How to Outsmart Your Anxiety
Yes, that’s right, there are many ways that you can learn to outsmart your anxiety! Imagine having a little more control over what feels like an uncontrollable situation.
Anxiety comes in many different forms, extremities, and everyone has suffered from anxiety at some point in their lives, or they may experience it every single day.
However you fall on the anxiety scale, one thing is certain, it sucks.
It can be debilitating at times and cause an incredible amount of loss in your life.
You lose out on new friendships or keeping up with the old ones. You lose out on trying new things and experiences. You may even lose the respect and trust of your loved ones, your employer, and worst of all yourself.
All of this sadness and loss just because anxiety has a strong hold over everything we do.
I myself suffer from anxiety and depression and know exactly what it feels like to wonder why everything feels so much harder to handle.
Going to a new restaurant may come easy to some, but not for me. Knowing something next week is going to make me uncomfortable ruins my day today.
Anxiety is a struggle, but there are some ways we can try to outsmart our anxiety to make our lives a little easier and much more enjoyable.
Are you ready to outsmart your anxiety? Try using some of these strategies today!
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01 | REALIZE IT WILL TAKE EFFORT
Outsmarting your anxiety starts with the realization that it will take an effort to do so. CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are manifested tools for people to use, to help change behavior they wish to change.
If you go to a phycologist, for example, they will give you these tools to use after your session had ended. Just going to a physiologist to discuss your anxiety will not alone make the changes you are seeking.
The changes you need will be the “homework” these phycologists give you to work out your problems once you leave their office.
So whether you’re trying to work on your anxiety on your own, or if you have sought the guidance of a counselor, support group, or a psychologist, you will end up with the same result. It will take some effort on your part for this to change.
So with that said, put in the work if you want your anxiety to really change in your life. If you’re looking for a quick fix, you will always be disappointed.
02 | NO ONE IS THINKING ABOUT YOU
This sounds harsh, but if you really think about it, for someone with anxiety, this idea might just set you free.
We often feel nervous in public or at work because we are under the illusion that everyone is thinking about you. In reality, people are thinking about themselves, always thinking that other people are thinking about them.
Weird cycle huh?
If people are thinking about you, they probably are not thinking about you for long, because their minds bring them back to themselves. How they are feeling, what they are worried about or excited about, etc.
So in actuality, you make a mistake at work you might be reprimanded for a moment, but after that, more than likely your bosses are on to the next thing to think about.
Or how about the grocery store for example. As you walk, and your shopping cart is squeaking you feel the entire store is looking at you, judging you, but in reality, they are all in their own minds.
We probably only give others a few seconds of our mental time to evaluate, judge, criticize, envy, but then we quickly bounce back to thinking about ourselves.
This is not necessarily a narcissist thing, this is just what it means to be human with a brain that dominates our thoughts.
So try to take comfort in this realization, that people really are not thinking about you as much as you think they do.
03 | LEARN HOW TO HANDLE FUTURE ANXIETY
This one is huge for learning how to outsmart your anxiety. When a future event is causing you anxiety today (guilty here!) there are two things you can do to help better control this uncontrollable feeling.
Make a list of what you can do today to get more prepared for the event to come. This could be googling drive times, figuring out where you will need to park, pre-picking out an outfit, confirming the information in advance, talking to someone else about the plan, etc.
Once you have completed everything on your to-do list about this future event that is causing you anxiety, write out the plan and read it every day in the morning to remind yourself that you have it figured out.
Here is a random example of a meeting that might be causing you anxiety and how you can prepare yourself in advance to reduce the anxiety you may feel all week about the details.
04 | UNDERSTAND WHERE YOUR ANXIETY COMES FROM
Have you ever wondered why you suffer from anxiety? Why your sister seems fearless, yet you say no to every opportunity that comes your way?
It is actually very interesting! Anxiety is connected to our fight or flight responses.
Back in the cavemen days we would see a bear and our brain would tell us… “probably shouldn’t fight the bear… why don’t you run… no seriously RUN!”
Luckily for us, we rarely have to deal with too many fight or flight situations anymore, but our instincts are still very much a part of us.
So much in fact that we misplace fight or flight in everyday normal situations, such as choosing which grocery store line to stand in or if we should say yes or no to an invitation to a concert.
Although choosing line A over line B, or saying yes to a concert with a friend will not kill us, our brains misinterpret our feelings into thinking these decisions can potentially be life or death, hence where our misplaced anxiety comes from.
Some of the best tools for anything is simply knowledge. Understanding that the anxiety you are feeling over something seemingly silly comes from your brain’s natural defense mechanism against life-threatening conditions.
Some people are affected more than others, that could explain why your sister seems adventurous, while you choose to stay at home.
You know that walking into Starbucks and ordering your drink will not kill you, but your instincts may not. So keep this in mind when your anxiety rears its head during safe circumstances and tell yourself over and over that what you are doing right now it safe, it will be over shortly, and the worst possible outcome will be nothing more than you walking out with a wrong drink order…
Knowledge is power, so use it.
