Anxiety: The “friend” that overstays its welcome

Anxiety is the primary symptom/diagnosis that I treat at Benhaven Counseling. Anxiety is tricky, it can be insidious. It can be constant and is something that feeds on self-doubt– and it loves to stick around for as long as it can. Today’s blog will address anxiety and offer tips for managing it.

We all have some degree of anxiety in our lives, and while some have more than others, anxiety dictates how some people manage their lives. It can cause us to overthink, doubt, be consumed in self-loathing behavior, be sleep deprived, isolated, and worried– it can plain disrupt your life. There are some good forms of anxiety, but today, we are going to talk about the bad types of anxiety and what you can do about it.

We’re headed into Fall and that means ’tis the season for gatherings and get-togethers! Sounds exciting, right? Maybe, but not for those who have anxiety. The family gatherings, parties, and “Friendsgiving” celebrations can be intimidating and downright scary.

For someone with anxiety, heading out to a gathering, no matter what the size can be a huge burden. Anxiety might say to you, “I don’t know the people there, what if I say something stupid?” ” What if I don’t know what to say?” “What if they all hate my tuna casserole?” The what if’s may soon morph into, “I WILL say something stupid, so I shouldn’t go”, “I am NOT an interesting person so I have nothing to talk about”, “my tuna casserole is for the birds, so of course, they WON’T like it!”

When our minds are consumed with anxious thoughts, we must take a moment and ACKNOWLEDGE that anxiety is present. This is the first step in overcoming those harmful feelings. Next, we must practice POSITIVE SELF TALK which includes, affirming ourselves by saying positive things to and about ourselves in response to our negative thoughts. Finally, once we take the first two steps, we can effectively begin COUNTERING those negative thoughts. Here are some counter statements on how to do that: “Why would I say something stupid? “What is the worst thing I can say?” “Am I going to say that I think that elephants are flying in my neighborhood?” “No, probably not, and if I did who cares!”

You can work yourself through those uncomfortable moments, and you can conquer anxiety. Anxiety likes to introduce us to distorted thoughts. Anxiety magnifies the “what if this, what if that’s”, and the thoughts that things won’t work out when in fact there is no evidence to support that. Countering is to redirect and smack that anxiety in the face.

Putting ourselves down and worrying about how something social might turn out, is our self-doubt. If you are invited to a party, then somebody liked you enough to want to include you, so you are already worthy. Remember, you are liked, and you can be yourself. If you are an introvert, like me then sure, you may not be the life of the party, but you don’t want to be that anyway, so you are in control. You can leave the party when you want, you can change the direction of conversations, or you can just be there and take it all in. There is no pressure to perform, you are fine as you are. If you are the host/hostess of a party, you will do great, because you can have people over and spend time with you. Nothing is perfect, so if your tank runs out, you can’t make food, and you have hungry guests, laugh it off, and make it a delivery night!

I understand that this may sound a bit silly, and lighthearted, but let’s review the important points that I hope to leave you with. First, acknowledge your anxiety. Next, get in the habit of practice positive self talk. Finally, practice countering those anxious thoughts with what you know to be positive and factual. Employing these coping strategies is 80% of the battle in fighting anxiety. It isn’t all doom and gloom that’s why anxiety is the friend that doesn’t want to leave the party.

This will not be the last time I write about anxiety, but this is a good start. Please let me know if there are any questions or comments and, please know, you are not alone in your battle, we are here for you!

Contact Benhaven Counseling to set up an appointment.