I have struggled with anxiety as long as I can remember. Frequent doctor visits to try out new medication, yet nothing seemed to be getting any better. This is when I made the decision to find out about controlling my anxiety for myself.
This led me on a journey of discovery about the brain, the mind and how it all fits together with anxiety. What is going on in my brain when anxiety strikes. And what can I do about it. Far more than just taking another drug, actual steps I can take to make my brain calmer and less anxious. But the problem is this is something that can take years and years of trial and error and not all people will enjoy this as it is a hard road to tread.
It took me a long time to learn the information, and in the mean time I was doing something for the anxiety so that I could learn how to control my own mind and brain.
The bottom line is we all have our own personal journey we walk on this planet and this is something that my brain had not worked it out. I can’t control everything that happens to me, so if I am anxious about something and I get a phone call from an old friend it won’t matter what the cause. I will always be anxious and have a whole other world of anxiety that I am just not prepared to deal with. I didn’t want to do that.
I started researching and doing the little things that I knew helped calm me and in 2012 I had a breakthrough. I had been to a class that year on meditation and the power of my thoughts, and that was it. Suddenly I understood what I had been doing with my thoughts. I started to realize the impact my thoughts can have on me. That is when I started to control my anxiety by thinking of positive things instead of negative things.
I stopped allowing negative thoughts to rule my thoughts. If I had a negative thought I would ask myself ‘Is this the right way to think about this?’ Then I would imagine a beautiful future filled with laughter, and joy. In other words I got rid of all the judgement and negativity. Now this was hard but in the mean time I was focusing on positive things.
Then I started to notice the difference in me. I went from an anxious little bird to a happy little hummingbird. I started laughing all the time! I could have anything I wanted and I would just laugh uncontrollably. I thought I was crazy!
Why am I doing this to myself! Who told me I could change what I was thinking about?
Then the funny thing happened. After a couple of years I noticed that when my day job (which is designing and building websites) wasn’t fun anymore, I also didn’t want to be there. It just wasn’t fun. I started to feel what many designers feel when they come to work. A little panic, little fear, little nervousness and then a little guilty because they are expected to get things done and he is worried he won’t be able to do it.
Then the funny thing happened. After a couple of years I noticed that whenever I felt a little nervous I would put my foot down and do it anyway. I just felt compelled to go and do it. The thing that helped me the most was that I also noticed that doing it just made me feel better. I had to be out there doing it. It had to be fun. It had to be something I would enjoy doing. I could sense that the things I had to get done I would just have to do them. I knew that I could feel good about the things I had to get done.
The thing I noticed that helped me the most was that I was feeling responsible and guilty for things that I had to get done. I remember sitting at work one day and feeling guilty because I had to deliver a report to our CEO, John. He had asked me to brief him on a number of projects we had worked on together. I had to brief him on these projects and give my thoughts on what I thought were his excellent work practices. I was anxious as hell because I knew I would get it done and deliver the report to John. I just couldn’t see how I would do it. That is, until I got to the section that I knew I would have to get done. I took a deep breath and focused on delivering the report to John on time.
I felt amazing! I felt empowered and proud of myself. And I got it done. I thought about this a lot. I realized that we humans are driven by the need for connection. Whether it’s with other humans or with a computer or a watch or a dog or a tree. The connection we feel when we do something is beautiful and unique. That is, unless you have the anxiety of wanting to avoid hurting someone else’s feelings. Then, the connection can be toxic and you can get hurt. The best thing I can say about feeling bad about things that you have to get done is that it is a temporary feeling. It fades quickly and the connection feels great to get it done. That connection is the feeling that makes the best jewelry. It’s the feeling that gets you through life. The feeling I want you to experience if you haven’t yet. Now, let’s talk about some of the techniques you can use to help you to have a great experience with this new anxiety-fueled world you are entering.
First, don’t try to do too much at once. Focus on ONE task at a Time. The way I understand the saying, ” Do more, eat less.” I think it is more appropriate to think of your goals as a mountain to climb and your work as the ropes that will help you to climb the mountain. Think of a mountain as being long, narrow, and steep. The way you climb the mountain is by climbing ONE task at a Time. The most effective way to climb the mountain is to climb one rope at a time. That way, you don’t feel like you have to climb it the entire mountain at one time, like a bunch of five-star climbs would feel like. There are many routes to climb the long, narrow, and steep mountain of getting things done. For the most part, the best routes are the routes that require the least work.
Second, be honest with yourself. Learn to say, “I need a break.” Be careful not to take the time you would have otherwise spent climbing the mountain for a break. This breaks the mental and emotional ascent of the mountain. When you take a break, take a break. Don’t worry, don’t worry, just relax and treat it like a break. You are using the same mental and emotional means to climb the mountain as were used to climb the mountain. You have to get back up that mountain by climbing one rope at a time. A break will not make you climb another rope. It will simply break your climb.
Third, start taking fewer breaks. Once you get back to your work, use only a few minutes to do the work. No more than that. Then, take at least a few minutes to just relax and have fun. Make the rest of the time your own. Do the work. If you can’t do the work, don’t do the work. Don’t worry, just relax and do the work. It’s just work, so just do the work. Learn to let yourself relax and enjoy the process of getting things done.
It’s really that simple. Just do the work and you will get done. Just relax and enjoy the process of getting done. If you can learn how to take a little time for yourself and relax and have fun, you can do the work. Just keep going from job to job, job to job until you are done with the mountain.