and worried about, outlandish scenarios that involved my ability to parent, the fate of my children, health, a sense of fun, and financial ruin. I worked myself into an emotional and physical frenzy over pancake mix and syrup. Anxiety can make even the most mundane tasks challenging.
Anxious thoughts can make us doubt ourselves, fear what others think of us, worry about things so much that we become stuck. A good night's sleep would go far in helping us transcend the challenges of living with anxiety; unfortunately, the force field remains throughout the night. It's common for people experiencing anxiety to ruminate, worry, overthink, and even panic at night. Anxiety feeds on sleep-deprived human beings. Anxiety can prevent us from sleeping, which increases anxiety during the day, which makes restful sleep even more elusive. Anxiety's force field grows more powerful.
This force field interferes with our ability to function, to concentrate, to interact with others, to remain calm, to perform the tasks of life, to feel well, and so much more. As mentioned, a force field is a barrier, something that separates someone from the world around him or her.
Again, outsiders often don't understand what's going on on our side of anxiety, and someone living with all of these challenges of anxiety often can't get past the force field, past anxiety. That can be very isolating. One of the most difficult things about anxiety is that anxiety and loneliness often go hand-in-hand. Anxiety is a beast that can overwhelming and paralyzing.
The Challenges of Living with Anxiety can be Overcome
If you have ever felt crushed by anxiety, you are not alone. This veritable force field traps a great deal of people. Combined, anxiety disorders are the most common of all anxiety disorders, affecting tens of millions of people worldwide (over 40 million in the U.S. alone).
Fortunately, we humans are strong. Anxiety likes to manipulate people into feeling helpless or powerless or inferior, but that's just a trick to keep the force field charged. It's possible to disable that charged barrier and overcome the challenges of living with anxiety.
Develop a Toolbox of Techniques to Rise to the Challenges of Living with Anxiety
There are a plethora of little things to do to reduce anxiety in a given moment in order to reduce anxiety and live more fully in that moment. Build a list of these little activities that work for you (everyone is different and what works great for one person may not work at all for someone else, so it's important to experiment).
The key to these is that they help rededuce anxiety temporarily. Some of your techniques, ideally, will be simple enough to do in any place at any time; others can be more elaborate and done at home.
Read blogs and articles to find ideas. HealthyPlace's Anxiety-Schmanxiety contains a wealth of articles that discuss tips, tools, and techniques for beating anxiety. Additionally, there are Anxiety-Schmanxiety videos on YouTube. I devote most of my monthly videos to providing anxiety-reducing tools.
Seek out ways to manage anxiety in the moment, and the challenges of living with anxiety will gradually become smaller.
Identify and Sort the Challenges of Living with Anxiety; Address Them One by One
Managing anxiety in a given moment is crucial to taming it. To truly disable the force field and enhance wellbeing, it's important to address anxiety's challenges.
Identify what, among all of the myriad difficulties, is the most problematic. What do you experience, when, where, and possibly even why (the reason underlying anxiety can be very important to address, usually with a therapist, but sometimes it isn't possible or helpful).
Knowing all you can about an aspect of anxiety will help you problem-solve and develop a plan for dealing with it. Then, move to the next.
Over time, in addressing anxiety, you just might find that you have overcome the challenges of living with anxiety.