You don’t need to feel ashamed about struggling with anxiety. I used to because I was afraid to admit when I was having an anxiety moment. I was scared of what others might say or how they might perceive me. I was also fearful of what could happen if I didn’t have enough time to “brace” myself. How could I explain my need to cry, to take several deep breaths, or to take a few moments to gather my thoughts? With these “fears” I thought to repress my feelings was the answer, so I worked hard to hide my emotions. As you can imagine this didn’t work (and still doesn’t work). Yesterday was a challenging day for me, and I struggled. I allowed my thoughts to focus on things outside of my control and as I continued to replay those moments, it produced a lot of anxiety. When I came home, I needed a healthy way to cope. I used the process I outlined (below) to help me cope. I plan to use it as a part of my toolkit. I share it with you in hopes of allowing you to create healthy conversations about your own needs when you feel anxious.
Here are the steps:
1. Admit what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way.
i.e. What triggered your experience?
2. Allow yourself to “feel” and be okay with admitting your frustrations.
3. Don’t hide what is causing you to feel anxious. Confront it understanding that you are not weak, but brave for being able to identify what is bothering you.
i.e. If you are feeling angry, give yourself a safe place to say, “I am angry because…”
i.e. If you are feeling afraid of what “could” happen or has happened, confront it. Say, “I am afraid because…”
4. Permit yourself to express what is going on.
6. Know that your honesty is a strength. It takes courage to identify what is going on in your thinking and how it is affecting your day. This way, you can create a plan to minimize those stressors.
7. Be patient. Take one day at a time.
As a Christian that also is overcoming anxiety, I’ve learned that there is nothing wrong with having a plan to address my anxiety. Yesterday happened to be one of those days it took a little more effort to remain calm. When I was honest, God wasn’t mad at me for expressing how I was feeling.
If you are struggling with anxiety, know that you are not damaged. You are valuable, and support is available. The tips I have developed were a result of seeking professional help and having a safe community of friends.
You don’t need to struggle in silence. With support, you can lead a rewarding life and continue to be a blessing to those around you.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith- Top 10 Simple Tools to Reduce Anxiety