Cindy is a 26-year-old sales professional living and working in Washington D.C. She’s recently been hired as an account executive at a multinational technology services company and is now responsible for expanding the company’s east coast client base. Although she’s eager to perform well, she’s been having trouble acclimating to her new role. On top of that, Cindy has been quietly battling episodes of extreme anxiety for quite some time. Cindy knows that she needs to review how she approaches her anxiety if she wants to work towards finding a solution to her problem. What can Cindy do to overcome her anxiety and perform well in her new role? In this article, I’ll share some of the strategies I used to overcome my anxiety in college and how you can use these techniques to do the same.
Anxiety is a physiological disorder that affects a large percentage of the American population. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 40 million Americans over the age of 18 suffer from anxiety. This accounts for almost 15% of the US population! This disorder can have a crippling effect on a person’s day to day life. I suffered from anxiety for two years in college. I was having trouble acclimating to the new scholastic demands that came with studying engineering and my other social obligations (fraternity and clubs) were only adding to the pressure.
I’d find myself attending fraternity events and being frozen in fear as everyone would interact around me. Every 15 minutes or so, I would have to remove myself from the event to compose myself before re-engaging with people. Often times, it would be too much for me and I would end up leaving the event early. There would be times where my anxiety would be so bad I wouldn’t want to leave the house because I thought that I would have a panic attack in public. Although I didn’t seek treatment, I was able to use other techniques to help me overcome my anxiety. Below I’ve listed a few:
Once of the best ways to reduce anxiety in the moment is by taking deep and controlled breaths. I used this technique to relieve my anxiety when my nerves would spike at an event. According to Marla W. Deibler, the director of the Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia, taking deep breaths when you’re feeling anxious helps your body go from the “fight-or-flight” response of the sympathetic nervous system to the relaxed response of the parasympathetic nervous system.
Dr.Deibler suggests slowly inhaling from your belly to the count of 4 and gently holding your breath to the count of 4 before slowly exhaling. This will allow your body to relax and your mind to clear so you can objectively process your environment and react accordingly. Next time you’re feeling extremely anxious try performing a few deep breathing exercises and I’m sure you’ll experience immediate relief.
Question your thoughts
One of the most damaging parts of suffering from anxiety is the negative thoughts that accompany many bouts of anxiousness. I know that whenever I felt extremely anxious, I would constantly second guess my decisions, I would think that I was stupid, socially inept and that I had nothing positive to contribute to the world. These thoughts can damage your self-confidence and make it extremely hard for you to overcome your anxiety. One of the ways you can battle the negative little voice inside your head is to objectively look at your situation and ask yourself questions about the worst case scenario. If you have a negative thought about giving a speech at an event, taking an exam and/or going on a date ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen.
Often times, the worst case scenario isn’t that bad after all. After you objectively look at your situation, replace your negative thoughts with positive words of encouragement. What I would often do when I was feeling down would be to tell myself “You’re awesome dude. Don’t sweat the small stuff”. Over time, I began to believe that I was in fact “awesome” and my whole outlook on life changed. Try this technique out for yourself and see how it works for you.
Talk to someone
When I was suffering from anxiety in college, I felt as though I couldn’t share how I was feeling with anyone. I was scared about what people might think and didn’t want to address my painful feelings. Although I was able to eventually make it through my episode of anxiety, I know that I would’ve been able to overcome it sooner had I just written my emotions down and talked about my feelings with others. In a study conducted by Dr. Pennebaker of the University of Texas, Dr. Pennebaker examined how writing out and sharing your emotions affects anxiety and stress levels. In the study, Dr. Pennebaker’s team concluded that people who wrote down their feelings and shared them with others experienced stress-relief and reduced their anxious emotions.
It can be hard to express your struggles to others for the first time. If you find it hard coming up with the words to say, try writing down your thoughts on paper. Not only will this allow you to organize your thoughts, but it will also help your body relax and relieve your emotions of anxiety. Next, reach out to someone you can talk to about your situation. This person can be a spouse/significant other, a trusted friend or a therapist. Ask them if they have time during the week to talk about your situation. Often times, they’ll be glad to make time for you. Once the day of your talk arrives, walk through your feelings and explain your frustrations. Talking this out with your trusted confidant will make you feel better about your situation and help you reduce your anxious feelings.
Living with anxiety is truly a crippling experience and if not addressed can affect various areas of your life. Although addressing your negative feelings and emotions can be a difficult proposition, only by doing so can you rid yourself of these negative feelings once and for all. I know the road ahead will be a difficult one to travel but know that I’m here to support you and provide any advice you may need. Have you suffered from anxiety in the past and overcome it? Do you have advice that will help our readers in their life? If so, I’d love to hear from you.
My book recommendation for this book is “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson. In this book, you’ll learn how to overcome that negative voice in your head and how to not care about what others think of you. Using these techniques, you can begin to focus on what is really important in life and start making a positive impact on others. I highly recommend this book and have provided the link below:
Be sure to download your FREE Chapter of my upcoming book “The Millennial Playbook: Proven Success Strategies for the Millennial Generation”. In this chapter, you’ll learn financial strategies you can use to improve your future financial outlook. Check it out!