I wish I could say that there’s no anxiety in my life, that I feel perfectly in control of my situation and surroundings at all times, but that would be a lie. Having schizophrenia, I experience anxiety every day of life in some form or another. Whether it’s social anxiety when I have to talk to someone to order food or buy something or, God forbid, to actually get to know someone; or whether it’s anxiety about my situation and the things I have yet to do and the things I’ve done.
Like it or not, anxiety is as much a part of life as jobs or relationships. I think it’s a disservice by gurus and the like to spout off about living a life free of anxiety when the fact is that anxiety is what makes us aware that we’re human. I’ve learned this fact the hard way.
The things to be careful of though, is unnecessary anxiety. Essentially this is the anxiety that doesn’t need to be there. You know it’s unreasonable, and yet you still struggle with it. Maybe it’s the result of some past trauma or an innate insecurity, but it still rears its ugly head at the most inconvenient times.
I’m well aware of this anxiety, and I live with it, but there are things I do which help to reign it in. First and foremost, I accept it; that’s how I calm anxiety. I look at the thing and the anxiety that I’m feeling and I tell myself that it’s perfectly valid to feel scared. That alone can be life-changing. When you allow yourself to feel the things normal human beings feel. I look at it and I say “this is a valid feeling, I accept this.”
Usually that helps take the fight out of it. For the longest I fought to get rid of it; I struggled so unnecessarily to stop it, and what I was missing the whole time was the fact that it’s normal to feel things. It’s ok to be scared and it’s ok to be nervous and being ok with these things is a huge weight of your shoulders. Being allowed to feel the full gamut of human emotion allows us to learn more deeply about ourselves and how we tend to react to certain situations.
That’s just the first step though. Next you have to decide for yourself that you don’t want to be ruled by the unreasonable anxiety. You have to say to yourself, I’m not going to be afraid anymore. Keep that phrase in mind whenever you enter a situation where your anxiety has the potential to flare up and, if you keep that thought in your mind, you’ll automatically take the steps necessary to quell the feeling of fear. You’ll breathe deeply, and you’ll calm yourself and relax your shoulders.
Essentially this is being prepared for a stressful situation. I imagine it’s the same mindset before playing in a big football game or going into a big interview. You’ll have prepared yourself for the stress, and you will be able to handle it better. It also serves to reinforce the idea that you don’t have to put on an act, which everybody can see through already. It means you’ll be fully there for the situation, and the hope is that once you’ve faced and confronted that fear, having been prepared for it, it will be easier to handle the next time something like that occurs.
The truth is, I’m not a doctor and I don’t know the clinical efficacy of either of these strategies aside from discussing them with my therapist, but they seem the best way I know how to calm anxiety.