3 Tips for Understanding your Anxiety

If you experience anxiety, you are not alone.

If I’ve learned anything in the last 5 years, it’s that anxiety affects everyone. There hasn’t been a single person I’ve met who hasn’t experienced it to some extent. Of course, people feel it in different ways, but again, you are not alone.

When I was in highschool, I used to have panic attacks every day. They were debilitating. I could feel them coming, and the stress of knowing they were on the cusp just made me more anxious. I would have to leave school, spend days in my room, avoid talking to people. My anxiety took over my life in a very major way. I lost a lot of friends. People in my life didn’t understand why I was acting the way I was, or why I was such a “debbie downer”. I started going to therapy. Then I stopped therapy. Then I started again. Figuring out how to handle my emotions was a real rollercoaster for me.

But now, 5 years later, I rarely ever experience panic attacks. I know exactly what triggers anxious feelings for me, and I know how to calm myself down. I let the people around me know how I’m feeling and how to help me when I need it. I’ve finally gotten a handle on it and I’ve completely changed my life.

Understanding your Anxiety

3 Steps to Understanding your Anxiety

Whenever I talk to my friends, I give them all the same piece of advice.

1. Observe.

It’s just like you’re in science class again with the scientific method (QHTOAD anyone??). I tell them to go about their normal lives, and just watch themselves. Take note of every decision they make, every action they perform, every feeling they experience. I tell them to acknowledge how much they slept, ate, exercised, interacted with others. Truly just observe themselves.

2. Analyze.

Then, I tell them to question it all. Why did they make the decisions they did? Why did they feel how they felt?

For example: Something I told myself I would start doing this year was go places by myself. I’ve always been someone who feels more comfortable with a companion, and I wanted to learn to love my own company. Loving my own company would force me to be confident in myself, which would thus reduce some of my social anxiety. Win-win-win.

So, I started doing just that. For about a month, every day off that I had, I went somewhere unfamiliar by myself. Normally, my location of choice was a coffee shop in a neighboring town or city. Some days, I even ventured into New York City by myself. There was one day that I had woken up early, got dressed, packed up my computer, and set on my way. I went to a city about 30 minutes from my house, with the directions to a new coffee shop I had found on Yelp. Once I got there and parked my truck, I sat there. In my car. For an hour.

While I was sitting, I was just scrolling through social media, organizing my purse, wasting my time. And finally, I realized it. I asked myself why I drove all this way and found somewhere new only to sit in my car. Then I analyzed. I was sitting there because I was scared. I was anxious, and I nervous to walk in there by myself.

What if there’s nowhere to sit? If I can’t find an outlet and my computer dies, what do I do then? Are people going to try to talk to me? 

My mind was racing with the most ludicrous thoughts that felt so massive and so heavy.

Understanding your Anxiety3. Do.

Finally, I hopped out of the car, walked over to the cafe, and made myself at home. And you know what happened? Surprise, surprise, I loved it. The cafe had everything I was looking for. My favorite chai latte, semi-private seating, amazing music, outlets everywhere. My paradise. I spent a few hours there just writing and listening to music and observing. It was a perfect afternoon for me.

Once I put myself out there and did what I knew scared me, it became easier. I had a wonderful time in this new location by myself. Most of the time I was there, I was thinking about what I realized that day. That going to new places truly triggers my anxiety, and it will absolutely control me if I let it. Ever since that day, I take mental notes of how I act every time I go somewhere new, especially when I’m by myself.

Oberve. Analyze. Do.

Keeping these 3 steps in my mind every single day has helped me tremendously in understanding my anxiety. I truly feel that I have a handle on it now, and it’s helped me get to know myself. Now I know the things that work for me, and things that don’t, and I can be true to myself in everything I do. It’s provided me with the courage to keep trying new things, and grow as a person without letting anxiety get the best of me.

Let me know if you try this, and if it helps you! I’d LOVE to hear from you guys!


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2 thoughts on “3 Tips for Understanding your Anxiety”

  • Great blog it’s difficult to really implement these things cause they actually require attention from all the busy bee stuff we have to do on the daily but results are results and being a power lifter I know that if I don’t practice watch/learn and execute and believe I’m going to make the lift I’ll never be able to do it so I see how observe analyze and do relates to my own anxiety. Great read keep it up 🙂

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