Dear Emily, I've Got Anxiety

Dear Emily,

I’ve got mad anxiety. How can I fix it?


Your Subconscious

As the world keeps turning faster, it seems that nearly everyone I know is experiencing some level of anxiety regularly in their life. For me, it usually manifests around planning. Do I have a plan for the “future”? Is it a good plan? What if something goes wrong? What if something changes and I have to throw my whole plan out the window? What if I don’t have a plan at all?

Regardless of how you experience it in your own life, taming your anxiety and facing your fears can be intimidating, frustrating, and debilitating if you aren’t equipped with the tools to do so.

First, what is anxiety? In it’s simplest form, it is fear. Worrying about the future? Fear. Worrying about the ways in which the future could go wrong? Fear. Of course, we can’t predict the future- so how can you prepare for what you do not know? Irrational fear. How can you possibly face the unknown without proper preparation or warning? Are you feeling anxious yet just reading these questions?? I am! This thought pattern creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts- you expect life to go wrong, it does, and you’re angry/disappointed/upset about it. This negative experience confirms the belief you had that you needed to worry about the future, and it perpetuates the anxiety.

But what if we flipped that on its head and expected life to go (dare I say it?) right?

Seriously, take a minute and let your perspective shift and really envision what that would be like. What if instead of dwelling on the negative possibilities we focused on the positives? For every answer to the infamous, “what if….?”, that is negative, there is also a positive.

Change, “What if the date goes terribly?” to, “What if the date is amazing?” and the energy surrounding the statement changes completely. Go from, “Wow, work is going to be stressful today.” to, “What can I do to create moments of positivity throughout my 8 hours in the office?” and you immediately start looking for the good, rather than the bad. I’m definitely not saying that you won’t ever go on bad dates or have stressful days at the office, but your attitude surrounding those experiences will shift, creating a new experience in and of itself.

Think of your brain like any other muscle in your body; it requires training and exercise to stay healthy. However, it can be difficult to know where to start. Just like there are fitness training programs to help you exercise your physical body, you have to seek out the tools to exercise your mental and emotional “muscles” as well. Seeking out those tools and people (i.e. a therapist or some kind of professional that specializes in helping people work through their emotional patterns) is the key to overcoming anxiety. While I’m offering a few solutions here that you can implement at home, it is in no way replacing the help of a mental health professional.

A few things that I have found to help me when I’m feeling anxious…

  • Turn off the phone. Seriously- between the people who may be calling/texting and the temptation of comparing yourself to the seemingly-perfect people in your Instagram feed- your phone can amplify your anxiety. I’m not saying you should go a-wall for several weeks without telling anyone, but turn it off for an hour or two and focus on yourself.

  • A self-care routine! I know you’ve heard this before, but it really works. REALLY. Put on some relaxing music, light a candle, moisturize the crap outta your body, cuddle up in your favorite sweatshirt with the stains on the front that you can’t wear in public, and take a few deep breaths. Taking a pause and finding your center is so important in taming anxious feelings, because when you’re grounded, you can approach problems with rationality rather than a fear-driven emotion. Something to note- self care looks different for everyone. So if your self care routine looks completely different than mine, that is totally normal and okay. Also, my self care routine doesn’t always look the same. Some days it means going to the gym, some days it is going on a hike, some days it is cuddling up in bed with a face mask on. Do what feels good to you.

  • 3 letters: EFT. It stands for Emotional Freedom Technique. Curious? I thought you might be. It is also referred to as tapping or psychological acupressure. Of all the anti-anxiety techniques out there, this is perhaps one of the most effective I have ever witnessed. It is physically and emotionally grounding, and is a scientifically backed method that can actually help you overcome anxiety in the long term. Simply put, you repeat a series of mantras that allow you to confront and accept your anxiety as you tap along specific meridians on your face and body. You can do it anywhere, anytime. Learn more about this method here- because let’s be honest, I’m not doing it any justice trying to explain it in a few sentences.

  • 3 more letters: CBD! This stuff can be a huge aid when it comes to anxiety. In its different forms, CBD can be used to ease physical discomfort, help you find a state of mental calm, and can be a great tool to keep in your self care toolbox, so to speak. One of my favorite forms is this Josie Maran Cosmetics CBD + Argan Oil for your skin! It can be used to calm headaches, menstrual cramps, muscle soreness, and any kind of skin irritation! Straight magic.

While what works for me may not work for you, I think the most important takeaway here is this. Never feel like you are alone. To varying degrees, everyone experiences imperfections and has anxiety or fear about some aspect of their life. They’re lying if they say they don’t. Sharing your experience and solutions with other people will only strengthen your understanding of yourself, and may help someone else find their own solutions.

Don’t forget that you often don’t know someone else’s full story. Be compassionate and help each other. We ALL need a little more of that in our lives.