I suffered from anxiety for years. I’ve dealt with social anxiety, panic attacks, specific fears, generalized anxiety, and even OCD – basically, I’m very experienced in the world of anxiety (strange thing to brag about, right?).
And the worst part about dealing with all of these different forms of anxiety was feeling like I was stuck that way forever – feeling like I would just always be “an anxious person”.
It wasn’t until I began immersing myself into the world of mental health, researching all things anxiety, and undergoing LOADS of personal growth that I finally discovered the secret to beating my anxiety – the key that would allow me to live my life free of fear and to the FULLEST extent possible!
Okay, enough with all this build up – it’s time to fill you in on what this big secret is!
Are you ready? Here it is: I realized that I had the power to overcome my anxiety.
YOU have the power to overcome YOUR anxiety.
So why is this so important? Because it shows us the importance of our mindset.
The main reason I spent so many years not trying to overcome my anxiety was because I thought I was stuck that way – that I was at the mercy of my brain chemistry and that there was nothing I could do about it. I thought I was just one of the unlucky ones. In other words, I had a victim mindset. I was letting myself be defeated by my anxiety. In fact, during those years you could probably hear me saying one of the most destructive sentences ever on a regular basis: “this is just how I am”. I was giving myself absolutely NO POWER over my mental health! And therefore, NO CHANCE of overcoming my anxiety! If you totally relate to this, then let me fill you in on another little secret:
You are not stuck with anxiety
Your brain can change.
This is all thanks to a little thing called neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity means that your brain has the ability to literally change its physical structure, which can then affect many (MANY) other areas in your life – often for the better!
When you do things that “work” your brain (such as meditating, doing aerobic activity, trying new things, and even thinking in a different way), you’ll actually modify the neural pathways in your brain. This means that you can change the way your brain thinks and operates.
It also means that you can change the activity in specific brain regions – such as those responsible for anxiety, fear, anger, and much more! For example, it’s been found that people who express gratitude regularly (that is, people who switch from focusing on the negative to focusing on the positive) have more activity in their brain’s “medial prefrontal cortex”, the region responsible for learning and decision making.
You need to get it into your head that you CAN overcome your anxiety – because you CAN! It is totally within your (and your brain’s!) power.
Now by saying these things, I don’t want to contribute to a common stigma that “you just have to think positively” and that “you just need to be mentally stronger and stop worrying”. THAT IS NOT WHAT I AM SAYING!
It is very difficult living with a mental illness (and even more difficult if you have tough circumstances to deal with), which is why professional help is always a good option and understanding that mental health issues are a big deal. And for many people, with tough circumstances (especially tough financial situations), it is not always so easy to get the necessary help.
BUT there is ALWAYS hope!
You just have to believe that things will get better (and then start doing things that will help you).
It might take time. It might take lots of therapy. Or it will take lots of self help. Or it might just take adjusting your diet and exercising more. Or it might take medication. Or it will take a combination of all of those things.
Everyone is different, but there is hope for everyone.
The importance of developing the right mindset
No one has ever accomplished anything great or overcome anything difficult without a strong mindset that they can do it.
When you have a strong mindset, it doesn’t matter if you’re still feeling anxious or you still have low energy – you WILL be able to overcome your obstacles.
Why? because once you change your mindset, you’ll already have done half the battle – that is, you’ll have STARTED the process of healing. And starting is the hardest part of the entire process (as anyone who’s ever written an essay will be very familiar with!).
Once you change your mindset, you’ll notice that everything else begins falling into place. Once you have the motivation to change, the changes will follow naturally! Maybe you start going to therapy, or perhaps you enrol yourself into an online self-help course. Honestly, you’ll be amazed at all the changes you begin making in your life when you switch from a victim mentality to an “I CAN” mentality.
Some of the most important changes you can make include:
- Taking care of your physical health
- Reducing stress in your life and doing more of what makes you happy
- Re-training your brain to think differently about fear, which you can start by doing these journal exercises.
- Facing your fears (slowly and in a controlled way)
- And practising!
Practicing? Say what?
That’s right! Practice is one of the most CRUCIAL components in overcoming your anxiety.
Overcoming and managing anxiety is a skill like any other.
After you identify what you need to work on, you need to then practice it every day (until it becomes totally natural). If you do this, you CAN and you WILL accomplish anything! So the only question is: where do you begin?! Here are the 5 first steps you need to take:
- Understand the root causes of your anxieties and fears
- Identify your specific thought patterns that fuel your anxieties and fears
- Determine what anxiety-perpetuating behaviours you have that are making your anxieties and fears even worse
- Challenge your negative thoughts and behaviours
- Retrain your mind to develop new, healthier thoughts and behaviours
The steps are there, but it can be hard to get started.
That’s why I’ve designed a super inexpensive e-course that will help you get started with ALL of those steps and more!
I take a fully holistic approach (incorporating not only your mental health, but also your emotional, physical, and spiritual health) so that you can live a balanced, stress-free life! If you want to take a deeper look into the course, check it out here!
Final thoughts and reminders
You completely have the power to overcome your anxiety. It’s all about your mindset.
If you take the right steps, it CAN and WILL happen.
I KNOW you can do it!
If you want an extra little free resource, you can download my free Anxiety Handbook below. It goes through a lot of information that will help you understand your anxiety AND it has journal exercises that will help you work on re-training your anxious thoughts patterns!
Stay tuned for part 5 of my series that will be posted tomorrow!
Sagesse ("Say Jess")
Owner of Mindaya