Anxiety has been recorded to be one of the most common reasons why people seek therapeutic help. Anxiety can be both genetic, and also environmental (so you can be born with it, or it can develop according to the environment around you). You can be anxious in a more generic way, but you could also be anxious about specific things.
But since anxiety can be quite common, what wrong information do we know about it?
- Doing nothing means that the anxiety will just increase, and increase, and increase…
During the symptoms of anxiety, or panic, such as breathing hard, feeling dizzy, and so on, it can feel like if you don’t do something to ease the anxiety then, you’ll just keep feeling worse and worse. This is not necessarily the case, anxiety symptoms are not linear, they are more of an upside-down U… so the symptoms will keep increasing for a bit, and then slowly start declining.
- You should delay things to avoid anxiety
If you’re anxious about an activity – such as public speaking, zip lining, and so on, you might feel that by moving to the very back of the line would be the best approach to not have anxiety. This isn’t the case, as this brings about what is known as anticipatory anxiety – the anxiety of something which we assume is coming. This can be worse than other kinds of anxiety, because since nothing is happening yet (we’re just waiting for our turn), our minds can roam free and imagine all sorts of catastrophic events.
So the best policy is to try be one of the first. If you have to present in front of the audience, be first, that way you get the situation over with before your mind has time to roam free and imagine catastrophic scenarios.
- If you get anxious about a task, you should focus on your symptoms
By focusing on the symptoms, the task will not be done to the best of your abilities, because your focus is on your thoughts. The best approach is to focus on the task that is giving you anxiety, and once that is over, the anxiety will dissipate by itself and you will have proven to yourself that those negative thoughts had no place in your mind. Use your anxiety to remind yourself that you need to focus on the task more.
Mel McElhatton holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Malta. With Willingness, Mel does life coaching and is one of the facilitators in the IRL – In Real Life team. They are also the producer of the radio show Niddiskutu s-Sess. They can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.