To Overcome Anxiety, Divide and Conquer
Divide and conquer to overcome anxiety. Overcoming anxiety is a common, if not universal, goal among those of us who experience anxiety in any of its forms (Types of Anxiety Disorders: List of Anxiety Disorders). Unfortunately, doing so can be a daunting challenge that eventually begins to seem impossible. Fortunately, overcoming anxiety is not impossible, and it doesn't even have to be daunting. One way to move past anxiety is to divide and conquer; in other words, break anxiety down into manageable bits and reduce it piece by piece with intentional action.
Why Anxiety Can Seem Hard to Overcome
"Anxiety" is a term, a concept in the world of psychology and mental health. It's a little word that encompasses an ocean of issues. "Anxiety" refers to the way people think. It refers to emotions and how we feel. Anxiety refers to behavior, actions we take or don't take because of worries, fears, guilt, regret, and more. Anxiety pertains to a large group of signs and symptoms. "Anxiety" encompasses a lot of things, and for that reason it is overwhelming and can feel impossible to overcome.
The truth, though, is that "anxiety" is merely a word. Yes, it has deep meaning and can greatly impact our lives, but the word itself is nothing more than a group of letters. When we realize that, we can step back from anxiety as one, big, overwhelming ocean that is drowning us and break it into manageable bits. We can divide and conquer and overcome anxiety.
Dividing and Conquering to Overcome Anxiety
When we see anxiety as one big, overwhelming picture, we can feel as though the ocean is one gigantic wave crashing upon us and holding us under water. Breaking it into bits, dividing anxiety into separate pieces--individual waves--allows us to conquer it.
There are manageable ways to divide and conquer anxiety, such as this plan:
- Spend some time with it. Study it to understand your specific symptoms and how anxiety is bothering you and limiting your life.
- Divide. Now that you know some specifics about it, you know where you can break it apart. Awareness of your own anxiety lets you see the pieces of it.
- Contemplate those pieces. Which ones are the most troublesome, the most life-limiting? Pick one of the worst aspects of your anxiety, and separate it from the overwhelming word "anxiety." That's your first of a series of divisions that can take place over time.
- After the dividing, conquer. Looking only at that one bit of anxiety, ask yourself what your life will be like when that's no longer a problem. Be specific and describe what you will replace this bit with.
- Take purposeful action. Create an action plan that involves multiple small steps that you can take every day to work toward your goal and vision. It can even be helpful to divide these steps into little bits, such as focusing on what you can do each hour to overcome this part of anxiety.
When thought of as a huge concept, "anxiety" is overwhelming, drowning us with one, big, powerful wave. When we divide anxiety into manageable bits, we can take action to conquer it. Then, rather than drowning under the weight of a giant wave, we are surfing on a single wave. When that happens, we conquer our anxiety.
NCC, T. (2016, June 23). To Overcome Anxiety, Divide and Conquer, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2016/06/to-overcome-anxiety-divide-and-conquer
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
Have confidence in your ability to overcome the affects of abuse in your family, addiction, and anxiety. Having an agreement with yourself that is driven by your values and strengths. By focusing on those values and what they mean for your life right now, in the moment you're in, as well as the direction you want to move, you will shape your thoughts and your actions. And you'll be leaving the past and anxieties about the past behind. Keep doing what you're doing, and be patient with yourself as you work toward the life and relationships you desire.
Thank you for sharing what works for you. Exercise and sleep are proven to be effective to manage anxiety. You're right on about alcohol (and any substance) use. It's not uncommon for people to turn to substance use to deal with anxiety, but in reality, this makes anxiety worse. Regarding your experiences with anxiety, difficulty focusing and feeling like each day is your last are very common thoughts/sensations associated with anxiety. If your feelings become intense, reach out to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at wwww.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or 1-800-273-TALK (8255). And it can be maddening when people tell you anxiety is in your head. That, too, is a common experience. Well-meaning people who don't quite understand anxiety often think that anxiety is simply something caused by an overactive imagination or a tendency to blow things out of proportion. As you know, that is not at all true. You don't have to accept these statements. Just because someone says something, that doesn't make it true. Anxiety actually is in your head -- in a much different way than people mean when they say this. Anxiety is brain-based, and when you experience anxiety, there are very real, physical things going on within the brain (which proves that it's not something you're making up). For more info, check out http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/02/anxiety-its-in-your-head-your-brain/. Finally, you might consider seeing a doctor to see if medication is in order and a therapist to help develop useful strategies so anxiety no longer overtakes you. Anxiety is a very real experience that negatively impacts quality of life. It's also something that, with persistence and patience, you can kick to the curb.
You've captured anxiety very well. It can be relentless, and it is inherently very harsh and negative. Keeping things simple, breaking thoughts and experiences down and dealing with individual pieces is very helpful. Of course it won't make anxiety and its effects immediately disappear (nothing does -- it's a gradual process), but doing this will help you feel more control, and it makes it easier to develop action plans to conquer first one piece, then another, then another.... Trust yourself.
You are in the right place. HealthyPlace is a site to learn information, gain insights, and interact with others who are experiencing difficulties similar to your own. If you haven't already done so, you can go to the home page, www.healthyplace.com, and explore the menus to discover ways to connect and interact. You truly aren't alone. While each person's experience of anxiety, panic, and other mental illnesses/disorders/challenges is unique, people can share similarities and support.