“When you make a choice, you change the future”
Recovery from anxiety is not an exact science.
There is no simple cure or magic pill that you can take to get the results you want straightaway.
I write this blog because I want to help as many people as possible, but the truth is…..you have to help yourself.
You must understand, first and foremost, that the answer to recovery lies within your own mind.
Knowledge and understanding is key, but it’s going to take more than just reading my words for them to have an effect.
I write about my experiences with anxiety, what I have done to make myself feel better.
I do this to help you reduce the time, effort and frustrations you face on your journey to recovery, but it’s impossible for me to hold your hand every step of the way.
It is therefore sometimes better to take a step back, to reassess the bigger picture, in case there is somewhere obvious where you have been going wrong.
So today I want to talk about the 5 key areas which I have found work together to draw you up and away from anxiety.
I call them the 5 pillars of anxiety recovery, which when put in place using the more detailed advice in the other pages of this site, will help you to feel well again.
In this article we will be reviewing these 5 pillars, what they mean and why they are so important to get right.
Pillar 1 – Retraining your thinking
At the heart of anxiety lies your thinking.
The way your mind perceives yourself, the world and the events in your life.
Those with anxiety have allowed their thoughts to become harmful and toxic to their wellbeing.
If these thoughts are allowed to continue for long enough, then they can become all consuming and completely change the person you are.
It is therefore of the utmost importance that you learn to stop these thoughts by retraining your automatic way of thinking.
This will in turn alter your behaviour and help you break the negative cycle of anxiety.
It is known in the medical world as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and is nowadays available through many health professionals. That said, I found reading books on the subject to be most helpful.
The book I recommend in my useful resources sections is called The Feeling Good Handbook as it not only explains why you think the way you do, but also helps you untwist your thinking by having you perform exercises which help you master the skills required to retrain your thoughts.
Pillar 2 – Not caring about how you feel
This follows on from being able to retrain your thinking.
However, in this instance it is not so much about changing your thinking, but not reacting to your thoughts, feelings and sensations when they do occur, until eventually they stop occurring because you no longer care if they do or not.
Anxiety is perpetuated by your fear of it and learning to not care about how you feel removes the power it has over you.
Unlike with CBT, there is little help on how to do this, in fact, it is not something I’ve even heard spoken about by psychologists.
I expect (and I hate to be so cynical) it’s because there’s not much money to be made in telling someone to ‘do nothing’, which is exactly what this technique requires you to do.
It can however be done, but it takes time and practice to get right and although it is one of the most important aspects of recovery it is unfortunately one of the trickiest to do and can take time to show results.
I’ve found the best place to start learning this process is by stopping the continual checking of how you are feeling and if you are currently anxious or not.
For help on this, read my article on hypersensitivity to anxiety – stop checking how you feel.
Pillar 3 – Exposing yourself to the world and getting on with life
When you are showing your anxiety no care there is no better way to do this than to get out there and get on with life.
Shying away from things to try and cope with anxiety only reinforces the anxiety behaviour.
Anxiety often comes back to one simple thing, the feeling of being unable to cope.
By not doing something because you are worried how it will make you feel you are only reinforcing the belief that you are unable to cope.
Being able to do pillars 1 and 2 first, will help enable you to do this.
So you can say ‘fuck you’ to your anxiety, you’re going to go and do it anyway because you know you don’t want it to limit who you are.
Always remember, you must not try and fix the anxiety first and then get on with life, anxiety is removed when you get on with life despite it and show yourself it’s really not as important as you think it is.
If you need help on facing fearful situations then I suggest you read another one of my recommended books called Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway.
Pillar 4 – Diet and Exercise
These two go hand in hand because their purpose is to the same ends, to provide you with a healthy and correctly functioning body and brain.
When you feel fit and healthy you feel better mentally too.
The body and mind are closely interconnected and if you’re trying to recover from anxiety, feeling slow, sluggish, lethargic and devoid of energy will only make it that much harder.
Eating the right food and drink provides you with the right type and amount of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, which helps remove the stress of a poor diet negatively impacting your mind.
Exercise is not only a great way to reduce stress and forget about your worries but it also helps you sleep better and increases your motivation in other areas of your life, especially to continue eating well.
A varied and balanced diet, combined with a regular exercise regime can make a huge difference in how you feel.
Pillar 5 – Lifestyle changes
Finally we have the changes you make to your lifestyle.
Of all the the 5 pillars this is going to be the most specific to you as an individual.
These changes will either be:
a) things you currently do which cause you stress and negativity
b) things you should do more of for feelings of calm, wellbeing and enjoyment
Examples of stressful and negative habits may include:
- bad relationships
- unhealthy friendships
- spending too long on social media and comparing yourself to others
- poor money management
- drinking, smoking or drug use
- being antisocial and spending a lot of time alone
Examples of positive and helpful habits may include:
- spending quality time with good friends and family
- taking time off to relax and unwind
- getting good regular sleep
- being thankful for what you have
- enjoy the beauty of nature and the countryside
- doing things to help others
Whatever these changes are, only you can decide what they should be.
Even just a number of small changes done together and compounded over time can help make a difference in how you feel and how you view yourself.
This then only aids your anxiety recovery further.
This article has not been written to give you specific answers, but its aim is to show you that recovery from anxiety is constituted by a number of parts.
The 5 parts or ‘pillars’ I have spoken of here are what I feel have made the biggest difference in the way I feel, and I highly recommend you make sure you are incorporating each of these 5 areas into your life.
Together they make the difference, giving you the changes in your anxiety that you wish to see.
Although only high level, by understanding these 5 pillars and why they are so important, it will enable you to make the right choices each and every day.
If you realise that what you are currently doing does not include all of these pillars then take the time to work out which ones and why.
When you understand where you need to focus your attention, it makes it easier to do the things which will pull you in the right direction.
This will only make your recovery from anxiety simpler and quicker to do.
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