Anxiety is a pervasive experience that can leave us feeling overwhelmed, paralyzed, and disconnected from ourselves and others. However, as my favorite author Brené Brown reminds us, we have the power to transform our anxiety into resilience by cultivating a wholehearted approach to life.
Here are some strategies that can help us manage anxiety and live more fully:
Name it to tame it
According to Brené Brown, “Shame cannot survive being spoken.” The same applies to anxiety. When we identify and label our anxious thoughts and feelings, we take away their power to control us. Instead of avoiding or denying our anxiety, we can acknowledge it with kindness and curiosity. For example, we might say to ourselves, “I notice that I’m feeling anxious right now. That’s okay. It’s a normal response to stress.”
Anxiety often arises from a sense of inadequacy, self-doubt, or self-criticism. To counteract these negative beliefs, we can cultivate self-compassion. This means treating ourselves with the same kindness, care, and understanding that we would offer to a dear friend. We can remind ourselves that we are human, imperfect, and worthy of love and belonging. We can also practice self-soothing techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization.
Build a support network
Anxiety can feel isolating and lonely. However, we don’t have to face it alone. Brené Brown emphasizes the importance of belonging to a community of people who accept us for who we are and encourage us to be our best selves. This can include family, friends, colleagues, mentors, or support groups. By sharing our struggles and joys with others, we can cultivate a sense of connection, empathy, and meaning.
Engage in meaningful activities
Anxiety can make us feel stuck, apathetic, or disconnected from our passions. However, we can break free from this cycle by engaging in activities that bring us joy, purpose, and fulfillment. This might involve pursuing a hobby, volunteering, learning a new skill, or setting a meaningful goal. By focusing on what we can do rather than what we can’t do, we can build our confidence and sense of agency.
Seek professional help
Sometimes anxiety can become too overwhelming or persistent to manage on our own. In these cases, it’s important to seek professional help from a therapist, counselor, or medical provider. These professionals can offer evidence-based treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, or medication. They can also provide a safe, confidential space to explore our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors without judgment.
Overcoming anxiety requires a wholehearted approach that integrates self-awareness, self-compassion, connection, purpose, and professional support. By practicing these strategies, we can transform anxiety from a source of suffering into a source of strength and resilience. As Brené Brown reminds us, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” Let’s show up for ourselves and each other, and let our anxiety be a catalyst for growth and transformation.
If you are struggling with anxiety, and need professional help, please contact me, Dr. Christine Dickson, clinical psychologist. My practice focuses on mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy, which is an evidence-based treatment for anxiety disorders. Please reach out to me today through my website.