By Ernest Schmidt, LCSW
While you can seek out many powerful tools and methods to reduce anxiety, including cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation exercises, and general stress management counseling, whether or not these methods will have a dramatic impact on your life may depend on your willingness to live an anxiety-free life.
Are you willing to conquer your anxiety?
This may seem like a basic question with an obvious answer; it seems like common sense that everyone should want to free themselves from anxiety and the stress that comes along with it. In reality, though, it’s never that simple. To find relief, anxiety sufferers have to make a conscious decision to make changes in the way they go about their lives. If you want to get past your anxiety, you must:
- Let go of the belief that your worries (and resulting precautionary actions) will help keep you and your loved ones safe. People who suffer from anxiety might wonder if a life with less anxiety will leave them less prepared for accidents and illnesses, for example by not worrying about loading up on hand sanitizer to help ward off every germ that might cross your path.
- Live more in the present. Agonizing over all the potential negative things that can happen in the future won’t do anything but cause you to lose sleep. Although no one can guarantee that bad things won’t happen to you or your family, you can choose to lower your anxiety by enjoying the here and now.
- Be open to mistakes. When you don’t spend as much time preparing and worrying about outcomes, you might open yourself up to making mistakes during presentations or anxiety-inducing social events. To lessen your anxiety, you have to accept the fact that mistakes are a normal part of life and learn to take the good with the bad.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing
Rest assured that you don’t have to let go of all your anxiety overnight or even make the complete transition from a worry-filled life to one of carefree abandonment. You can find a happy medium that allows you to make preparations and go about some of your familiar behaviors while also learning to let go. It’s all about finding the right mix that allows you to enjoy your life while also taking reasonable safety precautions.
By allowing yourself to feel a certain level of anxiety, you are taking control of the anxiety instead of letting it control you and your life. Remember that at many levels it is a choice. Often, once you realize your true relationship with anxiety and stop fighting yourself and your own personal choices, you can more easily overcome high levels of anxiety and begin to find more enjoyment in your life.
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