Anxiety is one of the most common afflictions of the modern era, with almost everyone on earth suffering from some variant of it at one point or another. It’s very important to consider that when anxiety affects our mental health to the point it’s stopping us from living our lives properly, it might be time to seek help from a doctor, who can potentially refer you to counsellor, psychiatrist or other mental health professional. If you feel like you’re coping however, and want to potentially utilise your underlying anxiety in a productive way, there are certainly ways that some people can do so, and we’re here to give some ideas as to how.
Why We Feel Anxiety
Anxiety is a natural part of being human, it’s a symptom of the ongoing survival instinct we all have as human beings, and is there to help us identify threats naturally and avoid danger.
When Anxiety becomes a real problem is when modern cultural influences such as social media, and an overabundance of political awareness that previous generations lived in ignorance of, get the better of us and stop us from performing daily activities as we should. The NHS has a perfect rundown of generalised anxiety disorder in adults, which is what the majority of us face eventually, it’s a great way to get to grips with what people you know might be going through, as much as it is affirmation that your own feelings are certainly valid.
For the majority of young people, it’s also worth factoring in the immense amount of pressure that millennials, and those born since, face as we are more than often exposed to new information about the issues that we face as a world at large. A solid way to circumvent this, though it usually won’t feel like it at first, is to detox from news and technology, restricting how much time you spend on social media and only keeping up to date with news when it’s absolutely essential (ala, major government updates or electoral votes).
Besides this we can also attribute feelings of anxiety to a lack of control, and a feeling that we have little agency over our fates (or in many cases the fear of too MUCH agency). Having a mean boss, a tough teacher, or any figure of authority who holds some sway over you, can being a hotbed for anxiety, so this can be good motivation to try and put yourself in a position where you don’t answer to said authorities as much(get a new job, finish said course so you can be rid of said authority).
These are just some changes people can make to reduce anxiety, though these won’t be for everyone, so for everyone else we’ve got some solutions as well, in a segment we’re calling…
How To Turn Anxiety Into Motivation
Ok, so if we want productivity to be a focus, then anxiety can actually be very useful in small amounts.
The most common example is a desire for self improvement. We’re very clear at Bamae that solid mental health, self love and acceptance will always be a number one priority, but it’s also very normal and healthy to have an itch for a little bit more out of life, and this itch can be defined as a form of anxiety. Let’s say you have a job in mind, a long term goal to be in a certain industry or profession in a few year’s time. If you’re too passive in your pursuit of said profession, then chances are it will take longer to get there, as you may not be taking the opportunities or necessary risks that the most successful people in your industry take on to achieve their goals (new job openings at companies, courses that can make you a more viable hire etc).
An ongoing feeling of anxiety about our futures is not only normal, it’s a great sign that we’re taking our futures seriously, and will likely put great though, care, and consideration into how and when we approach opportunity. This is just one example of how something we perceive as fear, is in fact a healthy response to imminent change, and help guides our hands so that we don’t make decisions too hastily.
This same natural response often shows up in situations of potential danger. If your instinct is telling you not to walk home from the party alone one night, it goes without saying that you should follow that instinct and leave in a group, or a pre-booked taxi or uber. These emotions are here to protect us and keep us safe, and having that relationship with them is a fantastic way to take some of the power away from them, while still maintaining their use as a tool for good decision making.
Once we’ve taken all this into account, and we know that anxiety can be our good friend, it’s much easier to utilise it as a motivational tool. If there’s something you love to do, but you have anxiety that keeps it from being a reality, this would be a good prompt to explore what the risks of what you want really are, and if you can consider all the risks and still want to go for it… then go for it! Anxiety informs our choices, but it doesn’t define them, you do. That’s your superpower, and it’s a great one to have.
Top 10 Tips For Managing Your Anxiety
Remember to take regular breaks. Finding an outlet for all of that pent up energy can be essential to controlling the release of adrenaline into your body, so remember to get up and walk every hour for at least 2 minutes if you’re spending a lot of time not moving.
Exercise whenever you can. Working out releases endorphins that curb negative thoughts and keep you feeling good. Healthy body, healthy mind!
Talk To family and/or friends who you trust, and tell them about the feelings that have been bothering you. Chances are they might feel similar!
Ask your doctor about ways to cope with your anxiety, and how you can potentially work through your issues using their channels. They may even give you a prescription or help you devise a plan to alleviate some of your symptoms.
Go outside as much as possible during the daytime especially. Negative mental health is often a factor of long hours, not enough activity and a lack of sunlight, which provides crucial vitamins to you as a human being.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and generally experiment with your diet in small but meaningful ways in order to see if anything you’re eating might be contributing to anxious feelings. Cutting out caffeine especially is a fantastic place to start if you’re taking it regardless of your energy requirements every day (if you can’t get through a day without coffee, decaf is a fine option.
Consider leaving your comfort zone more often so that you can trivialise the things that are currently seeming like daunting tasks. Something might seem intimidating to face, until you’ve taken on and succeeded in something else, boosting your confidence and allowing you to see previously hard tasks as no problem.
Reassess your regular routine to be sure that you’re not allowing yourself to be ruled by factors in your life that are a regular source of anxiety for you. If you have an overbearing boss, a toxic relationship, or a source of regular pain in your life, it might be time to make a tough, adult decision about whether they really need to be there and if any of them can potentially go.
Remember the good things you have to look forward to in life, every time things seem like an uphill battle for not much reward. This might seem more relevant to ‘sad’ than anxious feelings, but rest assured that knowing there’s a light at the end of any tunnel can be essential to quieting any voices in your head which might be telling you otherwise.
Try lots of new things to be absolutely sure that you’re not living too much in a rut. The necessity to be more choosy about how you spend your time is a solid motivator for change, Carpe Diem as it were! Who knows? Maybe this will be what triggers a whole new you…
So there you go! If you’re suffering in a way that is obstructing your day to day, then a health professional is certainly the way to go. But it you feel like you’re on the cusp of some big choices, and want to have that extra bit of motivation, then just remember that fear is a normal part of the human experience, and though there’s ways to keep it under control, there’s even more ways to utilise it in your life.