Today, I want to discuss the best ways to lower your anxiety.
What to do when anxiety takes over
“The past could always be annihilated. Regret, denial, or forgetfulness could do that. But the future was inevitable.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
I spent a large chunk of my life dominated by my anxiety. My anxiety ate away at heart, mind, and willpower. I couldn’t accomplish small tasks and I was worried about a multitude of issues. In the end, I found it impossible to focus, experience gratitude, and achieve my goals.
Where does anxiety come from and why are we so anxious?
But why was I, as well as so many people, imprisoned by anxiety? There many, many reasons people may be anxious: finances, political uncertainty, familial sickness, spousal abuse, skill stagnation, and much more provide fertile soil for anxiety to arise.
My anxiety has come from two places: firstly, my refusal to improve as an individual and secondly, my obsession with the external world. With the first, I felt shame and with the second I felt hopelessness. Both these feelings fed into my anxiety and ultimately, I felt powerless.
The seven ways to overcome and defeat anxiety
To defeat my anxiety I took stock of my life and focused inward. I focused on making crucial improvements and changes in my personal life while detoxing from the negatives of the external world. Soon, my skills improved, my quality of life skyrocketed, and I felt at peace with my place in the world.
Below are the seven techniques I used to get over my anxiety and become an individual. I hope these seven steps work for you.
1. Anxiety can be cured when you let go of the world
You cannot control the world. Everything is outside of your control, so respond by focusing on your internal life. Your emotions, your mindset, your work ethic, your virtues, these are things you directly influence and control. You do not control your family, your skin color, the regression of your country, and so on. It is within your best interests to ignore the external world.
I know it can be difficult to ignore the siren calls of pointless political debates or the attention of destructive family members. We all have bad habits. However, you have to detox. Pay minimal attention to politics, avoid weak individuals, and reject cynical “entertainment” designed to belittle your hope.
Provide help to the virtuous. Get involved in your community and give everything you have to your loved ones. Ignore the masses and defend yourself from them because the masses will always seek vice over virtue. They will always waste your time, your money, your energy. Therefore, shrug your shoulders and minimize their influence over your life, so you can focus on enjoying yours.
The more you zero in on what you can control, the less anxious you’ll feel about your place in the world.
2. Genuine anxiety relief arises from taking care of your money
“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth diminishing your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
Never waste your money. Your money is a tool used to invest in yourself and your future. When you squander your resources on pointless knick-knacks, self-destructive behavior, and distractions, you’ll feel anxious. You know your money is best used investing in healthy food, not in buying fast food. You know your money is best used for a better bed, not in another streaming subscription service. You know your money is best used at the thrift store, not in an overpriced clothing boutique.
You know these things and yet you chose poorly. Your poor choices cause you anxiety. Having credit card bills and loans and other meaningless items causes you anxiety. If you want the anxiety to go away, you have to spend your money wisely.
Set up a budget. Eat out less. Try to find a better job or earn more money at your current job. Find a side hustle. Pour your resources into one hobby.
Lastly, do not despise money. People who spend money poorly or earn it dishonestly have a negative viewpoint on finances. Reject being childish and see money for what it is: a tool which can help you achieve greatness.
3. How do you manage anxiety? Grow a backbone and take better care of your health
Anxious people worry constantly about their health. Bad health habits will eat away at your peace of mind. If you want to reduce your anxiety, then eat better, exercise, and get more sleep. Set meal plans to help with better eating. Exercise at home before signing up for a gym. Set a clear time to sleep and avoid looking at electronics to develop your sleep schedule.
The better you eat, the cleaner your body will be. You don’t have to go over the top: start small and try to cut back on soda. Fit a few more salads into your diet. Create a meal plan. The more power you exercise over your food choices, the more confident and less anxious you’ll feel.
Additionally, you need to be active. Exercise reduces stress and anxiety while keeping you active. There is a multitude of health problems which good exercise doesn’t eliminate. However, certain types of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health ailments can be prevented if you are fit and active. So get out there and move so you can lower your anxiety.
Lastly, you need to sleep. The more energy you have, the better you can tackle your life’s problems with a clear head. Furthermore, sleep provides practical health benefits which work to reduce your stress and anxiety. No matter which way you cut it, you need sleep to help defeat your anxiety.
4. Excel at your profession to gain control over your life
You spend a lot of time at your job. Your mental health is dictated by what you do for a living. Therefore, find a place you want to work doing the things you want to do. Whatever is required to earn your dream job, start learning the skills. Learning the skills will take time, of course, but you will achieve a better sense of purpose and pride.
If you’re working at a job you hate then kick ass. Kicking ass at your current job will improve your confidence in your ability. I used to work at a deli and I hated every second of it. However, I put my energy into dominating at my job. I persisted through my fatigue, my irritation with my coworkers, and my shame with the little money I was making. Additionally, I improved my fortitude and patience by learning how to deal respectfully with ungrateful customers, irrational managers, and abrasive coworkers.
By focusing on kicking ass at my stupid job, I grew as an individual. My anxiety decreased and I became more confident in other areas of my life.
You don’t have to break your back. However, push yourself while at work. Excel quietly if you need to: clean a spot over there, make a small correction over here, and avoid the fanfare. However, seek to be better at your job and you’ll feel confident in your ability to excel in unfavorable circumstances.
5. Spend time with the people you love
Contrary to established belief, individualism is not radical solitude. Individualism is about choosing your community. Your community of virtuous individuals is dedicated to your growth and development and you are dedicated to theirs. Through this mutual support, you’ll find it easier to improve your life and lower your anxiety.
However, building a community is difficult. Firstly, you must develop the habits and behaviors you want in your friends and loved ones. Do you want to befriend active people? Then you must become active. Do you want to grow a community which values trust? Then you must always tell the truth to yourself and others. You cannot expect virtue from others if you cannot cultivate it in yourself.
