We’re relatively more safe than any other generation that’s ever existed, so why is anxiety killing us??
Anxiety stems from feelings of worry and unease about uncertain outcomes. It’s our preoccupation with hypothetical situations. We respond to these feelings by trying to control everything we can in an attempt to ensure a desirable outcome.
Every day we’re bombarded by billions of marketing dollars aimed to convince us that the more money we make, vacations we go on, and more attractive we make ourselves – the closer we’ll be to a life that finally meets our expectations.
We’re programmed to keep the focus on ourselves, yet we’re confused about why our anxiety is skyrocketing through the roof. But here’s the truth: The more I try to make my life all about me, the more anxious I become.
Want to work on getting rid of your anxiety? Cease to be the focus of your attention. Want to get your mind off your heartbreak? Call or visit your friend who’s parent is sick and spend time with them. Want to stop worrying about your financial issues? Buy the homeless man living outside your apartment dinner. Want to stop obsessing over your appearance? Spend time with younger girls who think the love they deserve is based on their appearance. Want to stop jumping from career to career? Pour your heart into people and they’ll show you what your strengths are and where your passion lies. Want to impress people? Stop thinking about the impression you’re making. Want to be a leader? Serve others.
You’ll solve a good amount of your problems by shifting your focus from ‘how can I help myself’ to ‘how can I help someone else’. This is much easier said than done and believe me, I’m no Mother Theresa and still struggle with this all the time, but honestly…I think she had it figured it out.
People are complicated and difficult. And looking at it from a logical perspective, sometimes it seems smarter to avoid them than to get involved. But that’s the lie we tell ourselves and keep believing. The point isn’t to solve their problems for them. It’s to be there for them and love them while they’re going through the storm. Fulfillment comes from shifting our focus from ourselves – to others, and until we really believe that, we’ll keep doing it our way expecting different results.
This is something I’ve learned from the most content people in my life. The people I know I can always call when I’m sad, anxious, and confused. They make their lives about loving other people. They’re available, honest, and genuine. Instead of being burnt out, anxious, and stressed, they’re somehow overflowing with love. These people don’t have less problems than anyone else. They just choose to view them differently. I want to be more like those people.
I know everyone’s experience with anxiety is so completely different, but I think it helps to hear stories about how others have worked to overcome it in their own lives. Also, just knowing other people deal with it makes you feel less alone. My anxiety started about 7 years ago and caused me to go through every sleeping pill ever invented to attempt to get my mind to shut off at night. If any of you struggle with insomnia, you know that the more you try to control it, the worse it gets. I’m not talking about a few nights a week laying awake until 2 AM. I’m talking serious sleep issues that turned my life upside down for years because of the way it affected my every day life. I couldn’t go to class, I was a zombie at practice, I gained weight, and started experiencing other health issues due to lack of sleep. The more I thought about it, the worse it got. Thoughts can be paralyzing, especially since it’s estimated that the human brain has about 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day. That’s a lot of things to sift through before dozing off. I used to think if I could just find the right sleeping aid or lavender oil my anxiety would stop and my thoughts would just shut off. But the solution wasn’t in any kind of pill or sleep meditation method. A break through came when I shifted my focus off of my problem and decided to actually trust God, which lead me out of my mind and into the lives of others.
Things that have helped me:
- Dedicate 15 minutes of quiet time in the morning to prayer & communication with God. Treat it like a mandatory meeting. This changed my life.
- Stick to a workout schedule to keep your serotonin levels up. Even if you start with walking on the treadmill and stretching. Start somewhere.
- Read uplifting books and put good thoughts in your head. (I’m reading ‘What On Earth Am I Here For’ by Rick Warren)
- Stop drinking caffeine if you feel jittery in the morning. Decaf won’t kill you.
- Make people a priority in your schedule.
- Stop saying how busy you are. We make time for the things that are most important to us.
- Positive self talk will change your life. Remind yourself that it’s normal to worry about the future. YOU’RE NORMAL for having anxiety. If you think about this as something that can be improved, you’ll realize it’s not just something you have to live with.
None of these things hold the magic key to an anxiety free life, but they’ve all played a part in making a difference in my life. I’m hoping that by reading this and taking from it what you want, it will help you in some way too. If you want to add to this conversation or leave a comment, say hi in this Instagram post tonight.