It sure seems like fear and anxiety have ruled the day, hasn’t it?
These two have been the King and Queen of the past year and I for one am ready to break free from their oppressive rule.
Fear and anxiety breed hopelessness. At least it does for me.
Anxiety is like black mold – it springs up in soggy conditions. Spreads uncontrollably. And often times we don’t realize it’s there until it’s literally killing us.
Let’s fight back against all this fear and anxiety. Here’s how.
5 Strategies for Overcoming Fear and Anxiety in 2021
- DEFINE YOUR ANXIETY
Too many of us are living under this constant, low-grade anxiety — that’s ready to spike to “call the doctor” levels in a matter of moments.
How many times in a day are you anxious, yet you’re not exactly sure what you’re anxious about? It’s there. It’s real. You feel it. But you have no idea the source.
That’s why a really helpful exercise is to stop and define your anxiety. Figure out the source. Was it the headline you just read on your phone or email? Was it the fleeting thought of the phone call you need to make, but you’re avoiding? Was it the thought about your boss or boyfriend? Or is it just the overall “joyous” state of the world and all the fun stuff it throws at us every day?
Where did the anxiety come from? The first step to overcoming anxiety is working on defining what exactly it is.
2. CUT OFF ANXIETY SOURCES
Growing up, I was allergic to dairy. Like really allergic.
My throat would swell, my ears would feel like they were going to burst, and I felt like I had swallowed sand paper. It was terrible. This was before all these amazing non-dairy options were available, so as a kid this meant no ice cream. No cheese. No pizza. Basically, no fun.
There were a few times where I thought I was over my allergies or frankly, I just wanted that bite of chocolate ice cream at the birthday party so bad, that I would dive into dairy, head-first. But the pain that followed was never worth it.
I share this story because I feel many of us operate the same way with our sources of anxiety. We know the source of our anxiety, yet we keep taking big drinks from it throughout our day, even though we know it’s going to make us feel sick.
Take our iPhones and social media for example. All the headlines. All the updates. All the noise. It’s all this HUGE SOURCE OF ANXIETY for many of us. Yet, we keep taking another long drink. All day long. We keep making ourselves sick. Why?
In my new upcoming book 25 Lies Twentysomethings Need to Stop Believing, I call our unhealthy addiction to our smart phones our “Obsessive Connection Disorder”.
“We check the phone not as much for entertainment as for escape. A numbing of sorts. A distraction from the distraction of all the distractions. And, most times, we don’t choose to do it. We don’t even want to do it. We are compelled to do it….Like smoking another cigarette, we swear we will stop and get it under control. But just after this next one.” – 25 Lies Twentysomethings Need to Stop Believing
We must think long and hard about our addiction to our phones and what it’s doing to us. We must replace this constant need to escape into our phones, which only increases our anxiety rather than diminishes it. Hear me talk more in-depth about this on the brand new All Groan Up Podcast with the episode on Obsessive Connection Disorder.
3. DO SOMETHING
Sounds over-simplified, but really it works and it’s important.
I call it GET ACTION, stemming from former US President Theodore Roosevelt. The man accomplished more in his lifetime than 500 men combined. The motivation behind much of what he accomplished stemmed simply from him combating his depression and anxiety. He didn’t dwell too long on his anxiety, he got up and did things, which made him feel less anxious.
“Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action.” – Teddy Roosevelt
Instead of feeling those flutters of anxiety and fear, then escaping into your phone which only brings that flutter to a full-fledged pounding. Instead, GET ACTION. Read a book. Make a meal. Go on a walk. Play with your kids. Pray. Meditate. Work on that project that gives you energy. Focus on getting something done. GET ACTION.
My wife can attest that I’ve become the king of the outdoor yard GET ACTION home project. Maybe you’ve even seen me post pictures of a few of those projects on my Instagram? Like here, here, AND here. 🙂 (See, I wasn’t lying)
GET ACTION brings me life. Accomplishing something that you can see and touch is important for your soul.
4. MAKE A “WOW, I’M BLESSED” LIST
“Most folks are as happy as they have made up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln
How many times have you come up against something that you thought, “There’s no way I’m getting out of this.”
And then out of nowhere, the answer, the open door, the finances, the wisdom you needed arrives and everything works out better than you could’ve dreamed.
Your fears are typically worse than the thing you’re afraid of.
We’ve been blessed so many times, so why do we continually keep expecting the opposite?
Making a list of times or ways you’ve been blessed is a great way to keep perspective when times get tough again.
If you keep worrying that you’re in deep crap, that’s exactly how you’re going to feel.
5. DON’T BE AFRAID OF SILENCE
“Oh my, this is a noisy world.” —Mr. (Fred) Rogers
Many of us are afraid of silence. So we fill it with noise as fast as we can.
As I write in 25 Lies Twentysomethings Need to Stop Believing:
“Why are we surprised that we have a scarcity of clarity? How can we expect to have any peace in our lives when we constantly keep inviting all the angst of the world to our home that constantly shouts at us everything that is going wrong?” – 25 Lies
You see, most of the world doesn’t want you to have any silence. Because if you’re in silence, the world can’t sell you anything there.
No politician, business, advertisement, or sometimes even pastors and authors want you to have silence. Because then you will not be listening to their answers for all your problems.
When sometimes our BIGGEST problem is coming from those who keep shouting at us all the answers.
So right now, I encourage you to rest and be silent. There’s a peace and a knowing waiting there for you.
Let’s begin to work on these daily habits to invite peace into our homes instead of dread.
Love it! I have one to add to your list. I struggle with anxiety and have been going to counselling for it, and one very effective thing I found to help me with worry is to identify a worry-fueled thought once it comes, write it down (without really reflecting on it at all, just naming the thought for what it is), then closing my notebook and putting it away. This has helped me to keep the thought from gaining too much momentum and gaining strength. Then I move on to your point #2 about a “blessed” list. 🙂
Thanks Todd for this great addition. Yep I think we’ve got to dive into our anxiety to be able to find a way out.
Thanks for this awesome post Paul! =) was going through a worrying stage back in end of June and found that #2 &7 helped me to stop worrying! Shifting the focus from myself to others through the creation of my uni blog has set me back on track =) never underestimate the power of helping others I say!
Thanks Shirley! “never underestimate the power of helping others” — great line!
You’re welcome Paul!
Since I couldn’t find your email on your blog just wanted to send you my thanks!
Thanks for creating such a great 20something online support community! =) Whenever I feel like I need a perk/tired, I know I can head to your blog and find something to inspire me and make me laugh! Your witty and comedian personality makes all your posts totally relatable and a great read. 😉 It was actually thanks to Ruthie Dean’s post about your 101 Secrets for your twenties book that led me to Allgroanup!
Needless to say I was super excited to buy your book when it came out! Thanks so much for sharing your valuable insights, wisdom and advice in the perspective that you’ve been there too. Oh and thanks for having Danny Rubin be a guest writer recently! Thanks to you, I found the golden grail on how to improve on my job apps and career in general. So it’s safe to say between you, Ruthie Dean & Danny Rubin, I’ve got my entire 20’s set with all your valuable advice for life in general,relationships & faith and career! =)
Wow! Can’t thank you enough Shirley for these amazing words. And yes, Ruthie Dean and Danny Rubin are wonderful aren’t they?!
Pumped All Groan Up is giving you encouragement and I can’t wait to connect more and offer more and more and more.
You’re welcome! =) yep, all 3 are you are pretty awesome in your own unique way. Will be posting a post on my blog about yours soon!
Oh man, this is what I needed to read. Thank you.