Managing Anxiety Before It Manages You

Anyone that has experienced anxiety can tell you how absolutely debilitating it can be. Your brain and your body feel under attack, and once that train gets moving, it is hard to stop. If you’re like me, and understand that anxiety is part of life, the goal isn’t to remove all the triggers for your anxiety (an impossible task), but instead the goal is to manage your anxiety before it manages you.

Issues with Control

In my life, the root cause of most of my anxiety is a feeling of lack of control. I can catastrophize a situation without so much as a second thought. This was exacerbated by the birth of my daughter. Where before I would be anxious over any given circumstance I could encounter, I’m now anxious about my daughter’s safety in any and every situation.  While I understand there are times when I should be worried, I know that for the most part my anxiety is completely unfounded.

Stopping Anxiety Before It Stops Me

Because I am aware of my tendencies towards anxiety, and because I’m not a fan of having my days derailed by sheer panic, there are a few things I do each day to help manage my anxiety.

  • I repeat positive affirmations. This effort ends up having the most impact, while also being the most covert. The easiest way I insert this practice into my daily life is through passwords. Taking the positive affirmation, I use the first letter from each word, which forces me to repeat the phrase each time I type it. For example, last year during a particularly harried time, my go-to phrase was “stop living like you’re on fire.” This translated to “SLLYON,” which I had to repeat every time I logged onto my computer.
  • I practice mindfulness. Anxiety often implies you’re worried about something that hasn’t happened yet, which means you’re robbing today of its joy. Being mindful brings you back to the moment you’re in, and helps you pay attention to how your body is feeling. Being in tune with your body helps you identify when you can feel anxiety creeping up. Catching it early means you have a better chance of stopping it.
  • I examine my perception. More often than not, it isn’t so much the situation that causes me anxiety, as it is my perception of the situation. Stepping outside of it for a moment, allows me to get a clearer picture of what is going on, and how I am reacting. The easiest way for me to get outside of a situation, is to write it all down. Once I start doing that, I find that the emotion starts to fall away, and it takes my anxiety with it.

Anxiety is often one of those afflictions that robs you of your ability to enjoy the simple things. With focused intent, you can reign in the runaway train of anxiety, and regain your capacity to live life and enjoy it.

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