By living with anxiety, I try to understand why I think the way I do. It is extremely frustrating, but this month I have had the chance to really sit down with myself and reflect after a long period of not doing so. A common feeling that comes up is self-hate and imposter syndrome. I feel almost constant anxiety around doing something wrong (to the point I do nothing at all), being angry at myself for something that happened in the past, and worrying about how I am perceived. Believe me, that is a lot to be thinking about each day.
“Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.”Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Living and Questioning Existence
One of my biggest insecurities, which in turn lead to some of my worst anxieties is imposter syndrome – basically feeling like I have fooled the world into thinking I am something I’m not. Sometimes at my job, for example, I begin questioning if I am even supposed to be there. Like they made a mistake hiring me. Meanwhile, I went through the same extensive interview process as everyone else who applied for the same position.
Though imposter syndrome is not always correlated with depression or anxiety, for me it definitely is. Feeling inadequate often reflects in my work – I start to feel paralyzed in the fear that I will mess up before I even start. It stresses me out so much that sometimes I badly procrastinate and even rush and just turn things in so I don’t have to think about them.
It is a daunting feeling when your brain just seems to shut down and you cannot perform tasks you normally are very capable of doing. This does not just stop with work-related things. It bleeds into my relationships: am I a good friend, sister, daughter, partner or etc.? It consumes me.
Down the Rabbit Hole…
So, after experiencing all of the anxiety over not feeling good enough – a person can become depressed. After depression hits…well, if you are reading this you probably already know how that goes.
There is no “quick fix”. Changing how we perceive ourselves and the world can be a lifelong journey. Something that has been helping me is practicing mindfulness – staying in the moment and being aware of ourselves, our thoughts, and our surroundings. It is challenging halting your thoughts as to not have that spitfire of negative thoughts. But stopping and avoiding those thoughts is not always the answer.
Mindfulness in the face of anxiety can sometimes be: honing in on the thought you are having, write down how it is making you feel emotionally and physically. Asking yourself, what happened to make you feel this way. Anything to cause you to pause and “get out” of your head.
My Favorite Mindfulness Tricks:
- Breathe! I find that when I start getting anxious my breathing becomes short, causing my body to go into a state of panic. I inhale and exhale deeply for five seconds.
- Get fresh air – nature is healing, I tend to escape and go outside and take it all in.
- Have something tangible to hold onto to bring you back to the present. I keep healing crystals at my work desk. When I get overwhelmed I tend to hold onto my Tiger’s Eye. It is said to dispel fear and anxiety, it works for me. Plus the cool smooth texture is calming to me.
- Go to a bookstore. Again, I love tangibility. I find joy in walking through a bookstore and seeing what catches my eye to add to my list of “to reads”
- Phoning a friend always helps. My best friend is practically on speed dial. Talking with her reminds me that I am human. She reminds me that others can have the same fears and anxieties as I do. I feel less alone.
- Listen to music. Music fuels me and I use it frequently to help with my moods and anxiety. Listen to the different instruments, vocals, whatever it is you love about music just focus on that.
Interested in more mindfulness tips? Check out these tips from Mindful.org. Get some handy and easy to remember acronyms to fit your mindfulness needs.
Living with Yourself
Living with anxiety is no easy task, and those tips are not foolproof. I don’t even remember to do a lot of them most of the time. But, healing is a gradual process. It takes time. For myself living with anxiety requires me to be patient and loving to myself. In conclusion, I am pretty confident to go as far as to say that it is a big key.
Feature image from mindful.org