Anxiety is a normal part of life. Anxiety is a human emotion that we feel when there is change, the unknown, or potential danger. However, when anxiety becomes prolonged and unaddressed, it can lead to panic attacks, avoidance, insomnia, poor self-esteem, depression, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, and a host of other negative symptoms.
What many people do not realize is that anxiety, like any other emotion, can be a tool for growth. Anxiety can show up in a variety of ways. Sometimes it comes in the form of physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, heavy perspiration, dry mouth, tense muscles, dizziness, and narrowed vision. It also shows up through negative thoughts, a feeling of overwhelm, and sense of being in danger. Although the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety can seem overwhelming, they are there to help you achieve something great, if you learn how to harness it.
Many of the world’s great athletes have learned to work through anxiety. David Goggins, in his story, Can’t Hurt Me, relates how he learned to face fear and anxiety, and came up with mental tricks to go from a childhood filled with high ACE scores to become a Navy Seal, win world records, and become a top ultra-marathoner, among his many accomplishments.
Those physical symptoms of anxiety are designed to help you do amazing and brave things in your life. A racing heart, difficulty breathing, sweat, adrenalin pumping through your body and making your muscles tense – those are all there to help you move forward past those dangers and challenges, so you can go up there and give that speech, run that race, confront those literal or figurative monsters, face your worst fears, etc. So the very thing that seems overwhelming to us when we face anxiety and panic attacks is actually the thing that can propel us forward when we learn to not be afraid of it, but take it on. Find ways to challenge your anxiety, accept it for what it is, and most importantly, find humor in it. Thank anxiety for giving you that motivation and that energy to do the difficult things in life and embrace it as you learn to live life more fully and welcome adventure, rather than avoid difficulties.
If you suffer from anxiety and want to learn more about how to not just overcome it, but use it to move forward in life, contact a counselor who specializes in anxiety. It’s amazing how far you can go when you don’t let anxiety hold you back any further.