Once you’ve committed to better behaviors, find others who are doing the same. No one is perfect. Thus, find people who are genuinely trying. Inspire them and ask they do the same for you. Furthermore, some people will help you build one aspect of your character while others will assist with another aspect. For example, you may have a friend who’s a fitness freak and another who is more into philosophy. Both are invaluable if you wish to improve your physical wellbeing and sharpen your critical thinking.
Your anxiety will increase if you try to live life alone. Find others who can share in your journey and help you in self-improvement.
6. Minimalism will help defeat anxiety and stress
“The way of a superior man is three-fold: virtuous, he is free from anxieties; wise, he is free from perplexities; bold, he is free from fear.” –Confucius
Clutter, dirt, and distractions will increase your anxiety. The dirtier your environment, the more powerless you’ll feel. Think about it: if you can’t keep your room clean then how can you hope to change your world for the better?
Large, substantial battles are won in the small acts we do. The cleaner your home, the less distracting your environment is. The less distracting your environment is, the less it weighs on your mind as you go about your day. The less weight you carry during the day, the less anxiety to hold you down.
Additionally, if you keep your area clean you will see the clear, direct influence you can have on the world. If you can keep your room clean then maybe you can get in shape or schedule time to give blood. Remember to aim small and you’ll make success a habit.
Lastly, keeping your area clean will help you develop positive habits. If you can consistently keep your room clean, then you can consistently practice a skill you wish to master. As I said before, start small and you will make winning an unbreakable habit.
7. Decrease your anxiety by scheduling time to relax
Lastly, we are human beings. You need to rest and there is no shame in taking time to pursue silly or meaningless hobbies. Fun is what gives life meaning. Without enjoyment, we simply go from challenge to challenge with no reward or rest. This is a terrible way to live. Therefore, play video games, watch YouTube videos, catch up on the latest TV shows. However, you must approach such fun in moderation.
To start, rethink how you spend your time. For example, your time with family, especially virtuous family members, should not be a chore but a treasured moment. I realized this a few weeks ago while playing with my daughter. She won’t be this young forever. I have to treasure this time. I see little moments with her as my “play” time instead of a burden or obligation. This simple mind shift helped me lower my anxiety and I found it easier to relax and enjoy the time I spend with my family.
On the other end, you need to view challenging times as opportunities to excel. For example, I’ve been tasked with correcting a project from another developer. The task is tedious, annoying, and sometimes confusing. However, I reframed the situation. This isn’t an inconvenience but an opportunity to practice patience, gratitude, and generosity. By the end of this experience, I will be stronger. Therefore, I’m no longer anxious about the project, I’m proud and happy to have the opportunity.
Respect Your Play Time
Lastly, respect your play time. Find a hobby you love doing and do it. Don’t worry about whether or not the hobby is productive, impressive, or profitable. This is your time to cut loose and have fun.
However, you have to be responsible. Take stock of your life: are you being virtuous? Are you pursuing what is good and avoiding what is bad? Are you being patient with difficult people and generous to those who need your help? Are you spending time with family and pouring all you have into studying and improving your lot in life? Are you taking care of your health?
Shame and anxiety surround our hobbies because we use them as distractions. We come home from a day at work, ignore our families, then sit down and watch TV shows. If this is your typical course in life then you will feel anxious and shameful. Your mind is reminding you of your duty to better yourself as well as the world. Your anxiety is the result of that reminder.
Schedule The Best Times To Enjoy Life
However, if you schedule your play time and respect this scheduling, then you will lessen your anxiety. I set a clear, definitive time for when I can play games. I communicate this time with my wife, so she is aware. I never break this time and my honesty keeps me from feeling anxiety and shame surrounding my hobby.
Enjoy your time. Your play time should decrease anxiety, not be a source of anxiety. Schedule times, communicate this time with others, and focus on earning that time. Work harder, plan better, focus with intensity, and I promise you will be able to watch your TV show, play your games, and pursue your hobby with ease and relaxation.
What to do when anxiety takes over
“Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don’t agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the Passion of Christ” ― C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
I want to conclude by stating anxiety is similar to fear and anger. You anxiety exists to warn you of impending danger. Never ignore your anxiety or run away from it. Zero in on the source of the anxiety, seek the resolve the issue, then plan for it in the future.
Are car troubles making you anxious because you have little money in the bank? Put any repairs on the credit card. Set up a budget and take stock of your skills. Can you get a new job? No? Then pursue economically valuable skills while cutting back on your expenses. It’ll be tough but your pursuit of a solution will empower you and decrease your anxiety.
Another example: are you anxious about an upcoming job interview? You should be. However, you can decrease your anxiety by practicing for the interview, strengthening your case, and focusing on what the job needs of you. In the meantime, keep shopping around just in case you don’t earn this job.
The only surefire way to decrease your anxiety is to build a sustainable existence which can withstand the hardships of life. Control your impulses, focus on growth, and become a better person. I know it is terrifying and you will fail. However, stand tall, brush yourself off, and remember how powerful you are. Become an individual and excel past your anxiety and to the future you want.
- Of the seven items on this list, which is hardest for you to do? Why?
- What do you for fun? What relaxes you?
- Have you ever tried detoxing from social media? Are you skeptical of its effectiveness? If you have tried before, did you see a noticeable improvement in your quality of life?
- What do you think your life would be like if you were less anxious?
- Anxiety and Self-Doubt: Perfect Recipe for Underachievement by Leon F Seltzer Ph.D.
- How to Deal With Anxiety by Art of Manliness
- Positive Thoughts To Dwell On by Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Psychologist
- A Stoic Response To Anxiety by Daily Stoic
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.