By Morag Barrett
Did you know that over 300 million people have been diagnosed with anxiety? So many people suffer from it and over half of them don’t receive treatment for it. Why on EARTH not!?
I sat down with Deborah Grayson Reigel who is a keynote speaker and consultant, professor, and contributor to the Harvard Business Review, PsychologyToday, and Fast Company. (That’s just a few!) She is also the author of Overcoming Overthinking: 36 Ways To Tame Anxiety for Work, School, and Life. Talk about an impressive human.
For those of you who ruminate about the past, feel stressed in the present, and worry about the future, this article, podcast, and Deborah’s book will help you challenge your thinking, create new strategies, and connect with others so that you can live the life you want--and, let’s be honest, deserve.
How do we normalize the stigma around mental illness? The first step is normalizing being vulnerable about our struggles. That being said, let’s get vulnerable and dive in.
Anxiety is a cycle. Thinking drives feelings. Feelings drive behaviors. Behaviors drive your thinking. The first step is recognizing the cycle and our own patterns. This is one of the things we have control over (excluding those who are dealing with trauma where some things are really out of the control of an individual). It can feel like anxiety decides your feelings, but the word ‘drive’ here is very intentional. You can choose your thoughts, or at least which thoughts you choose to listen to.
Many times, our anxiety is overamplifying something that it thinks we need to give more attention to. Where someone who does not struggle with anxiety might ask, “Why are you anxious?” ask yourself, “I am feeling anxious, what’s that about?” It creates more self-compassion and allows you to make room for understanding your anxiety, and ultimately turning the volume down on the thoughts and feelings that may be triggering you. (Sidenote: I found the self-compassion aspect SO beautiful in our interview.)
Many of us don’t have strategies in place to work with anxiety or, we do, but they aren’t helpful strategies. This might seem odd, but give your anxiety gratitude for trying to alert you to something that might seem important! Look through the lens of anxiety as trying to help you and create more self-compassion. Meet your anxiety where it is. If you can name your emotions, you can actually take the intensity out of it and gain more control over the situation. Learning to name the emotions you are feeling is a powerful strategy in learning how to work with anxiety instead of against anxiety.
One of our instincts when dealing with anxiety is to self-isolate (talk about a bad idea). That might be the last thing you need! We need our allies - our “sit in the shit” and “pull me out of the poop” friends! (Listen to the podcast to get this reference. ;)) Arm yourself with allies who are there for you during particularly anxious times, whether that is to sit in it with you or to help you combat it, have your team set.
You’re not alone. Just because you have anxiety does not mean you have to suffer and you definitely don’t have to suffer alone.
Take a listen to the podcast or watch the video here: