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Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you accept your anxiety and even become friends with it. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.
Racing heart, chest tightening, thoughts swirling and whirling around way too quickly, and you’re sitting with all the feels… Hello, anxiety.
Anxiety is challenging to cope and live with. Though the response is meant to keep you safe, it often creates mountains of stress and worry. For some, it’s challenging to live their everyday lives, function effectively at work, or complete routine tasks like grocery shopping or errands.
Anxiety can cause a ton of chaos in someone’s life, and when it’s not managed effectively, it can cause even more than that!
But, what if I said that there are ways to befriend your anxiety and live peacefully with it rather than fighting it? If you can shift your perspective about it just a bit, you might be pleasantly surprised at the change you experience!
Lucky for you, I’m sharing seven ways anxiety can be your friend and how it can benefit you.
How does living with anxiety make you different?
Living with anxiety makes you different in several ways. Because of it, you’re likely more compassionate, empathetic, and motivated than the average person. You relate to people differently because of the internal struggle you face.
Living with anxiety can make you a more understanding and friendly person. You might find that people often open up and trust you, and you’re a leader in your workplace. This is due to your pal, anxiety, peeking around every life’s corner.
Anxiety makes you somewhat unique, which is not a bad thing. Because of it, there are several differences you’ll find between you and someone who doesn’t live with anxiety, and these can most definitely serve you as strengths in life.
How does this look in real life?
- You might be a well-loved boss in your workplace. Your employees feel supported and safe, and your good friend anxiety is to thank for it. You’ve answered all the what-ifs and have plan Bs and Cs to ensure workplace success. This makes you an excellent employee, employer, and leader.
- You eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and enjoy daily exercise. However, anxiety frequently floods your brain with health risks and obstacles you might face and keeps you on a healthy living path. Though it’s annoying at times, your friend anxiety is the driving force behind your fantastic healthy decisions.
- You have a family, and you’re concerned about finances. Anxiety is the friend that inspires you to start a side hustle and improve your financial literacy. Before you know it, you’re investing, saving, and learning to bring financial freedom and confidence into your children’s lives so they can reap the benefits. Anxiety is the motivator and driving force behind these changes; it’s not a negative thing at all. It’s the friend that continuously cheers you on instead.
How can you benefit from living with anxiety?
First, it’s important to note that if you’re living with anxiety, it must be managed so it doesn’t spiral out of control. Anxiety can’t be a great friend to you if it gets out of hand and creates uncomfortable effects.
Anxiety can create mental and physical reactions and cause many disruptions in a person’s life. It’s hard to imagine that there could be benefits for a person living with anxiety. But, there are. There are quite a few, actually.
Shifting your perspective from hating your anxiety to understanding and empathizing with it can be a real game changer. And that’s the purpose of this article today. You’ll find out how anxiety can be positive and help you rather than hinder you.
How do you befriend your anxiety?
Befriending your anxiety comes with acceptance, education, and awareness. However, before you can embrace the benefits of anxiety, you must understand and accept that you have it. This is a journey and most definitely not a race. Becoming friends with your anxiety begins with accepting and controlling it. Below are a few tangible steps you can take to befriend your anxiety.
You can feel it, right? It’s a part of you. Sometimes it might even feel like it’s all-consuming. Could you give it a name? This separates you from the anxiety and creates a persona all at once.
Then when you’re addressing the internal dialogue, you can assume the power by naming it, acknowledging it, thanking it, and letting it know you don’t require its help right now.
“Thank you, ______, for showing up right now. I know you are only attempting to protect me, but I am safe. You can take a break.”
Incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your life. Both of these tools can significantly impact living and coping with anxiety. They involve practicing being present, aware, and in the moment rather than overthinking the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness is bringing awareness to this moment and focusing on that.
A journaling practice can be transformational. Journaling allows your thoughts and feelings to exist outside of your head. There isn’t a right and wrong way to journal. Try simply writing about your feelings, day, goals, or anything else.
Once it becomes a habit, you’ll be able to recognize behavior patterns, potential anxiety triggers, red flags in your life, and more. Journaling is an excellent way to communicate with your anxiety and get more personal with it. It allows it a space to exist without judgment.
If you’re not living authentically, your friend anxiety is likely screaming at you pretty often. The fact is, plenty of us live the lives that our parents set out for us and not the lives we necessarily desire.
Anxiety is a warning system. It tells you that something requires your attention. Living out your life with authenticity can bring a sense of peace and purpose that you didn’t even know existed. Break away from the social norms, stop doing what’s expected, and find your passion and purpose.
Nobody likes to be ignored, and guess what? Your pal anxiety isn’t any different. In fact, ignoring it or fighting it can make you really angry or aggravate your triggers further. However, there is a lot of power in acknowledging that you’re aware of it and even thanking it for its purpose.
Remember, like a good companion, it’s only trying to keep you safe, well, and stable. When your anxiety is triggered, you may find it difficult to deal with, but there is a purpose for it, and there is power in acknowledging it.
7 ways anxiety can be your friend.
1. Anxiety acts like a built-in warning system.
Imagine your anxiety like your body’s alarm system. When it’s triggered, there is something that requires your attention. Anxiety heightens your body’s senses and can make you more aware. It can be helpful in many situations.
For example, if you’re walking in the dark, your anxiety will be on edge because of the many possible dangers. It will keep you vigilant and aware. In turn, it keeps you safe. Anxiety sometimes alerts us to problems before we are aware of any. This can share crucial information about relationships, careers, health, and more.
