When it comes to dealing with anxiety, there’s too much bad advice on the Internet, written by people who never experienced it.
This is different.
A year ago, I found myself in the middle of this nightmare. In a matter of a month, my, seemingly, normal life spiraled out of control because of a health scare and turned into a terrible anxiety, OCD and panic attacks that made me terrified to go out, talk to people and pretty much live life.
Thanks to some great books, rationalization and willingness to experiment I manage to bring my life back to normal without going to a psychiatrist.
Here I’m going to share how I manage to overcome the anxiety that made me feel like the world was about to end.
It’s important to note that I’m no psychiatrist. I’m just a guy who after stumbling through a lot of shit managed to fix himself, so take all my advice with a grain of salt.
Anxiety is just an emotion
Being anxious is not a problem, it’s just an emotion like disappointment, love and joy. The problem is how we judge it.
Anxiety is when we think we have a problem when we actually don’t have any.
It’s confusing I know.
It occurs because we judge fear as a danger which sends wrong signals to our amygdala.
Anxiety is not actually a problem, and the reason you feel this way is because you’ve enforced in your brain that it’s a danger.
This is crucial to understand.
How to accept anxiety?
When you feel anxious, the trick is to do something. Don’t sit there trying to think your way out of the feeling. You have to live your life as if there’s no anxiety going on no matter how you feel. You need to care more about your life than the anxiety.
What would you be doing now if you didn’t feel anxious and overwhelmed by fear? That’s what you should be doing.
Once I understood this, something clicked in my mind.
Once I made the decision that I don’t care if I feel anxious, there are things way more important than this I managed to recover quite quickly.
It’s the single most important concept to understand.
Don’t take your life so seriously
Go out, play and have some fun. And what I mean by play is go play football with your friends, pay a visit to an escape room, sign up for tennis club or just go somewhere drinking.
That works and I’m absolutely serious.
If you feel anxious or scared it doesn’t matter, that’s just a hint that you’re about to get out of your comfort zone. Take a deep breath and do it.
My biggest breakthrough in anxiety happened when I decided to stop taking everything so seriously went to a bithday party and got completely smashed. I’m not advocating that drinking 17 shots in 2 hours is going to cure your anxiety, all I’m saying is that being open to something fun is definitely helpful.
Take life a bit less seriously and enjoy things without thinking too much.
If you have a serious anxiety, that’s a MUST, it’s non negotiable, no matter how you feel.
Sign up for fitness, work out, run and lift weights.
Go for a 20m run first thing in the morning EVERY DAY until you start feeling much better.
One of the theories about anxiety is that you’ve stored way too much energy in your body and working out helps you get rid of all that. It also helps you teach your brain that emotions doesn’t equal actions which is crucial when dealing with unpleasant emotions.
Don’t eat too much energy
Energy = carbs and sugar.
Cut all that out and focus on meat, eggs and a lot of plants. Having excess amounts of energy only makes anxiety worse and leads to inflammation in the body that’s going to worsen your condition.
If you’re not burning all that energy by working out then you’re most likely storing it. This won’t be that much of a deal if you didn’t have anxiety at first place.
Crucial here is not to overthink it. You’re likely not going to fix your anxiety only by changing your diet but you can improve your condition. Just be careful with all the carbs and sugar.
Educate yourself about anxiety but not too much
Some people are able to rationalize their way out of anxiety on their own.
But if that’s what you’re trying to achieve, there’s something you have to be careful with.
The problem starts when you keep reading about anxiety even though you already know everything you need.
When you read about anxiety you reinforce the idea that anxiety is an issue and as you might guess, that worsens your condition.
If you were all right, would you be watching videos on anxiety?
That’s why if you try to rationalize your way out of it, learn all you need to know, then stop and never read on the topic again.
And if you’re hanging out on forums where people just talk about anxiety you have to quit immediately. Same applies to talking about your anxiety with all your anxious friends.
It might feel nice to share your feelings about it but it can quickly go overboard.
No issues in talking about such topics, I’d actually encourage it to talk it out without shame but there’s a boundary that when crossed it can turn into a victim mindset.
What do you teach your Amygdala?
Think of your daily activities as lessons to your amygdala.
Going to meet friends with the intention to have fun is going to teach your amygdala that friends = good times. Meeting friends because you fear being alone is going to teach your amygdala that you’re incapable of sitting alone and need others to save you.
Always look one layer deeper for the intentions behind your actions and live accordingly.
The reason why you end up having anxiety is most likely that for a long period you “taught” your amygdala the wrong lessons.
Ask why later
If you have no idea what the source of your anxiety is, you’ll probably be better off not trying too hard to find out.
That’s a mistake that I did and it made me spend countless thinking about it. Even to this days, all I have are theories on why it happened but not a clear truth.
Sometimes a small issue can push us off the rails. A simple worry or as in my case, health scare that made me think there’s something deeply wrong with me.
The thing is, all of this doesn’t matter as much as you think.
All you got to focus on is getting better. Once you feel good, you can dig deeper to identify where your anxiety came from.
When you’re feeling anxious, not feeling like a victim is hard. But the victim mindset robs you from your internal superpower to improve your situation.
Even if you don’t realize it right now, you’re way more stronger than you think.
By accepting life the way it is and taking full responsibility for your condition you’ll eventually start feeling like the one who can steer the wheel of your life by taking action.
When anxiety is at its highest peaks we always feel in like we’re in a prison, of our own mind. And that’s terrifiyng.
We start to think that this is how it’s always going to be and there’s no way going back to normal. But that’s not the truth, the voice we hear is just the fear.
If you believe that no matter how bad it is today, that’s not how life is always going to be, you’ll get better and in a year you’ll be looking back and thinking to yourself – “wow that actually happened to me”.
Psychiatrists job is to help you
If what you try doesn’t work, the best thing you can do is just go to psychiatrist. A close friend of my struggled a lot with anxiety, until he paid a visit to the psychiatrist. After 3 sessions he managed to bring his life 90% back to normal and these days is totally fine.
That’s pretty much everything I did that helped me get through the issue. I also did meditation, breathing exercises, different weird diets a lot of other things but they didn’t actually help me much as much that’s why I don’t mention them.
Be strong and never forget, that if something feels impossible doesn’t mean there’s no way out.