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05 | EMBRACE YOUR EMBARRASSMENT
The core foundation of anxiety is the fact we could possibly feel embarrassment. You know the type I’m talking about, the about to throw up, the body is red hot, and you wish you could do anything to change what just happened type of embarrassment.
The funny thing about being embarrassed is how often we think that no one else feels it. That couldn’t be further from the truth!
Everyone has stumbled in their high heels in front of people, everyone has grabbed a grocery cart that was stuck in another, everyone has mistyped their important emails, and everyone has spoken and sounded…well stupid.
Being embarrassed simply sucks. Even the thought that you could maybe get embarrassed causes a lot of anxiety. The worst part is we start to put ourselves in a little box safe from the world and from potential embarrassment.
The only thing we are doing to ourselves is limiting our potential for growth, new opportunities, and future memories when we place ourselves in this box.
So to outsmart your anxiety you need to embrace embarrassment by practicing a few of these methods:
- Remind yourself everyone gets embarrassed. The Queen of England gets embarrassed, your favorite celebrity gets embarrassed, and your boss gets embarrassed.
- Laugh at yourself. Did you spill coffee in front of your co-workers, laugh about it! We are human, it’s funny, and all it takes is a little clean-up and the problem is solved.
- People will move on from the embarrassment and so should you. So what? A stranger saw you drop the contents of your purse accidentally at the checkout at Target? They will forget in about a minute and you should too!
- Stay true to you. So you didn’t finish school, you’re just renting a house instead of buying one, you can’t afford to go on a lavish vacation, you don’t feel that your pictures are good enough to post on social media. Whatever the reason for your embarrassment, you must stay true to you, your decisions, and your beliefs.
Re-directing how you handle and feel about embarrassment will slowly transform you from the bright red-faced person who wants to run and cry to the bright red-faced person who laughs and explodes with confidence.
06 | GET YOUR ENVIRONMENT ORGANIZED
I feel at this point I do not even need to pull data to prove how a cluttered environment has been linked to anxiety and depression.
When your home, purse, cars are a mess your life starts to feel like a mess. Everything is thrown around leaving you with daily struggles that fuel your anxiety.
Do you know how you feel instantly relaxed when you are at a hotel?
It is because it is clutter-free the second you walk in. It is simple, there is space to think, and you’re able to shut down the brain to simply be. Do you recognize how your feelings start to change as you destroy the hotel room with clothes thrown about, wet towels on the floor, and your toiletries spread all over the counter?
Just the simple change of adding clutter to your hotel room dramatically affects your environment and in so doing, your psyche.
Disorganization causes stress and anxiety. Then your stress and anxiety cause you to be disorganized.
It is a cycle that must be stopped and can be done easier than you think.
If your environment is filled with clutter do yourself a favor and declutter it!
07 | RESPOND TO THINGS QUICKER
This may actually be the easiest and best way to outsmart your anxiety. All you got to do, is respond to everything in your life quicker.
So what does that mean?
For example, your boss sends you an email to send them a report they need. Drop what you are doing and send it to them ASAP.
Or your tire-pressure light turns on in your car, instead of driving home, drive right to a local car shop to have them fill the tires.
What you are doing when you respond quickly to things that happen in your life, is you are eliminating time in between the task and the solution. That time in between is where your anxiety likes to fester and your to-do list starts to grow.
The longer we have to think about a problem we need to fix the harder it becomes to fix. We then start to over-analyze it, dissect it, and feel dread over its weight in our lives.
The longer we feel the weight, the harder it is to carry. Before you know your to-do list is now just a reminder of how hard it is for you to overcome your anxiety to accomplish what needs to be done.
I’m going to give you a very silly real-life example of mine. My husband and I finally tied the knot this year after being together for ten years! I never received an official copy of our marriage license. I put call the courthouse to verify on my to-do list for… seven months.
I would feel so much anxiety about calling I just couldn’t bring myself to do it! I felt the weight of this task every single day. When I finally got the courage to make the phone call… it took one minute to verify our marriage was on record. One minute! Seven months of anxiety and stress for one minute…
So next time something unexpected pops up into your life, take care of it as quickly as it came in so you can outsmart the anxiety you would have over it.
So let’s recap on some new tools you might be able to try to help you outsmart your anxiety!
1- Realize it will take some effort to help manage your anxiety and be willing to put in the work if you really want change.
2- Find comfort in knowing that people are not thinking about you as much as you think they do. They are just as concerned with their own similar thoughts.
3- Handle uncomfortable future plans and events by completing anything in advance that might help you take the anxiety and pressure about it off. Also, create a list of everything you need to know about those events for a reminder that you have it handled.
4- Remind yourself your natural fight or flight responses may be the culprit in causing your anxiety over small situations. Tell yourself that what your doing is safe and no dangerous outcome will happen.
5- Embrace getting embarrassed. It is a natural feeling everyone experiences, do not let it hold you back.
6- Declutter your environment. Excessive clutter can lead to ongoing depression and anxiety, take control of your home so you can take control of your mind.
7- Respond to new situations and tasks quickly. Do not give yourself too much time in between to turn the task into a to-do that you will have anxiety about later.