What if Managing Anxiety Is As
Easy as Choosing What You Care About?
When anxiety strikes it can be difficult to remember what to do to bring it to a halt. Anxiety is an all-encompassing feeling that can range from difficulty to breathe, insomnia, and fear of doing simple things like meeting friends, or going to work. Anxiety issues affect more of us than we may realize, with most Americans reporting they struggle with feeling anxious occasionally or feeling anxious all the time. The feeling of being unable to stop worrying, or worrying about things you can’t control can make us feel powerless, but we don’t have to feel that way, and we don’t have to worry constantly about everything.
If you’ve never experienced a panic attack, or the feeling of anxiety and feeling anxious all the time or even if you’re just not sure if what you are experiencing is anxiety here are a few descriptions from our community about what their anxiety feels like.
Feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, with my heart racing and feeling uneasy in a situation.
Anxiety is centered around my chest and affects my stomach. I become nauseated and it aggravates my IBS. My chest feels uneasy, like a tingling sensation or pressure that is similar to restless leg syndrome. I feel my heart race sometimes and it also makes me overthink everything. I overthink, I doubt myself, I think of many situations negatively and constantly judge my interactions and decisions. Sometimes it doesn’t slow me to focus bc I feel tightness around my neck and causes tension headaches. Waves of depression come with it as well but not all the time. I don’t think as rationally and the worse part is it affects my day to day and my relationship with people I love.
There’s pain in my chest, my heart feels too heavy to stay in my body, my throat burns, I can’t get enough air no matter what I do and I feel queasy as my heart races. I can’t get the thoughts of what’s wrong out of my head no matter what I do, like someone is sitting on my chest, choking me as they just repeat themselves over and over
Anxiety making me feel uncomfortable. Everyone is thinking of the mistake i do… And in the bed i think of that. Every day. Every night. I think everyone hates me even if u love me. It’s a little bit problematic. A little bit.
Anxiety comes in different shapes and sizes, it could be anything from a dry mouth, having chest pains to being physically sick. Whatever the situation just take a moment to re centre and engage with your thinking mind.
For some anxiety or panic attacks feel like your heart is being squeezed and you can’t catch your breath. For others it’s the feeling of not being able to quiet their mind, racing thoughts, overthinking, worrying about things they can’t control or even things they experienced years ago. Anxiety and anxious feelings can lead to insomnia and poor sleep, upset stomach, headaches, feeling like you can’t catch your breath or even feeling like everyone else is thinking about how you don’t fit in, said the wrong thing, or aren’t good enough to be there.
Often those who are experiencing an anxious moment can objectively tell you that they are aware their thoughts are irrational or don’t make sense. They know that how they’re feeling isn’t a true reflection of the world around them but they are unable to quiet the thoughts.
Managing anxiety can come in a variety of sizes and options. For severe anxiety, there is a list of medications available that can treat your symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also a widely accepted practice to help quiet your mind and retrain your thought patterns. Talk therapy is also a good option if your anxiety is limiting your life in any way at all. Any and all options are available and should be used together or separately to suit the individual who needs to manage their anxiety symptoms.
But what if managing anxiety was as simple as managing what you invest your emotional energy into? Or, to put it simply, what you give a f#ck about.
Wait, don’t go just yet, I promise you that we’re onto something here. Managing anxiety starts with determining what we allow to make us feel anxious.
Make a List
Take a moment and honestly reflect on the things that are stressing you out right now. Grab a paper and pencil if you’d like and write them down.
Now on a separate piece of paper list only those things which you directly have control over.
Compare these two lists. I am willing to bet the first one is quite a bit longer than the second, right? That’s because as women we tend to stress over, and feel anxious over more than what is truly ours to manage.
For example, it’s not at all unusual to find that my fellow mom-friends are feeling anxious about things like:
- Her kids’ grades
- Her parent’s health issues
- A friend’s marriage issues
- That 5 lbs she hasn’t lost yet
- Whether or not that thing she said last month at Book Club came off as weird
- If the new mom at school likes her or thinks she’s weird
- That she hasn’t gotten to the gym in weeks
- What is she gonna make for dinner??
- Should she apply for that new promotion at work?
- Are her kids getting too much screen time?
Managing Your Stressors is Tough
Listen…I get it. Boy, do I get it! I’ve been there, and to be candid half of the time I’m still there but then I remind myself to stop. Challenge my thinking. Breathe. Ground myself. And most importantly make a list.
What do I need to truly give a f#ck about? What can I control without waiting on or needing anything from others?
Let’s go back to the list above. My kids’ grades, short of nagging them to do homework and checking with their teachers there is not much else I can do, right? Okay, then it’s off my list.
My parents’ health. Short of checking in with them and making sure they’re going to appointments and taking medication as prescribed is there anything else I can do? Is it in my wheelhouse to simply prevent them from aging? Nope. Off the list it goes.
My friends’ marriage issues. I can be a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen, but you know what I cannot do? I cannot be her sponge to soak up her stress because it doesn’t help her a bit, and it adds to my own anxiety. Wring that sponge out, and cross it off the list.
That awkward thing you said…okay listen, sometimes we all say something we wish we could reel back in and erase. But it doesn’t work that way. And the truth is you only remember the weird stuff you say, not the weird stuff other people say. You can’t change it, so scratch it off the list and stop worrying about it!
As for the rest, do the same thing. If there’s something on your anxious list that you can change, change it. If there’s something on your list you cannot change then why waste energy being anxious about it? Being anxious or worried about something has never changed the outcome of it anyway. But if you have no power over the situation then you truly cannot change it, so all you can do is stop investing your emotional energy–stop giving it your f#cks–and move on to the things you can change.
Anxiety is a lot like a funhouse mirror if you think about it. It takes what you show it to be true and twists and distorts it all around so it’s unrecognizable. This is to say that a lot of what has you feeling anxious may not be real at all, or at least isn’t the way your anxiety is making you think it is. By focusing on the things we can control and not letting our emotional energy get sucked down the drain worrying about things that may never happen, and that we cannot control anyway, we can reduce the amount of anxiety we feel every day. We’re managing our anxiety by managing what we worry about, what we stress out about, and what we, in turn, feel anxious about.
The audio session, Give Less F#cks, Live More Life in the Sanity & Self app addresses some of the many things women allow themselves to feel stressed out over every day. Listen to Give Less F#cks, Live More Life by Airial Clark and see what you can scratch off your list of stressors today.
“Are you tired of feeling like you are responsible for everything? Are you ready to give les F#cks so you can live more lie? this 7-step program is designed to help you spend your time & energy on what REALLY matter to you.”
What are your go-to anxiety hacks? Share your tips and experience in the comments.
About the Author
Angela Keck is the content & community manager for Sanity & Self. You can always find her hanging out on the Real Convo tab of the app, on our social media pages, as well as right here on the blog. In addition to being passionate about self-care, Angela is also a wife, a mother of two, and a writer (in her spare time).