I have a lot of reasons to be happy. But, on days where my anxiety completely takes over, it's really difficult for me to remember any of those reasons. My mind becomes clouded. I feel lost in my own head, unable to see the silver lining in any situation, even if I know deep down there is one.
I call this center-focusing.
Center-focusing is a term I created that I've been using for a while, and it means just that – when our minds are so focused on the negative of a situation that we center all of our energy towards it, forgetting the world around us and any positive aspects of our lives. We start creating a web of anxiety in which we become tangled in.
Center-focusing hinders us from remembering all the good in our lives, it clouds our thoughts and forces us to succumb to our anxieties, real or irrational. Whenever I feel like this is happening, I try my absolute best to remind myself of these very important things to fight my way out of the web of anxiety:
1. THIS IS ONLY TEMPORARY, LIFE WILL GO ON
Or in other words, this too shall pass. I cannot even tell you how many times my friends and family have had to remind me of this one. When we are center-focusing on something, or are just lost in our anxieties, we tend to forget that life WILL go on.
No matter what we are going through, even if we’ve hit rock bottom and think we can never reach the surface again, we have to remember that this will pass, it is only temporary, and it will not last forever.
I’m the biggest offender of sometimes forgetting about life on the other side of my anxiety. But when we allow our rational selves to take over and push the anxiety aside, we begin to realize that life is constantly moving forward, and time truly does heal everything.
Whether your mind is suffering because of a broken heart, or you're experiencing sadness or change, you're overwhelmed, or having a bad day, always remind yourself - this is only temporary. You know that feeling won't stick around and you know you will pull yourself out of this like you always do. Tomorrow will come, the sun will rise, new days are always ahead.
2. YOU ARE NOT ALONE, EVEN IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE
I'm so grateful for the people I have in my life that I know I can lean on.
Sadly, at my most anxious times, I feel like it's just me against the world.
I disregard all of those who care about me whenever my anxiety becomes too much to bear. I feel more alone than ever, even if I’m sitting right next to a friend or loved one. I just feel like no one will understand what's going on in my head. But I’m wrong. You’re not alone.
Even if you feel like friends or family don't understand what you're going through, it's okay. You can always turn to them if you need an ear to listen to you. Therapy also IS always an option, and a smart one at that if you're having persistent anxiety. The negative connotation of therapy needs to end because it really can be beneficial to helping us understand why we feel the way we do, and give us tools to work on it.
But, if you're really against therapy for whatever reason, here are some other ways to prevent feelings of loneliness:
Get a new pet, or connect with one you already have. Studies show even just petting a dog or cat each day can greatly relieve stress
Visit a local animal shelter or try dog/cat sitting.
Start volunteering somewhere. You'll not only feel good about contributing, but you may make some friends along the way.
Take a yoga, pilates or dance class, or join a local gym.
There are so many alternatives to feeling like you're alone in this world, and they also work as great distractions from anxiety. We never truly are alone, there will always be someone or something out there we can turn to at our darkest of times.
3. IT COULD ALWAYS BE WORSE
I know this one sounds a bit dramatic, but in all honesty, for the most part, it really could always be worst. When we become overwhelmed, and life decides to throw all kinds of things our way, we tend to make the tiniest of problems bigger than they need to be. Often times we can’t even control it, nor do we realize we are doing it, but we are.
During this time we forget what really matters. We forget to see the silver lining, we forget that someone out there is probably having a worse day than we are. We forget to be grateful for our health, our friends and family, for being alive, and the things we take for granted – like having a job or a place to call home. We forget about those who have deteriorating health, who may have recently lost a loved one, or are struggling to make a living.
I recently started a new job and switched my entire career path. I felt like the world around me was falling apart, simply because it was a major change, it was all so new, and I was scared. My normal routine was disrupted and I was having a difficult time adjusting thanks to my anxiety. But when I stopped, took a few breaths, and tried to put things in perspective, I remembered something important. Someone out there is truly struggling to find a job, and here I am stressing over it because of my fear of change.
We need to make a conscious effort to be more grateful for the things we do have. We need to remind ourselves how much worse life could be, and recognize all of the good going on in our own lives. I know it can be tough, especially on anxiety-filled days, but we have to try.
4. YOU CAN ALWAYS MAKE A CHANGE
Some of us fear change so much that we often times forget it's even an option. As I said before, I just switched career paths and quit a job where I was underpaid and unappreciated. I used to come home, miserable, knowing I had to wake up tomorrow and do it all over again.
I slowly started to realize there is definitely better options out there, and I can leave this place, whenever I want. It's just a job, it doesn't define my entire life. So I did just that. I left. I started a new life for myself. It was scary as hell, sure, but I already am seeing just how worth it it truly was.
Another major life change I made was when I was dating someone for just shy of five years, and I loved him with my entire heart. Unfortunately, it got to a point where our relationship was completely toxic. We weren't good for each other, but neither of us wanted to admit it because we had too much love in our hearts. Sometimes love isn't enough, though.
After so much heartache, ups and downs, good times and bad, I finally got out of the relationship. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life. My whole world was turned upside down, it changed me, and I'm still a different person today because of it.
In the end, difficult changes such as these only make you stronger. I learned a lot about myself, and so many doors filled with exciting opportunities opened for me. I finally started traveling, exploring the world, focusing on myself, and enjoying life to the fullest. I would never be as happy as I am today if I hadn't made those changes.
5. YOU CAN DO THIS
"Do you remember the things you were worrying about a year ago? How did they work out? Didn't you waste a lot of fruitless energy on account of most of them? Didn't most of them turn out all right after all?"
- Dale Carnegie
Life is a long-winding road, do not waste it being anxious or being in a situation that doesn’t make you happy. You've gotten through the bad before, and at any given moment, you can certainly do it again. It'll only make you stronger in the end. So, make that change. Take those steps. Create new experiences. Learn something about yourself every single day. Completely live in the moment, don't take it for granted or let it pass you by.
Most importantly, enjoy the life you are given, it goes by way too fast.