Anxiety is one of those disorders that’s rarely taken seriously by those who don’t suffer from it. To everyone else, sufferers are spending all their time worrying and fretting about issues that are little more than the mewl of a tiny kitten. To the sufferer, though, it can often feel like there’s a lion around every corner, and you’re trying to live your life while avoiding getting eaten at parties, mauled at work meetings, and stalked while you’re trying to workout.
Dealing with anxiety is no picnic, and it only gets worse if you buy into the common cultural myths about how you should fight this particular mental monster. These myths are brought to you by Psych Central and Anxiety Centre.
Myth #1: You Need To Catalog The Cause To Deal With The Symptom
People like it when things make sense. If you once had a terrible experience at a concert, and you developed anxiety that manifested whenever you were in a big crowd, that seems like a simple cause-and-effect sort of scenario. The truth is, though, the human brain is rarely so linear. Fortunately, you don’t need to understand the cause to start trying to heal from it.
That might sound confusing, but it’s important to remember that your anxiety exists, whether you know the cause or not. So it only makes sense that you would try to deal with your symptoms, and find coping mechanisms that work for you, sooner rather than later. You don’t need to know why your leg is broken in order to set and splint it. It’s helpful, and you should attempt to figure out the root causes of your anxiety whenever you can, but you shouldn’t use not knowing as an excuse to wait on finding potential solutions.
Myth #2: There’s Nothing You Can Do About It
Acceptance is the key to healing, when it comes to anxiety. There’s a big difference between accepting that you have anxiety, and resigning yourself to it, however.
Admitting that you have anxiety is a positive step. It shows that you are dealing with your situation, and that you recognize the difficulties you need to overcome. However, acceptance is just the first step. Once you’ve accepted your situation, you need to start the long journey to figure out what methods will minimize your flare-ups and outbreaks. For some people, it means taking medication. For others, it means lifestyle changes, which could include everything from more exercise, regular meditation, or going to a support group. Everyone is unique, but having anxiety doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to minimize its impact on your life.
Myth #3: Time Heals All Wounds
While it’s true that time is a factor in coping with anxiety, you need to spend that time actively working on building bridges if you expect to get over your anxiety. Imagine, for a moment, that you were dealing with a physical injury. While it’s true that the initial wound would heal over time, you still have to go through the difficult, and often painful, physical therapy in order to get your body back into top shape.
Anxiety is the same way. You can just avoid your triggers, the same way you can choose to use a crutch if your leg was injured. However, strengthening your mind and working through pain will have better results in the end. You don’t overcome problems by sitting and waiting.
Myth #4: You Can Just Stop Being Anxious
Everyone who deals with anxiety has had someone tell them to, “just stop it.” As if anxiety was a button they could hit, and turn off. Anxiety sufferers, though, are caught in the riptide of their own mind. They can’t turn it off anymore than someone can demand that the tide go out. What sufferers can do, though, is strengthen their ability to hang on, and resist the tide. With practice, what would once have been enough to sweep you away will just be a minor strain. But that change isn’t going to happen overnight.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from anxiety, don’t wait to get help. Instead, contact us today!