If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety, it’s not surprising. Anxiety is the leading mental health disorder in the nation, affecting 18% of adults and 7% of children. Even though anxiety affects many people, there are still many misconceptions and untruths circling around about this topic. Today I want to discuss these common misconceptions to determine what anxiety is not.
What anxiety is not & why it’s important you know
Let me ask you something, do you collect anything? You know, like coins, vinyl records, or memorabilia from a favorite pop culture genre.
I mean, it’s pretty common to have a collection, right? But, have you ever collected something unintentionally?
Recently I realized I have inadvertently been collecting fluffy socks. I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s true.
Here’s how it started.
So basically, for every occasion when someone asks me what I want for a gift, I always say comfy socks or fluffy socks or slippers socks. Can you blame me? I mean I like my feet to be warm and I like the warming device to be comfortable, there’s nothing wrong with that.
The problem is that I fail to realize how many pairs of fluffy socks I already own.
You know how socks are, you can never find them when you’re looking for them. They get lost easily. Whether it be stuck in the couch cushion, stuffed under your bed, or the monster inside your dryer ate them, those pairs of socks tend to become singular fellows at a rapid pace.
Another thing that happens is one or maybe both will get a hole in the bottom, a hole that you don’t realize is there until you go to wear them. Even though you know about the hole, you decide to wear the sock anyway because it’s too much trouble to find another sock in the drawer full of singular socks.
Once you take the socks off, instead of just throwing them away, you put them in the hamper, end up washing them, and putting them back in your drawer of socks for the next time you’re looking for a pair.
Then the next time someone asks you what you’d like for your birthday, you remember that most of your socks are either missing or have holes in them, so you say you’d like some socks…
and the cycle continues.
So yes, I began collecting fluffy socks. I didn’t do it on purpose, nor did I even realize I was doing it until it was too late.
Anxiety is much like my unexpected sock collection.
Where does anxiety begin?
With anxiety, you go along day by day picking up and gathering different thoughts and impressions here and there and storing them away for later.
You don’t intend to keep these thoughts, you do it without even realizing. Then these thoughts become a large overwhelming pile. When, if given too much attention, start to become a real burden on your mental health.
Now if these were positive thoughts, self-esteem inducing thoughts, then maybe collecting them up would be a good thing.
But the problem with anxiety is, these are bad thoughts. They are the thoughts that feed your anxiety. It becomes a vicious cycle of self-destruction that if left untreated can turn into a full blown anxiety disorder.
- What if’s
- Feeling out of control
And the more of these bad thoughts that you collect, the fuller your head becomes. The harder it is to put other thoughts in there.
As your head fills up with these thoughts, the more control they have over your life. Until they consume all the space and the fear is all you have.
This is how your anxiety takes control and stops you in your tracks.
What anxiety is not
Knowing how anxiety gets its start, it seems hard to comprehend how anyone could think that anxiety is a made-up ailment that people use to get attention or special treatment.
People don’t set out to create an anxiety disorder, it happens over time, and oftentimes without the person even realizing it’s happening. You inadvertently end up with a huge collection of anxious thoughts and subsequent reactions even though you never intended to.
Having anxiety is not your fault. You didn’t do it on purpose. You never even intended for it to be.
Maybe you never even thought it would happen to you.
Anxiety is not:
Anxiety disorder and panic attacks are real medical conditions. They are not made up or pretend.
Stress is how your body reacts to pressure or change either externally or internally, such as an upcoming deadline or potential danger. Stress comes and goes as life happens, once the stressor goes away, usually the stress you are feeling stops as well.
With anxiety, however, you still react as though the stressor is still present even after it stops. While anxiety can make you feel you are in a dangerous situation, usually you are safe.
Anyone who says this has obviously never experienced anxiety. Trust me, no one who has, would ever just choose to have it.
While anxiety can cause symptoms that are similar to nervousness, with anxiety there isn’t always a clear reason for experiencing it.
Anticipation & Excitement
It’s definitely not just a feeling of being excited about something, although it can have the same effects on your body. With anxiety, it’s like being excited about something that doesn’t exist.
Having an anxiety disorder does not mean you are weak. It just means you’ve been busy collecting up those anxious thoughts and you need to deal with them. Learning to manage your anxiety will actually make you a stronger person.
People accuse those suffering from anxiety of using it to avoid work, people, responsibilities, or anything they believe the sufferer is trying to get out of doing.
The truth is, people suffering from anxiety may sometimes avoid certain things, but it’s because those things are possible or probable triggers, not because they are lazy.
While a person suffering from anxiety may indeed lash out in anger, it’s the reasons behind that anger that make it more than just getting mad. Sometimes, a person with anxiety will respond in anger when they are feeling a complete loss of control in any given situation. They don’t know how to deal with the situation so the frustration and fear can turn into anger quickly.
Anxiety doesn’t follow any rules, it does whatever it wants. Even if your rational mind can see that your response or your fear is irrational, the person is still at its mercy. Trying to force them to see the logic of the situation during an episode is completely pointless and hurtful.
To be taken lightly
Anxiety is a serious medical condition. Do not treat it as though it isn’t.
When someone is experiencing an anxiety attack, their bodies and minds are completely overwhelmed. Never dismiss their need for assistance or react in a flippant manner. Instead, be there for them in whatever way they need at that moment.
It’s important to know that everyone experiences some anxiety during times of change, excitement, or when danger is present. It’s a bodies’ natural response.
However, when the anxiety is occurring regularly and seemingly without provocation, this may be an indicator of a more serious problem.
Your mental health should be cared for and cherished. Don’t take your mental health for granted. Just like all the areas of wellness, mental health and emotional health need to be maintained.
If you don’t take care of your mental health, just like your physical health, it can deteriorate and problems will arise.
Now that you know What Anxiety Is Not, what can you do to improve it?
One way to ensure a healthy mental state is by practicing self check-ins regularly.
Self check-ins are when you take time to ask yourself, how am I doing?
A good self check-in should include:
- How am I doing both mentally and physically?
- Mood Tracker
- Things I am worried about
- Things I am doing well
- One thing I learned today or this week
Now that you know What Anxiety Is Not, let’s start working on ways to improve and manage anxiety. We have created two workbooks to help manage anxiety that you can grab right here in our shop.
To learn more, click the link above. Grab one for you or someone you know who suffers from anxiety and help gain back control today!
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