Four Things You Can Do Right Now to Unlock Anxiety
I recently had a friend who locked themselves out of their house. For hours they tried to find a spare set of keys, look for open windows and see if there was any way that they could break into their own house. After many failed attempts, they resorted to calling a locksmith.
It was a weekend, so a locksmith cost double the amount it would have on a Monday-Friday. But the guy needed to get into his house, so he paid the price.
When the locksmith got to the house, it took a total of 60 seconds for him to do his magic and unlock the door. My friend was left both thankful and furious; glad that he could get into his house, but annoyed that it took this guy 60 seconds to do what he couldn’t do in hours.
No amount of trying was going to get my friend into his house because he didn’t have the correct tools.
Just goes to show you that when you have the right tools, getting inside a house is easy.
So this got me thinking – what if managing anxiety just meant finding the right key?
Living with any mental disorder is tough. For many, it becomes paralyzing. It is like you are given a set of 100 keys to unlock the door and none of them are working.
Here’s the thing, though. Most of us don’t go through 100 keys. We get tired after trying four or five and declare ourselves unable to overcome the prison of our minds.
You are not alone if you do this. It is tiring continually trying to understand the reasons why you are not able to think or act in ways that other people are capable of. Much easier to crawl under the covers and call it a day.
After all, this is just who you are.
I know that it is hard, living with anxiety. But you are worth the effort it takes to understand it. You deserve to live a life where you control your thoughts, not a life where your thoughts control you.
Maybe you have been trying the wrong key all this time. Keep reading to discover four things you start right now to unlock the door.
Make it a Habit
How many times have you said to yourself that nothing is working? You’ve tried all the things. The meditation, the mindfulness, the breathing exercises, the grounding exercises. They don’t work, you tell yourself.
Before you declare yourself a failure, ask yourself how often you are practicing these techniques. You may not have enough data to make such a statement.
First, it is a fallacy that it takes 30 days to form a habit. Research tells us that it takes 66 days. This means that if you have declared something a failure on its 31st day, it may be because you have not been doing it for long enough.
For example, I started meditating in the mornings. I am three weeks into this new practice.
- Week 1: I could not even calm my mind for 30 seconds. The mediation was ineffective.
- Week 2: I found that I was able to get through almost an entire 5 minutes without my mind wandering.
- Week 3: I not only can get through almost 5 minutes but find that I am starting to remind myself to be present in moments of stress.
If I were to stop now, 21 days in, I would not have the full benefits, nor would it become a part of my routine. I am hoping that in the next 44 days, I will feel as much need to meditate as I do to exercise (which is a healthy habit of mine for the past 30 years). Plus, I might be able to get to a full 5-minutes of focused mindfulness.
Do Something Different
You’ve tried all the things. At least you think that you have. You have tried breathing exercises, grounding exercises, meditation, mindfulness. You feel like a failure because nothing seems to be helping
Maybe you are not seeking the right things. Not everything works for everybody. And not everything works in the same time frame for everybody.
First, go back to my first point about habits and make sure that you are incorporating techniques that are being used consistently.
Secondly, try something you haven’t tried before. Back to my example of meditation, I was resistant. But I also found that I could not calm my mind, so I needed to do something that centered me. Enter meditation. I like hemi-sync. These guided meditations can be downloaded in MP3 format or bought on CD. I also like the app, breethe that you can find on your iPhone app store.
The point is if one thing isn’t working try something else. Something will work, but it takes work to find what that something is.
The first thing to do is to figure out what is the most obnoxious part of your stress and anxiety. This will help you to seek tools that will be most helpful for you. For me, it is my mind racing at a mile a minute.
I tried coloring but found that all it did was make me press the crayon so deeply into the paper that I bore a hole in it. So I switched to meditation. It is not a miracle cure, but it has the potential to be a go-to thing for me to re-set my brain in moments of anxiousness.
I created a 30-day anxiety slayer challenge that can help you to understand your thoughts and behaviors. This will, in turn, help you to find the right key to use to manage your anxiety. And it is entirely free. Just sign up at the very bottom of this post, and I will email it to you.
Avoid Doing All the Things
There are SO many tools to help manage anxiety. This is a good thing, but it can be overwhelming. Having too many choices often provokes the very worry that you are trying to overcome.
Another common theme amongst people trying to conquer their anxiety is seeking one thing once then another thing the next time and so on. This can be ineffective.
My solution: Try one or two things at a time. This allows you to master these coping skills and avoid the feeling of overwhelm by having too many keys on the keychain.
Therapists are like locksmiths. While they can’t magically open the door in a matter of seconds, what they can do is lead you on a personal scavenger hunt, offering clues that will get you into the places you need to be.
Talking things through with a mental health professional will help you to understand yourself in a way that you have not yet been able to do on your own. I’m not just saying this because I am a mental health professional. I am saying this from someone who has used mental health professionals. A good one can help you to not only open the door but to make it, so it is not so scary to walk through.
If you are not yet at the point where seeing a therapist is a reality, the next best thing would be to use panic away.
You can use the panic away program in a way that suits your lifestyle. I like the audio the best because I can listen in my car. Plus, it is cost effective, which I always think is a bonus.
Anxiety is a life long illness. You are never getting rid of it. The sooner you realize that the closer you are to managing it.
Stop locking yourself out of your house and get the tools that will help you to live the life you deserve.