Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) makes me doubt myself, turning me into my own worst critic. Self-deprecation is my specialty. “Don’t be so hard on yourself,” is a phrase I hear from someone else every other day. And yes, I am hard on myself, but I feel I am not as hard on myself as I should be. I had an entirely different article written and dismissed it as being (choice phrases that I won’t say on this blog). It is difficult to live in a partially self-constructed mental prison. Obsessive-compulsive disorder makes me doubt myself. It makes me my own worst critic of everything I do, say, or think.
Do you hate the anxiety that uncertainty causes? Does not knowing cause you intolerable stress? If not knowing what might happen, officially called uncertainty intolerance, makes you worry so much that it’s interfering with your life, know that you’re not alone. Many people who have anxiety, whether or not it’s an anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), also have difficulty living with any sort of uncertainty.
My anxiety over health insurance since my divorce 15 months ago, is increasing daily. While married, I was covered as a dependent under Tricare, the military’s insurance. When I moved to Idaho and eventually divorced, I found myself in what is called "the gap" in Idaho's health care coverage.1 It is a hole in Idaho’s health insurance plan where thousands of Idahoans do not have affordable access to healthcare coverage. Because my daughter is on her father’s insurance, I am not eligible for Medicaid. As it stands, I receive no tax credit for insurance because of my income bracket. Therefore, affordable rates for health insurance aren't available to me. I need anxiety treatment, and this anxiety over health insurance is not helping.
Focusing our thoughts is a powerful way to reduce anxiety because we're taking charge of our thoughts. A frustrating thing about anxiety is that it seems to take over. It invades our thoughts and runs wild with them. All types of anxiety involve racing thoughts, and racing thoughts are unfocused thoughts. Or perhaps they are focused, it's just that they're focused on worries, fears, negative self-judgments, and traps we're stuck in. You can calm your mind and reduce anxiety by focusing your thoughts.
My life with social anxiety disorder (SAD) isn’t much of a life. When faced with strangers, my social phobia causes me to avoid physical proximity, eye contact, and small talk. Though normally well-spoken, the attention of others causes me to stumble over my words. Thoughts of job interviews or parties send me into a panic. I am often frightened when faced with a crowd. Daily life with SAD is unnerving and often unpleasant.
Sometimes, knowing the main causes of anxiety isn't necessary. Sometimes, it's not even desirable because working to uncover the causes of your anxiety could do more harm than good. There are times, however, that knowing the main cause of your anxiety can be very helpful because it gives you something tangible to address. Let's look at two main causes of anxiety and discover how to remove them.
Anxiety jabbers incessantly, creating maddening and anxious running commentary in our heads. To make it worse, anxiety acts as a translator and interprets what we hear and see, twisting things into its own warped ideas. With anxiety translating messages we receive, we often misinterpret the world around us. Anxiety's untrustworthy thoughts lead to self-doubt, faulty reasoning, negative beliefs, overthinking, and overanalyzing. Becoming aware of how the anxious voice in your head translates our incoming messages is an important step in correcting the translations and quieting the anxious running commentary that interrupts your inner speech.
My life is chaos and that makes coping with anxiety difficult. In this house, there is always something going on, whether it’s family drama, the dogs barking at everything, or something essential changing. At present, there is no clear path to my desk because my aunt recently moved in. I know I will go to the storage unit soon and fix this overcrowded situation. In the meantime, it is hard not to let the abundance of personal belongings drive me to distraction. For me, I have to find ways to get things done with anxiety even when life is in chaos.
Mental health experts agree: feeling and expressing gratitude helps anxiety. However, when you live with anxiety, it hardly seems possible that gratitude can lower or help anxiety. For one thing, it can be challenging to find things for which to feel grateful when you're living in the grips of anxiety. For another, how can being grateful for something help anxiety? Once you know what gratitude is and is not, you can use thankfulness to improve your mental health. Even better, you can get light-hearted (something refreshing when you have anxiety) and play a gratitude game to reduce anxiety.
Put your anxiety relief into your own hands with do-it-yourself (DIY) mindfulness tools. Make some objects to add to your growing toolbox of strategies to lower your anxiety. An anxiety toolbox refers to techniques you use to reduce anxiety, both in the immediate moment and long term. Some tools are actual objects, such as a jar of bubbles to foster slow, deep breathing. Other comfort objects reduce anxiety as well. Here are three mindfulness tools you can make for DIY anxiety relief.