If you google “how to deal with anxiety”, what you’ll likely find is a long list of things you can do to get rid of (or reduce) anxiety. The authors of these articles might recommend that you exercise more, try yoga or meditation, pray, listen to music, make time for self-care or relaxation, or see a therapist.
There is nothing wrong with any of these things. I encourage you to do whatever you find useful.
That being said, it’s interesting how we’re so quick to want to do something about anxiety. The underlying assumption here is that anxiety is a problem and we need to get rid of it as quickly as possible.
Ironically, when we resist anxiety and push it away, it only grows stronger.
When you see anxiety as a problem and you want to get rid of it as quickly as possible, you are beginning to fear your anxiety.
The more uncomfortable we are being uncomfortable, the more we begin to experience anxiety about anxiety.
Oddly enough, that doesn’t make your anxiety go away. Shocking, right?
Instead, you’re adding another layer of anxiety on top of your existing anxiety.
I believe that the number #1 tip we should offer to people who are struggling with anxiety is this: allow your anxiety to be there. I’m not saying that you can’t see a therapist or start a meditation practice. Again, those things are great.
But the next time you start feeling anxious, instead of trying to get rid of it immediately, I want you to try just sitting with it and allowing it to be there.
Notice how it feels in your body. Notice that it’s uncomfortable but not harmful. Observe that it’s okay to be uncomfortable. Part of life involves being uncomfortable. Life is that way by design. It’s not a problem.
Anxiety is not a weakness, a character flaw, or a spiritual failing. It is simply a sign of being a human being with a human brain.
The more you simply allow your anxiety to be there without pushing it away or trying to get rid of it, the more at peace you will feel.
Allowing anxiety is the key to transforming your relationship with anxiety.
That doesn’t mean that you’ll never feel anxious again.
But when you do feel anxiety again, it won’t be that big of a deal. You can simply notice, observe it without judgment, and breathe.
Eventually it will float away, as all emotions do.