Having anxiety can be a huge deterrent to your growth as a person. Anxiety can be very debilitating, and the road to recovery is long and full of obstacles.
One of the biggest reasons people struggle with anxiety so long is their priorities. Most people have a career and personal success as the foremost priorities, with recovery from anxiety being an adjacent goal. Many people believe that by achieving external goals they can also achieve internal healing. This is wishful thinking, at best.
Having struggled with anxiety myself for years, even minor inconveniences like a price change in my cable packages could upset me. I got everything I aimed for in life, my dream job, a great salary and a big bonus each year. Yet none of it contributed at all to my recovery.
Here are the habits I adopted that helped me kick anxiety right out of my life:
Taking a Break from Unhelpful Relationships
The company you keep and the relationships you form contribute a lot to the quality of your life. However, if a relationship isn’t adding any value to your life, it is definitely subtracting it.
This is something that many people with anxiety, including myself, experience firsthand. It may sound selfish, but I left my friends when I realized we weren’t on the same page. It may sound selfish but its true.
Many people develop strong relationships with their “boys” or “girls” and form loyalty for them. This makes it especially hard to break away from relationships that are in reality offering you nothing.
It may seem selfish and hard in the short-term, but for your long-term mental health, you will have to take this step. Remember, relationships are the most important aspect of alleviating depression.
Once you have recovered significantly, you can slowly ease yourself back if you really can’t do without your friends.
Taking a Break from Alcohol
One important habit that I kicked was my dependence on alcohol. If you need a couple of beers before you become sociable, maybe you ought to consider the same. After all, do you really want to be dependent on alcohol as a prerequisite for social interactions?
Self-medication at all levels is never a good idea. Alcohol is a recognized depressant, and the hangover will give you acute bouts of anxiety. This is what prompted me to take a break from alcohol.
I have reintroduced it back into my life after a 90-day period and I’ve never felt better. Aside from the mental clarity, you learn to discover healthy ways to blow off steam and socialize. Without alcohol as the center of every non-work social activity, you gain a certain freedom from social pressure.
Many people will be astonished at your abstinence, and many will try to push “just one” drink on you. Don’t give in. They do this because they perceive your actions as an attack on their lifestyle when it’s just an improvement of your own. Stay true to yourself!
Staying away from the TV
Contrary to popular belief, TV does not improve your quality of life, even if you’re not watching it regularly.
When I moved to a new city, at first I didn’t have a TV out of necessity. This later became a choice. I actively chose not to have a TV in my house and I still don’t. Why?
TV is intended to be a filler for “dead space” in your life. I wanted to use this dead space for something other than hearing about the next airstrike or the next Kardashian.
Instead of watching TV, I started reading. In one year I read more than 80 new books, which staggers people whenever they hear it.
The thing about TV is its always trying to cover changing ideas. Change may be good, but not constantly. Read more “stationary” stuff like the works of men and women who changed the world. Read about philosophical discourse. Educate yourself and build your own unique worldview.
At the end of the day, TV is just junk food for the brain. Books offer you the opportunity to build on yourself. The choice is clear. If you enjoy movies, then suck it up and go to theatres.
Stop Caring About Other’s opinions of You
As anyone who has ever suffered from anxiety can tell you, it is characterized by caring about other people’s opinion. Whether it’s your work or your personal life, you need to learn not to care about what these people think.
I follow a little list I made of the people whose opinions matter to me. Everyone else can keep their opinions as they wish. You don’t have to validate yourself for anyone other than the very small number of people who matter.
Stop caring about what everyone thinks. Otherwise, you may end up having a mid-life crisis at 50, wondering how you got there. If everyone else’s opinions dictate every decision, you will be living a life you never wanted in the first place.
You need to discard any and all labels science or society attaches to you. One of the most liberating instances in my life was when I stopped thinking of myself as an “anxious” person. Accepting the “anxiety” label, or any other label for that matter places you in a debilitating position.
If you’re constantly stuck in the victim mindset, it’s going to be an uphill battle becoming a survivor.
Yes, medical diagnoses are labels as well. I’m not trying to degrade modern science here. Think of it this way. Does having an “anxious” label on you help you in any way? Does it improve the quality of your life? Does it help you recover any quicker?
In many cases, labels do the exact opposite. They convince you there is something specifically wrong with you, and many people just never come out of that. So, yes, defy any labels that are placed on you. Stop thinking of yourself as defined by one word and start working on solving your problems.
Yes, in a way you are fooling yourself by saying you’re not anxious. But dragging yourself through every new day without the added burden is how you will grow as a person.
Adopting these habits is the reason I’m confident enough to sit here describing my experiences. Once, just the thought of a simple phone conversation with my cable company’s Customer Care sent my anxiety through the roof.
Now, I’m a fully functional, healthy and social individual with a zest for life. And I owe it all to the habits mentioned above.
If you’re struggling with anxiety and reading this, I wish you all the best for your recovery.