When I treat anxiety in others, and when I encounter it in myself, I find that anxiety is always rooted in a sense of helplessness. It’s as if our unconscious believes that we truly have no power, that we are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t, and that we are powerless to affect change. Our prefrontal cortex responsible for logic and reasoning, knows this powerless thinking spiral is not completely true and accurate, but the primitive brain is so busy reacting to anxiety provoking stimulus, the logical part of the brain is overridden. The times we feel most powerless, are the times we feel most anxious.
Figuring out how to make yourself feel stronger, more in control, and more powerful is key. But how?
How to Treat Anxiety
Anxiety is rarely a problem that exists all by itself. Anxiety exists in environments where it can grow. Chronic stress, toxic relationships, power imbalances, and poverty are all things that cultivate anxiety and make it grow. There are common ways to treat anxiety like therapy, meditation, relaxation techniques, exercise and cutting down on stimulants (caffeine.) Any and all of these things can be helpful, but I have found one thing that helps immensely.
Make Small Choices for Big Power
Taking back your power is the solution to the anxiety problem. When people find small ways to feel powerful again, they start to feel better.
Anxiety often is a result of feeling trapped in a box of “I can’ts”; feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place; feeling damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Anxiety’s root is powerlessness. To strike back at anxiety, taking small steps to gain back your power make all the difference.
- Brainstorm all the options you have, even the crazy ones.
- Make small choices on how you spend your time.
- Make small choices on how you will reframe or think about your current situation.
- Make small choices on how you respond to others’ dysfunction.
- Set small boundaries on time, duties, space you share with others.
- Set small boundaries on how much you allow yourself to think about bothersome worries.
- Own mistakes you’ve made and commit to making amends. Say yes to things you want to do, and no to things you don’t.
- Invite help.
- Invest in a trainer, a consultant, a coach, a counselor, a psychiatrist, an attorney, or an assistant.
- Off load emotional vampires, time-sucks, and the self-absorbed.
- Cut your losses on unlucky investments and one-sided relationships.
Taking back your life from the anxiety, isn’t done in one fell swoop. It is done by making one small decision after another, until you feel stronger, more confident and more positive. Psychologist measure remission and success by decreased frequency, duration, and severity of anxiety episodes. With each step toward empowerment and positivity you make, remission from anxiety becomes possible.