You can understand mental illness more fully by reading great literature. Regular readers of this blog may have seen the video where I examined a poem by William Wordsworth and applied its wisdom to living with anxiety. I'm a former English major, and I firmly believe literature to be one of the most valuable tools we can use to come to terms with the challenges of life, mental illness included. Because this may seem foreign to many readers, I want to use this time to argue why you can understand mental illness better by reading literature.
By honing anxiety strategies for getting though your day in peace, you can experience calm rather than anxiety. Imagine living a full day, day after day, without being plagued by anxious thoughts, without experiencing the physical symptoms of anxiety that bog you down with misery. This life is possible and in reach of everyone, including you no matter how intense your anxiety currently is. Perhaps surprisingly, a way to do this isn't about battling your anxious thoughts all day. That's exhausting and keeps you focused, and thus stuck in, anxiety. Anxiety strategies for getting through your day in peace involve not struggling to change your anxious thoughts but to induce a sense of calm throughout your day.
Paying attention to signs that you may have an anxiety disorder can be helpful. Anxiety is miserable. Also miserable is not quite knowing if you have anxiety, something else, or nothing at all. This state of unknowing is in itself a sign of anxiety (bringing our list to 10). To help yourself solve the puzzle of what you're experiencing, read on to see if you have any of these nine signs you may have an anxiety disorder.
Why is it so difficult to feel sympathy for people with mental illness? Some of you may have heard the story I'm about to talk about – it gained a fair amount of traction online a few weeks ago. Regardless, I feel the need to share it again, because it so perfectly embodies our broken attitudes and inability to feel sympathy regarding mental health.
Anxiety is stupid. That’s how a high school student once described it to me. In that moment, nothing more needed to be said. Anxiety is stupid; it’s a plain and simple truth. In the next moment, though, something did need to be said. The truth about anxiety was incomplete. Anxiety is stupid, I agreed, and you are smart. Adding that second part, the bit about you—everyone—being smart shifts our attention ever so slightly away from anxiety and onto ourselves as people who are smart, strong, and capable of beating anxiety (it is, after all, stupid). Anxiety is stupid because it says you can’t do things. You’re smart because, despite anxiety’s lies, you can do things. Here’s why you’re smart and capable.
Explaining anxiety isn't an easy feat. As someone who studied English literature in school, I often turn to poetry to help me gain perspective. The great poets have been through the same struggles we have, and their work is an invaluable testimony of those struggles.
Anxiety zaps self-confidence. When it knocks out our belief in ourselves, anxiety often takes with it our sense of who we are, what we can do, and how we want to be. How is it that anxiety can be such a powerful force that it encompasses not only worry and fear but our belief that we are okay, legitimate human beings in our own right? Anxiety can chip away at self-acceptance, but there are ways to pick up the pieces and put them back together. You can create the courage to be self-confident despite anxiety.
It happens to me all too often. I work full time. I ride my bike to and from work every day. Theoretically, I should fall asleep the second my head hits the pillow, but I don’t - racing thoughts and a restless heart, more often than not, make that impossible. Instead of letting every sleepless night snowball into catastrophe, I’ve learned how to turn them into something more manageable. Here are some of the things that have helped me the most.
Believe it or not, you can do things to calm your anxious mind in less than five minutes. Even when anxiety is intense, even when your fear is heightened or you feel on the verge of panic, you have the power to take action to stop anxiety in its tracks. The beauty of these actions lies in their simplicity. You don't have to remember fancy techniques, nor do you have to have special equipment or props. You only need yourself, your anxiety, and a desire to be calm quickly. If you're ready, here are five things to do to calm your anxious mind in five minutes or less.