Overcoming anxiety: 6 practical steps (anyone can take)

Anxiety is a normal part of life, and they can come from around every corner. Everything from deadlines to slow drivers can add a little frustration and anxiety to our lives, and for the most part, we just live with it.

But there are times when anxiety can be too much to handle. Anxiety can freeze you in your tracks, and make it impossible to grow or even participate in any part of your life—work, relationships, hobbies, and even developing yourself. If you find yourself suffering anxiety that cripples you, you might be a victim of clinical anxiety. Some physical symptoms of clinical anxiety include:

  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with your stomach
  • Headaches and tension

Thankfully, anxiety is a mental issue more than anything else, and with the proper strategies, you can get over it yourself. Here are 6 strategies to get over anxiety.

1) Understand What Causes Your Anxiety

The first and most important step towards overcoming anxiety is to understand your anxiety.

How else can you cure it if you don’t know where it’s coming from?

Most of the time, patients of clinical anxiety know the major cause of their anxiety—it might be work, family, relationships.

But these same patients fail to recognize smaller causes of their anxiety, because these smaller causes are overshadowed by the major issue.

Identifying every source of stress and anxiety in your life is crucial.

Take a few hours to truly ask yourself—what is stressing you out? Write it down on a list and keep track of everything that might be making you feel weird.

It could be anything from talking to an old friend to worrying about your kids’ futures.

2) Keep Track of Your Thoughts When You Are Most Anxious

Having an anxiety attack is like being another person for a short while. We lose focus and forget what’s happening, and in a way our consciousness blacks out—what remains is our fear and anxiety, and nothing else.

Everything that we think, do and say during these moments of extreme anxiety comes from a place outside of our major personality; it comes from a place of inner fear and turmoil, something we have no control over.

This means that anxiety is controlling you, and this is exactly the opposite of what you want.

You have to control your anxiety, not the other way around, and to do this you have to know what you are thinking and who you become when you are trapped in your own anxiety.

Recognize the biases and the thoughts going through your head during this moments. You might fit into one of the four common categories below:

1) Personalising: “People don’t like me because I’m boring”
2) Catastrophic thinking: “Imagine if this happened, how horrible that would be”
3) Mind-reading: “Everyone thinks I suck”
4) Fortune-telling: “Tomorrow is going to be terrible”

The more familiar you become with your anxious thoughts, the better equipped you are to squash them.

3) Defeat the Negativity

Now that you have done step 2 and you know what your negative thoughts are, it’s time to counter that negativity. Many people find themselves struggling with this step, simply because they do not know how to talk to themselves.

One easy way to hack through this is to change the dynamics of the conversation—just pretend that you are talking to a friend, not yourself.

If a friend approached you and shared a problem similar to what you are experiencing, just ask yourself, what would you say to them?

4) Familiarize Yourself With the Source of Stress

Growth isn’t always going to be easy, and this will be one of the hardest steps you will have to do: familiarization.

Familiarize yourself with the source of your stress, to the point that it becomes less stressful than it once was.

If you have a fear of crowds, then start teaching yourself to be comfortable with crowds by walking through small crowds or putting yourself in uncomfortable situations.

If you have a fear of speaking to your boss or authority figures, then start small—send them emails or call them on the phone, or meet them outside your place of work.

Little by little, it’s all about improving.

5) Accept the Difficulty

It’s not going to be easy. You will want to give up every step of the way. Why? Because this is one of the most difficult things you could do: facing your biggest fears.

Confronting your sources of stress and anxiety is going against every instinct in your brain, and every voice in your head will be telling you to do the opposite.

But growth requires that you face the uncomfortable and get out of your bubble.

So accept the difficult. There will be days where you will want to give up, but giving up means starting back at square one.

6) You Have to Want It

And finally, the most important point: you have to want it.

None of these strategies will work out if you don’t truly want to become a better version of yourself. So ask yourself—are you ready to change?

Lachlan Brown