QUESTION: Do you have any tips on how to deal with anxiety? I’ve always been a bit jumpy, but in recent years it has morphed into an issue. I worry all the time! I worry when I am at work, I worry at school, I worry when I have to talk to someone, or if I am in a crowd. I’m always anxious because I know I am going to mess up in some way.
I feel like a real loser sometimes, like I just can’t get a grip on it. I am a guy and I’m supposed to be strong. Anxiety makes me feel like a big wimp. I really need help! I am a full-time student and can’t afford therapy, and I have no insurance so medication is out of the question.
Can you share some advice for beating anxiety on my own?
~Shaky in St. Louis
COACH KRISTA-LYNN’S ADVICE:
Though it is often said in jest, quite literally, your problems are all in your mind, Shaky! Your anxiety is created by the thoughts you choose to focus on, which are hurtful and cause you stress. Two thoughts cannot exist simultaneously, which means that when you are focused on thoughts like, “I’m a loser who’s going to mess up” you have blocked out the thoughts that create peace of mind.
Worrying is a choice. While we may not choose the thoughts that run through our minds, we do choose what we focus on. You really can choose not to worry, you may have to make that choice one thousand times, but, with practice, you will learn a better way and find peace.
By monitoring your thoughts, and choosing to focus your attention on solutions, rather than problems, the effects of anxiety will cease to have a hold on you. Meditation with the use of positive affirmations will assist you in focusing your attention in the right direction.
The first step in calming your mind is simply to breathe. As soon as you catch yourself worrying, stop, and take several deep breaths; pull the air deep into your belly, and up into your lungs, then slowly release. Keep breathing fully and slowly, until you feel centered and calm.
Once you have centered yourself, begin to notice the thoughts going through your mind. Note how you feel when you focus upon a thought. Though we have many, there are really just two kinds of thoughts; those that feel good and those that feel bad when we focus on them.
The sensations running through your body will tell you if a thought is good or bad for you. Negative thoughts, like worry, will often make your belly tighten and constrict, they create fear and feel bad. Positive thoughts will uplift you, bringing a sense of vitality and peace. You can always change your thoughts by shifting your focus to something that feels better.
Reciting affirmations, either silently or aloud, will help you to remain focused on the positive. Create and recite affirmations that empower you, making you feel strong and brave. You’ve spent enough time putting yourself down, now it is time to lift yourself up. It is imperative that you start focusing on what is right about you.
Right now you are just stuck in a pattern; you’ve grown accustomed to suffering. Set a new intention! Decide right now that you deserve joy, peace, happiness and contentment.
It will require some work on your part, but I promise you, you can overcome this problem. It was brave of you to reach out for support, and I encourage you to remain open to assistance. You don’t have to go this alone!
Sometimes psychotherapy is the best route, and you may be wrong about not being able to afford it. Most cities have centers (State funded or non-profit) that offer low to no-cost counseling; often the cost of a session is offered on a “sliding scale” based on what you earn. Schools also offer discounted or free counseling to their students, and the same can be said about medications.
I suggest doing some research to find out about mental health programs in your area. You’ll find the information a wealth of information in your local newspapers and phone book, and on the internet. There is hope! Sometimes you just need to dig a bit to get to the solution.
If your symptoms do persist, or increase, I strongly encourage you to seek professional counseling immediately. The following links will help you to find a licensed therapist in your area:
Since you specifically mentioned becoming anxious when you have to speak with someone, or at work, I would say that low self-esteem is causing the brunt of your problems. It sounds to me that you worry most about what people will think of you, or that you may fail, or say something silly. It’s time to rewrite the story! Choose to have some faith in your abilities and your anxieties will begin to wane.
With continuous effort you can change your thoughts and anxiety will be a thing of the past. I say this with absolute confidence, since I was plagued for years with a totally debilitating anxiety/panic disorder. By changing the way I think my life has changed for the better! You, too, can take charge of your mind and claim the inner peace that is your right.
A pioneer in the field of Transformational Coaching, Self-Care Tips editor-in-chief, Krista-Lynn Landolfi, founded SoulSchool.us [est. 1990] as a teenager. Throughout her decades of service she’s helped thousands to breakthrough limitations and actualize their awesome. Krista-Lynn has a gift for seeing the infinite potential within another, and calling forth their Super Self, which is the best an individual can be. The key to actualizing our greatness, in this master coach’s opinion, is simple: self-care. To learn more about Krista-Lynn’s work, which includes one-on-one coaching, spiritual guidance, group programs and retreats, visit Krista-Lynn.com
I was extremely impressed by your answers, Krista-Lynn—-I noticed the depth and breadth of your intelligence with your first appearance. I thought your answer to the guy who experienced constant anxiety was BRILLIANT!
E. Jean Carroll
Advice Columnist, ELLE MAGAZINE