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Working on Anxiety Is a Difficult Journey

Working on anxiety is a difficult journey. Anxiety is an exhausting burden that disrupts life. For some people, it comes and goes. For others, it can last for a long time, sometimes years. Either way, it can seem to wreak a lifetime's worth of havoc. The good news is that anxiety isn't who you are. It's something you experience. This means that you can reduce it and minimize its effects on your life and wellbeing. Despite how hard it is, you've got what it takes to tackle it. Here's why and how.

Working on Anxiety Is Hard Because Anxiety Is Tough

Anxiety isn't just a bunch of worries that can be ignored. Anxiety is all-encompassing, and it invades thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, bodily functioning, and behaviors. The list of anxiety symptoms is long. Because of this, anxiety can plague people day and night. Anxiety is a persistent and unwelcome third wheel that accompanies people wherever they go and in whatever they're doing. It's obnoxious, and it's stubborn. It's downright tough.

Anxiety is also highly individualized. While its symptoms and effects are seemingly endless, it impacts each person uniquely. There is a variety of anxiety disorders, and even within the same disorder there are individual differences. Two different people might experience generalized anxiety disorder, for example, but each one will likely have a different experience with it. The nature of the worries will differ, as will the symptoms and how it impacts their lives.

This means that anxiety can be very difficult to treat. There isn't a single approach to helping this very difficult life experience. Not only that, but researchers are still working to understand anxiety and anxiety treatments. Much progress has been made, but there is a very long way to go. 

Whether you've been dealing with anxiety for a long time or it's a new experience for you (it can strike at any age and at any time, and it can be triggered by something specific or seem to strike without a direct cause), know these truths:

  • You're not making it up. It's a real and legitimate experience.
  • You're not weak. Anxiety isn't a character flaw and has nothing to do with who you are as a person. (In fact, people with anxiety have a lot of strengths.)
  • Anxiety often feels overwhelming and daunting because it's tough and it's strong.
  • You are capable of working on anxiety and thriving in spite of it because you're tougher and you're stronger.
  • Sometimes, you might feel like you're not tougher and stronger. You might feel that there's no end in sight. That's a normal feeling, and you have a right to feel that way. 

How to Keep Working on Anxiety When It's Tough

Because anxiety is so complex and because it's been part of the human condition as long as there have been humans, many strategies have been and continue to be developed to help people reclaim their lives. While anxiety never completely disappears, it is possible to weaken its power and live your life on your own terms rather than on anxiety's.

There are many strategies to choose from when working on anxiety. Just some of them include:

  • Mental health therapy
  • Medication
  • Self-help books, journals, and workbooks
  • Support groups
  • Meditation 
  • Breathwork
  • Mindfulness
  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Nutrition (eating healthy foods to supply the gut and brain with nutrients they need to produce and maintain things like neurotransmitters, important in keeping anxiety at bay)
  • Acupuncture
  • Using an emotional support animal
  • Gathering tips, tools, and strategies such as coloring, using affirmations and mantras, using distractions like fidget spinners, and much, much more

While there is much available to help with anxiety, it takes experimentation to figure out what works best for you. And to add insult to injury, sometimes a strategy works really well for a while but then stops working, sending you back to the drawing board. I use a combination of many of the above strategies for that very reason, and sometimes they work better than others. 

Most of the anxiety-reducing approaches in that list seem straightforward and simple on the surface. The thing about anxiety, though, is that it really is tough, and it makes everything complex. In a recent post, I discussed the power of breathing as a simple technique to reduce anxiety and regain energy. A comment was made pointing out that it isn't simple to practice deep breathing when you have anxiety. That is true. The technique itself is simple because it doesn't require special equipment, it doesn't cost a dime, and it is always with you. However, anxiety isn't simple, nor is working to reduce it. 

Anxiety is not easy to beat, and it's okay to feel frustrated. There is so much more to you than anxiety, though. You can draw on your intelligence, knowledge, creativity, resilience, perseverance, stubbornness, feistiness, self-compassion, character strengths, talents, abilities, passions, purpose, and so, so much more to thrive despite anxiety. Working on anxiety is a life-long journey with no quick and easy fixes, but it's one that you can own. You can take positive action. You can shape your thoughts. You can allow yourself to feel what you feel. And you can do it again and again through success and setbacks. 

I invite you to tune in to this video for some tips on how to work on anxiety even though anxiety is tough and frustrating. 

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2021, July 1). Working on Anxiety Is a Difficult Journey, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, May 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2021/7/working-on-anxiety-is-a-difficult-journey



Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, and Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps. She has also written five critically acclaimed, award-winning novels about life with mental health challenges. She delivers workshops for all ages and provides online and in-person mental health education for youth. She has shared information about creating a quality life on podcasts, summits, print and online interviews and articles, and at speaking events. Tanya is a Diplomate of the American Institution of Stress helping to educate others about stress and provide useful tools for handling it well in order to live a healthy and vibrant life. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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