All You Need are 5 Things to Manage Stress and Anxiety

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Managing stress and anxiety seems like an uphill battle sometimes. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes it is. There are days when I feel like I am an ant at the bottom of Mt. Everest. Anyone with me?

I don’t like to sugar coat things. I am a realist by nature. I have lived with stress and anxiety, with my most recent episode being only four days ago.

I spent 2 days in tears because I allowed myself to believe a story about myself that was simply not true. I allowed other people to define what I always believed were strengths, as weaknesses.

I sat in tears and self-doubt for a good 48 hours. Then I put my big girl pants on and challenged my story. In doing this, I discovered there really are only 5 things that we need to manage anxiety.

Self-Awareness

This one is important, but probably the most difficult. It took me a good 35 years to really know who I am. It would have taken me longer except that 3 of those years were spent in my master’s program for Counseling, where it was mandatory to write self-reflective papers and talk about yourself ALL.THE.TIME.

Without knowing who you are, you will never be able to battle what causes you angst. NEVER. Self-awareness affords you freedom.

  1. The freedom to know what stress management techniques will work, what won’t.
  2. The freedom to know what type of situations will trigger stress.
  3. The freedom to distance yourself from critics who try to mold you into who they need you to be.

Getting to a place of self-awareness is tough. It takes time and practice, but it is worth the empowerment it will bring.

If I wasn’t fully self-aware, it would have taken me much longer to realize that the story other people were creating for me was simply not true. I may have never gotten to that place if I didn’t know who I was.

Discipline

Let’s face it, you will never get what you want if you don’t practice. Managing stress and anxiety is no exception. What might work for you one time might not work a second time. Equally, just because something that doesn’t work straight out of the gate doesn’t mean it will never work.

You will fall

You will get up

You will fall again

You will get up again

This will go on until one day, you will notice that the gap between the time you fall and the time you get up is much greater. Eventually, you will find that you are standing on your feet. And you are okay.

It took a lot of self-talk to get out of my own head. I had to keep reminding myself that I am okay. If I would have quit, I would still be sitting in a puddle of tears.

Growth Mindset

Mindset is so important. It is the difference between thinking “yes, but” and “yes, and.”

A person with a “yes, but”mindset is always looking for reasons something won’t work. Yes, I got into a great college, but I won’t be able to go because it costs too much.

On the other hand, a “yes, and” mindset says, Yes I got into a great college, and I can get scholarships, financial aid and work to help pay for it.

See the difference?

Part of having a growth mindset is understanding your circle of control. That is, knowing what is inside and what is outside of your control.

To tackle anything, we have to think that it is possible. The same is true of anxiety. It is possible! You deserve the effort it takes to live an empowered life. To do that, you need to believe that you can.

For me, I realized that I have ideas and vision that are far more powerful than a crummy story I was telling myself.

A Toolbox

You can’t hang a picture without a hammer and a nail. Well okay, now you can buy those sticky things that you can put on the back and hang them. The point is that you need some sort of tool to hang a picture on a wall.

The same holds true for dealing with stress and anxiety. You cannot manage it without coping skills and resources.

There are many different ways to manage stress and anxiety and cope with stress. If you have been using the same methods and they are not working, it is time to try something else.

I have a friend who discovered that when she is having a panic attack, she needs to eat something crunchy. This provides a distraction and allows her to be do something with her body (chew). She would not have known this if she

  1. Was not self-aware
  2. Didn’t have a toolbox that is filled with things that she has tried successfully and unsuccessfully.

I had to try different things to lift myself out of my self-doubt spiral. The self-talk wasn’t working right away, so I reached for my fidget spinner (yes, I use one of those). I needed to do something with the energy I had before I could come to a place of logical thinking.

I also allowed myself to cry. This is an important part of healing for me. Without my self-awareness, I might not have known that.

Support System

You need a support system. People who can call when you are in a bad mental place. This support system does not have to be large. It can be as small as one person. But without someone who is on your team, and knows everything about you and what you need, it will be more challenging to manage stress and anxiety when it appears.

I am thankful that I have a really good support system. In this situation, I grabbed two people who I knew would keep me grounded but also give me the tough love I needed. It was because of them that I was able to get past my negative narrative in 2 days rather than 2 weeks.

The Take-Away

The good news is that you only ever need five things to successfully manage anxiety

  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Discipline
  3. Growth Mindset
  4. A Toolbox
  5. A Support System

The list is small, but the process takes time. To help build your toolbox, I have compiled a list of resources, which includes audio, visual and sensory tools. You can click here to be directed to my resource page. I really like panic away for a combination of audio and visual material.

For additional blogs on mental health topics, I really like the mental health talk and Rose Minded . Both are websites that provide real-life stories of people who have struggled with mental health issues.

I am also in the process of creating worksheets, workbooks, and classes that will help you to master each of these areas. But for now, you can click below to get your free 30-day anxiety slaying challenge, which will help guide you in challenging your thoughts so that you can begin to tackle anxiety.

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Monica Pitek-Fugedi

 

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