We live in a society where we are perpetually bombarded with pressures, stress, and difficult situations that may be troublesome to deal with properly. Throw in some anxious feelings and suddenly those situations appear to be even more daunting. For those people who experience anxiety regularly, be aware that there may be things that make anxiety worse. Your attempts to cope with it may seem to be effective at the time but are they really improving the situation?
Unfortunately, because of society’s perspective on discomfort and pain, we have created a society where we have learned to deal with everyday stressors by essentially denying them or attempting to get rid of them as quickly and painlessly as possible. Consequently, we become more anxious and those little things that have made us nervous or stressed are now causing us a multitude of health issues.
It is obviously important to handle anxiety in positive ways. Is what you are doing actually helping or are you doing things that make anxiety worse? Let’s examine such things so that you can figure out if what you are doing is contributing to further feelings of anxiety.
We know that ignoring any problematic situation creates more issues and obviously the same goes with avoiding our feelings of anxiety. When we stick our heads in the sand about feeling anxious or nervous, it does not necessarily go away. In actuality, they may become even heightened or worsen over time.
Are there times when our method of coping with our anxious feelings is to avoid them the most appropriate? Yes. However, it cannot be our go-to plan. It is important to acknowledge those feelings and learn to handle them positively. Maybe this means taking a few deep breaths or some positive self-talk in order to get us through tough times. If the feelings are there, recognize that and continue to move forward.
#2. Creating a Life Without Anxious Situations
No matter what anyone tells you, it is perfectly normal to feel nervous and even a bit anxious in a variety of situations. This can result in some internal dialogue that is difficult to handle and may even cause us to doubt our abilities. It is definitely one of the things that make anxiety worse.
“There is no way you can actually pull off this presentation.”
“You don’t have the skills necessary for that job so don’t even bother applying.”
“Don’t wear that bathing suit at the beach.”
“Don’t sign up for that seminar. You have nothing worthwhile to contribute anyway.”
All of these statements sound ridiculous, don’t they? However, I am sure we have all heard something similar in our own heads and as a result, avoided some amazing opportunities in life. This is a form of self-sabotaging and well, we need to stop it.
Many people get consumed by these thoughts and then begin avoiding any situations that may bring on such feelings. For many years, I did just this and I cannot describe how many amazing opportunities and relationships I have missed out on.
As I found ways to increase my self-esteem, I was able to deal with this negative self-talk and face life head-on. I began volunteering with newcomers in my community which opened my eyes to new cultures. I began to apply for more challenging employment and guess what? I began to shine and was able to manage situations that I could barely even attempt before. I also was more willing to try new and exciting things that would have passed me by.
Do I still have some of these feelings? Of course and that is normal. It is our brain’s way of protecting us from harmful or dangerous situations. Now I choose to analyze the situation rationally and if I am not in any legitimate danger, I face things as they come my way.
#3. Feeling Ashamed
If we have been ever told, “that’s stupid to feel that way”, we may begin to internalize those words. Then when we begin to feel anxious or nervous, other emotions of shame and embarrassment begin to rise up. It is a vicious cycle.
It is ok to be anxious about various situations. Acknowledge those feelings and reach out for some assistance to deal with them. Whether talking to a friend, or a professional or even to yourself helps, do that. Work through the moment and those thoughts and feelings but do not get stuck in them. This is the important part – you are bigger and better and can tackle anything.
#4. Treating it as Abnormal
The reality is everyone, your mom, your neighbour, your co-worker, even the CEO of a major company – experiences feelings of anxiety and nervousness at one time or another. It is NORMAL.
Are you finding that there are certain times of your life where you have felt more anxious than others? Now, I want you to look back as objectively as you can and examine what was happening in your life at that time. More than likely many difficult or stressful situations were occurring at approximately the same time. Of course, you would be feeling anxious! Anyone would.
We have created this society that tells us if we are not filled with thoughts of “fuzzy puppies and rainbows” all of the time, that something must be wrong with us. Goodness, life is not always like that at all. We are faced with new and unknown situations, moments of crisis, and circumstances that are beyond our control all of the time. If we found ourselves facing everything with complete positivity and wide smiles all of the time, then THAT would be something we should be concerned about.
We are human and yep, the unknown is scary. It will conjure up some of those ugly feelings but remember, this is normal and it is ok to not be happy or positive sometimes. So stop treating it like it is abnormal as it is one of the things that make anxiety worse.
#5. Getting Anxious About Getting Anxious
As we experience more things in life, we begin to realize that certain ones may make us feel more nervous than others. For instance, I am a nervous traveler.
- Did I pack everything ok?
- Will the titanium in my leg set off the alarms at the airport security check? (BTW, it never has and yet, I still worry about it.)
- Will I miss my flight?
- Will I say the wrong thing at security?
- What if I get lost?
I have these running thoughts weeks in advance of every trip and yet, none of it has ever come true. I am getting anxious about getting anxious. (If you are a nervous traveler, check out this article that has helped me deal with my anxiety while travelling
The problem with this is that I am often unable to enjoy the present moment. I am missing things because I have gotten too much in my own head. I have begun to realize that I cannot control everything and I need to let it go. Things will happen that I may not anticipate but I am strong and can handle it. And so can you.
Life is a beautiful thing and should be cherished and enjoyed. Expect to have a bit of anxiety about the unknown but be cognizant of the things that make anxiety worse.
Think rationally and as objectively as possible so that you can manage your emotions. If you are unable to do this on your own, reach out to your support systems and don’t forget to also engage in self-care.