Anxiety sucks. Seriously, after all the clinical jargon has been used up, after all the explanations in the world give us a scientific answer for why we are feeling anxious, at the end of the day, anxiety just sucks.
Anxiety makes us feel like we are running out of time. Anxiety grips us and messes with our concentration, our decision-making, and any sense of peace we might otherwise feel. So what do we do when we’re really anxious? What can really be done about anxiety?
You’ve heard that you should try to slow your breathing down. You understand that your body cannot physically be in a state of relaxation and anxiety at the same time, but seriously, can just taking slow, deep breaths really help?
You know anxiety has to do with your self-talk. You know that the more extreme language you use to describe things, even in your mind, that the more intense your anxiety will be (i.e., there is a big difference between saying to myself “I can’t take this!” and “This is uncomfortable, but I can handle it), but can changing your self-talk really help you feel less anxious? I mean, really?
You know that certain foods don’t sit well with your digestive system and certain substances exacerbate anxiety, but can changing your diet actually help you feel less anxious? Come on now; that seems a little tough to swallow.
You’ve probably also read that exercise can help with anxiety, but you’re not always in the position to exercise every time you get anxious. I mean, what are you supposed to do when you’re getting on a plane, jog around the aisles?
What about meditation? Isn’t meditation supposed to help? But I have to ask what we’re all thinking: Who the Hell can meditate in the middle of an anxiety attack??
Isn’t it a fact in the 21st Century that anxiety is due to some chemical imbalance anyway?
So what do we do?!
Anxiety pushes us to search for a fast answer because, remember, with anxiety, we feel like we’re running out of time. With racing thoughts and seemingly little time, it makes sense why we tend to panic when we’re really anxious. It’s crazy because we know that panicking won’t help our situation at all, but we do it anyway…. Why do we do this to ourselves? What’s wrong with us?! Oh no, there goes our self-talk again – look, now our breathing is fast again – why isn’t there real help for intense anxiety?
Hold on. There is.
There absolutely is real help for even the most intense anxiety, but it’s not a quick-fix help. It is true that anxiety refers to chemicals operating differently than normal in our brains, but medicine can only ever produce partial relief. Don’t throw your medicine out, and certainly don’t rule out talking to your doctor about potentially taking anti-anxiety medicines; but just know that anxiety is best treated by multiple approaches. The harsh reality is, outside of the types of drugs that can produce short-term, temporary relief, there is no “quick fix” to anxiety. There is, however, like I said, very real help for anxiety that can completely change your life.
Slowing our breathing down really does work. Changing our self-talk around really does work. Diet works. Exercise works. Meditation absolutely works. But here is something that you need to really understand (and I don’t mean just a cursory, “Yeah, I know that,” but really understand): Changing long term, intense anxiety requires a lifestyle change. It requires daily meditation, daily practice slowing down your breaths, daily, balanced self-talk, regular exercise, and mindfulness regarding what you consume. Change your breathing. Change your thoughts. Change your habits. Change your diet. And if you are willing to do all those, then yes, you will absolutely change that anxiety.
To me, anxiety sucks, so it’s worth it for me to do what it takes to keep it as far from me as possible. When it gets bad enough in your own life, I would imagine that you just might be ready to do all that it takes to rid yourself of it as well. After all, if you look up the downsides of living a healthy, balanced lifestyle, you won’t find nearly as many as you will if you look up the downsides of intense anxiety….