The built-in warning system, when used effectively, can help you so much. For example, if you feel uncomfortable around a specific person, that’s anxiety trying to tell you something. The goal is to quiet down the effects of it and listen to what it’s saying. Remember that as annoying as anxiety is, its sole purpose is to keep you safe.
While anxiety sometimes takes that to an extreme, it can be quieted and managed. Anxiety can bring awareness to various red flags in your life and motivate you to handle/deal with them. You’ll notice a change when you shift your focus from minimizing the effects of your anxiety to understanding and listening to what it’s trying to tell you.
2. Anxiety can increase motivation.
Your anxiety can set you apart from others and make you feel more motivated. Anxiety can make you, for example, study longer for an upcoming test or train harder for your next race. It can act as a motivator and improve performance. Someone without anxiety wouldn’t have this edge.
A person who uses anxiety as motivation will likely work harder, smarter, and longer than someone without. Anxiety can improve a person’s work performance, motivation for life, and much more. The important note is the fine line between anxiety being out of control and being in control. Out-of-control anxiety can cause a person to withdraw and lose interest in normal daily activities.
In contrast, anxiety under control can be a functional and vital internal friend, reminding you of your goals and efforts and inspiring you to keep at it. Picture your anxiety like a cheerleader in your life. It wants you to succeed and be safe and happy. It will continuously work until you reach that goal.
Anxiety makes you want to improve your performance. You just need to shift your perspective from anxiety crippling you to acting as your friend. It’s here to help and show you important things in your life.
3. Anxiety helps you to be better prepared.
Anxiety is the friend that never forgets anything. It remembers to bring the ketchup to the barbecue, the reusable bags to the grocery store, and to pay for hot lunch this month at school.
Anxiety as a friend helps you to be better prepared and able to handle anything. Many times anxiety will prompt a person to have a “plan B” in case plan A doesn’t work out. In more extreme cases, anxiety will help you prepare for plans C and D if plans A and B are not working out.
Either way, anxiety’s goal is to help you prepare and anticipate potential dangers. Being better prepared and more resilient will help you cope with life’s obstacles and make challenges much more manageable.
4. Anxiety improves self-awareness.
Anxiety is an ever-present friend. It’s always telling you something and prompting you to direct your energy to something. Anxiety can significantly improve self-awareness. Focusing on what anxiety is bringing to your attention rather than how to make it go away can bring a shift in your internal energy. It can help bring focus to how you’re feeling and what those sensations are, and it can prompt thoughts surrounding personal triggers.
5. Anxiety can improve self-confidence.
Anxiety is typically a friend that floods you with doubt and questions. The “what ifs” and need to plan can be challenging to handle and hard to understand. But, you can improve your confidence and internal dialogue when you shift your perspective from focusing on the negatives of anxiety to just understanding and listening to it.
For example, constant anxiety might prompt you to make a list, worrying that you’re going to forget something, and upon completing tasks, you cross them off and feel a sense of satisfaction.
6. Anxiety can make you want to be better.
Whether it’s in being a parent, sibling, or even just you, anxiety is the friend that drives you to be better.
For example, you might be anxious about wanting to be a great parent, wanting to be able to finish the next 5k race, or even about your health. Anxiety brings worry, fear, and uncertainty, but it can also bring the motivation to answer the questions, set up a plan, train harder, and ultimately lead you to be the best you possible.
7. Anxiety can help you avoid problems.
Anxiety is attempting to keep you safe, remember? It’s trying to bring awareness to specific problems or red flags. It often brings racing thoughts, wandering minds, and worries. Because of this, people with anxiety often avoid problems before they even arise.
As a result, you become a better-prepared person for life, bills, health-related things, and more. Because of anxiety, perhaps you always have a savings account that you regularly contribute to. Or, maybe anxiety has prompted you to make healthier decisions in life, resulting in overall improved health. Anxiety can help you plan, prepare for, and avoid obstacles.
Acceptance is key.
Before embracing anxiety as a welcome friend in your life, you must accept it. Anxiety can bring an enormous amount of uncomfortable side effects and symptoms, but it can also bring many benefits and positives to your life.
If you’re experiencing an unmanageable amount of anxiety, or the feeling never eases, it’s essential to connect with your healthcare provider. Help is available, and it is possible to get anxiety under control.
Once you’ve identified possible triggers, you can make changes, such as avoiding the trigger and learning to cope with it. Several tools exist that can help a person cope with anxiety, such as meditation, yoga, a healthy diet, journaling, and much more.
The most crucial factor is recognizing your pal anxiety and accepting that they’re there. Rather than trying to make it leave your life, embrace it, accept it, and listen to what it’s telling you. You might be surprised at your life’s red flags if you listen.
Luckily for you, we’ve got an article all about that: How To Accept Your Anxiety: 24 No Bullsh*t Tips!
Still not sure how to befriend your anxiety and allow it to help you more effectively?
We really recommend you speak to a therapist rather than a friend or family member. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can help you to accept your anxiety, handle it, and change your perspective on it.
A good place to get professional help is the website BetterHelp.com – here, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
Too many people try to fight against their anxiety, and while you can do things to get it under control, there’s a good chance you might have to live with it for the rest of your life. So, building a better relationship with it is vital. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way to achieve this.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
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