#shorts | Dealing with anxiety

“Today, I escaped my anxiety, or rather, I discarded it, for it is within me.” — Marcus Aurelius

  • Worrying and overthinking help to deal with anxiety. Our minds want to prepare for every possible scenario and help us to build an action plan if and when things go wrong. The downside is that this only deals with the symptoms, not the root cause of our emotions.
  • We can’t deal with anxiety without awareness. Once we understand when our fears control us, we must ask ourselves the right questions — What do I feel? How are these feelings impacting me? Are they true? What I’m afraid of? Proper digging through our emotions to understand them.
  • Write it down. We can deal with the anxiety in our minds, but it won’t last. Asking questions and writing down the answers as they come to us make things tangible and reveal patterns we can review anytime in the future. That’s how progress is made.
  • Focus on one task at a time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by what we need or should do, which is often a source of anxiety. Getting jobs done one by one reduces our stress or at least keeps it at bay whilst we focus on solving them and moving in the right direction.
  • Be in a moment, be present. The “loss” mindset of what we don’t have takes over more often than we think. We live only one life, and being right here, right now, is the only chance to experience it. We cannot change the past or predict the future (the pandemic proved it quite brutally), and that’s what anxiety, worrying and overthinking are trying to do.
  • We cannot feel angry or anxious when our muscles are relaxed. Meditation can help bring our bodies to a state where we can think about the reactions that got us into the anxious state in the first place. A good alternative could be starting the day with a form of “reset” that will set the tone for the challenges ahead of us.
  • Take a break. Nature tremendously influences our brains, and we should enjoy it regularly. So go out for a walk, make it a habit. Use it as an opportunity to enjoy the moment and connect with your emotions deeply.
  • We don’t need to have an opinion about everything. Sometimes we can just accept things as they are, as objectively as possible. Some things are not worth fighting for and should be discarded.
  • Stop caring about what others think. We often pay too much attention to what people think, the same people who actually usually don’t care about us at all. It’s a great feeling when we can truly live up to our expectations… Have you ever thought, “I would love to dance in the rain on the street in front of my house”, and being stopped by “neighbours will think I’m a freak”?
  • We suffer more in imagination than reality. Too often we write scenarios in our heads, and 99% of them never happen. Isn’t that insanity, or at least masochism in the purest form?
  • Harm is a choice, according to stoics. No one can harm us by saying something that we don’t like. People get offended too easy and consider opinions as a personal attacks. They choose to be harmed, fueling their anxiety and expectation that everybody in this world is on a mission to bring them suffering.
  • Start with the “Hmmmmmm…” when you hear something you don’t like. ‘Hmmmmm…’ helps to stay open to experience and analyse what is happening. An excellent way to kick start curiosity instead of defaulting to emotional reaction and fear.
  • Whether we choose to see a racing heart and sweaty palms as a sign of excitement or anxiety, it will have a massive impact on our success. Framing our reactions correctly teaches us to respond better without conscious interventions.

Anxiety is a fear waiting to attach itself to something, eating and harming us from the inside and, in extreme situations, controlling us to a level where we lose things we will never be able to get back. I’m dealing with my own fears. Awareness, writing, meditations, walks and unpredictability of life help me to rewire my default responses into curiosity and excitement. Ultimately, we need all our emotions to function as human beings and enjoy our lives to the fullest.

“You cannot let fear become a thief. It will steal so many precious things and rob you of so many incredible moments.” — Susan Cain

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Andrew Winnicki

Andrew Winnicki

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Software Engineering Changemaker. Driving digital transformation and sharing experiences and thoughts from my journey. 20 years and counting…