Hey loves! The following article is written by Monica Pitek-Fugedi, the creator of MindGal. You can find information about Monica, and and where you can follow her, in the author notes at the end of this post.
If we let it, anxiety will fool us into believing that we are incapable of living a well-functioning life. It tells us a story of weakness, and makes us live in a world of “I can’t.”
This sounds horrible, right?
We all tell ourselves stories about who we are. When our story doesn’t match our reality, we often become anxious. For example, if we are constantly telling ourselves that we are not confident then we will always be looking for evidence to prove this argument.
What would happen if we changed the narrative? Below are four self-care techniques that you can implement today to lessen anxiety’s hold on your life.
We have all heard this term. Seems like it is all the rage right now. So much so that it might even sound like a fad. Rest assured, it is not a fad. Mindfulness has been practiced for centuries and acts as a grounding tool to keep your mind from living in the future.
The concept of mindfulness is easy to understand. Simply be in the moment. The practice is what can get challenging. If you suffer with anxiety, being in the moment is not something that you are used to.
Sometimes people get mindfulness confused with meditation. While they are in the same family, they are not the same thing. Meditation requires stillness and focused breathing. Mindfulness requires redirection of thought. Here’s a little tip to practicing mindfulness.
When your thoughts start to move toward a situation in the
past or future, remind yourself to come back to the present
I like to verbally tell myself to stop. Of course, I say this so that no one else can hear. Yelling “STOP” in a sea of people might evoke some unwanted stares.
By telling yourself to stop, you are sending a message to your brain that it needs to focus on something else. From there, you can remind yourself to think about what is happening right now.
Mindfulness takes practice. If you are like me, you have had a lifetime of living in the future, worrying about things that you cannot control, and working yourself up for events that are not scheduled to happen for a while.
Change Your Narrative
Your entire life, you have been living in a story that you have created. The main character is anxiety. Its nemesis is peace. The two are constantly in a battle with each other. Anxiety is a builder. It constructs massive buildings with steel entryways so that peace cannot break through.
It’s not a comfortable story, but it’s the story you know.
We live in the reality that we believe we deserve. It is time to stop telling yourself that you are an anxious person. Putting anxiety first gives it powers. The story is that you cannot be a person without your anxiety.
YOU ARE NOT AN ANXIOUS PERSON
Let’s flip the script. From now on, describe yourself as a person who lives with anxiety. You are not denying anxiety’s presence in your life, but you are recognizing that you are a person first.
Anxiety breeds on negative thoughts. Mindfulness can help you understand what they are. Changing your narrative can help you alter the story.
It is so important to know the messages that you are sending yourself because it is the only way that you can challenge them.
I can hear you through the computer, and I know what you are thinking. Patience is the opposite of who you are. Maybe you are patient with other people, but you expect yourself to live to a high standard. Right. Now.
After all, high standards that we are one of the ways that we keep anxiety alive.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, I did not develop a taste for bold red wine overnight, and you will not go from anxious to peaceful in a matter of minutes. But being a person who has control of your anxiety is worth the wait.
Be kind to yourself. You are changing your entire brain chemistry here. You have been wired to be anxious your entire life. Take baby steps and expect to fail.
I know, I said it. The four-letter word that triggers all sorts of stress: FAIL.
But it’s not so bad, really. Failure is a necessary part of success. Those who never fail are not learning. There will be days when you try mindfulness, but are just so locked into your thoughts that you cannot bring yourself back to the moment.
There will be days when you try to change your narrative, but you will feel so much like an imposter by telling yourself positive messages, that you will revert back to your traditional pattern of thought.
Just keep trying, because you know what? There will also be days when you nail it. You will stay in the moment and successfully change “can’t” messages to “can,” or “not yet” messages.
Embrace those days. Celebrate the small and large victories. You have earned them, which brings me to my fourth way of practicing self-care.
You are not used to rewarding yourself, are you? Feels fraudulent, like you don’t belong in a place of success. Well I have news for you. You belong here.
The great thing about reward is that it incites more action. I suggest that you set a reward for yourself with each milestone that you reach. For example
- Practiced mindfulness 3 times in a week = a trip to dairy queen
- Changed thoughts from fixed to growth mindset 4 times in a week = trip to the spa
The rewards can be whatever you would like, and you can change them as you go. The point is, take time to honor yourself. You are beautiful, and you deserve it.
Monica Pitek-Fugedi is the owner of www.mindgal.com, a website dedicated to helping people with anxiety, panic attacks, and overcoming obstacles so that we can live a life of purpose. Monica also hosts The MindGal Podcast, which aims to erase the stigma surrounding mental health.
Monica works as a High School Counselor in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. She has struggled with anxiety and social phobia throughout her life. Her passion is to help others understand that they are not alone, and to offer helpful resources. Monica presented at a TEDx event at her school, where she spoke about how cancer has changed her story.
You can subscribe to Monica’s website and check out her blog and TEDx talk at www.mindgal.com. You can follow Monica on social media.
Podcast: The MindGal Podcast