You know what really drives me up the wall? It’s when I have nothing to worry about, but I’m still stressed. You know, that meaningless anxiety that creeps up on you no matter what.
There’s reasonable anxiety too, of course. That nervousness you feel before a big deadline at work, or the cloying miasma of concerns that cloud your mind during the holidays. But I’m talking about that particular nasty strain which comes out of nowhere and seems to have no answer. How do you get rid of chronic anxiety? How do I free myself from the condition of constant worry?
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Recognise Your Anxiety
Before I deal with my anxiety, I have to recognise where it’s coming from. It comes in two forms. Either I’m anxious for a good reason, or I’m anxious for no reason at all. I have to know which it is before I can decide what to do about it.
Usually, there’s a simple answer to my problem. I have a big project at work, or I’m not sure where my relationship is going, or I read something in the news that hit a little too close to home. But sometimes? Sometimes, everything’s going great, and I’m still looking over shoulder, waiting for the other shoe to drop…
I call these two different kinds of anxiety ‘Grounded Anxiety’ and ‘Floating Anxiety’. I don’t want to call one ‘Real’ and the other ‘Imagined’. After all, I’m definitely feeling the worry! I just know it’s not attached to anything easily recognisable, or even anything at all.
What to Do About Grounded Anxiety
The anxiety you feel when you have an actual reason to be worried? That’s normal. Everyone feels that. You can deal with that in the same way you deal with other stress. Find ways to relax, seek enjoyment, connect with loved ones, and think positively.
Personally speaking, the easiest way for me to relax when I’m really nervous about work is to remember that no one wants me to fail. In fact, no one wants anyone to fail. Failure means problems, and problems so rarely belong to only one person. Remembering that everyone would like me to succeed helps me feel less judged. I know I will be encouraged and helped if I confess that I need it.
What to Do About Floating Anxiety
Here’s the secret I always forget: it’s all in my head. If I’m worried for no reason, then there really is no reason for me to be worried. So why am I still feeling anxiety? It’s not a single thing that’s causing me to be concerned. It’s the way I’m living my life. It’s my outlook, my attitude, and behaviour. In order to get rid of my floating anxiety, I have to fix the way I live.
Some things that I’ve found useful in managing my floating anxiety are:
• Meditation – Just 15 minutes a day can really change the way you approach your life. I’m still working on this too, but there are plenty of books and gurus to help you find your centre of calm.
• Positive thinking – There’s just no substitute for the power of positive thinking. It’s tougher than it sounds, but training yourself to find the silver lining of every cloud really does transform your outlook, and your ability to handle stress.
• Proper diet – It may sound simple, but that’s because it is. Eating regularly and eating right diminishes your feelings of stress and anxiety, and energises you to deal with all your problems in stride.