Applying the knowledge others have gained about GAD and health anxiety can lead you on the path to recovery. Apply these 6 steps consistently to overcome GAD and get back to what’s important in your life:
1. Complete Acceptance. For people that are struggling with GAD, learning to have complete acceptance of the fact that you have an anxiety disorder (and nothing more) as well as accepting the temporary discomforts that come with anxiety provoking experiences, can be highly therapeutic on its own. Having complete acceptance that you have an anxiety disorder and nothing more keeps a person in the present moment which is hugely important, rather then looking too far ahead. This can prevent thinking about, for example, the potential disease they could have, heart attack that is coming, or any other health or situation concern a person might have about the near future. A voice in the back of my head kept telling me that I was doomed, but in time I accepted that what I had was merely a reaction that was being fed by more fear.
2. Become Knowledgeable. It’s vitally important that once you have accepted that what you have is an anxiety and panic disorder, you start educating yourself on how panic attacks happen and what generalized anxiety disorder is. Knowledge is a powerful tool that will give you deeper understanding, and also provide you with many answers that will build your confidence about your condition. Since fear is the main culprit for so many people with anxiety disorders, much of the fear disappears as more knowledge is gained, and then applied.
3. Building on facts. An absolutely necessary tool that has worked for many people that have gone through and overcome their own anxiety disorders is building on the facts. Building on the facts means a full understanding that a panic attack has never hurt anyone or has contributed to lesser health in the future, building on the facts also means looking at your own past and building your self esteem and confidence from knowing that what you fear most has not come true and probably never will. It means replaying that mental image in your mind of how you let the storm of panic pass that time you thought you were doomed.
So much energy and attention is given to our fears, and we give it so much respect when in fact it’s all an illusion. Many recoverees in fact make small cards that they carry around with them to remind them of the facts of their past, the successes they had in the past after the storm of panic had passed, and facts about their worries that have in fact never came true. Build on your own facts and reap the rewards.
4. Taking action. Remember this quote because it has turned my life around and will turn yours around as well – “knowing is not enough, we must apply, willing is not enough we must do.” Taking action makes the result that we want possible, which is overcoming the anxiety disorder. Life can and will be the way you want it to again, and better, but as you already know, no one has achieved any goal that they’ve set out in life without taking action and applying their knowledge.
Through these steps you have tools that, if practiced perfectly and with persistence and patience, will in time bring your concerns and anxiety levels to a manageable level (that it was at one point in your life). Seeing even the smallest achievements from the action that you put in will build your confidence, lift your spirit and begin to bring you much needed peace. It also does something that you never thought it may do – it inspires others, which makes you an inspiration to anyone that knows what you’re currently going through.
Taking action is a leap out of your comfort zone though, so be prepared. It’s very easy get discouraged when you don’t see results in the first few days or weeks, and fall back into your comfortable fearing mindset, reverting back to lifestyle habits that aren’t contributing to your recovery. Be prepared to become comfortable being uncomfortable for the time being.
5. Accepting setbacks. It’s important to remember that each one of us recovers from anxiety disorders at their own speed. When you experience a setback, whether it’s recurring fearful thoughts, panic attacks or anything else, the mentality that you should have is that your anxiety is doing all it can to stand it’s ground because it is confused about this new mindset and action that you are taking.
For example, if I tried skateboarding at this point in my life, I would be absolutely awful at it, and it is at this point I can go in two different directions. I can either quit because I’m not achieving the desired result I’m looking for, or I can persevere and in time my newfound hobby of skateboarding will become easy, natural and effortless. Understand that two steps forward and one step back is still progress in the direction you want to go. Setbacks are normal and should be accepted before reconditioning your mind and lifestyle habits, and taking your life back. Many people I know who are still suffering from panic and anxiety do not understand that setbacks are practically guaranteed, and they become frustrated and lose all hope. Let go of the setback that happened and try and be more gentle on yourself, and let your recovery come in time – don’t force it.
6. Patience. This is the key ingredient that puts everything together. Impatience is the result of being dissatisfied or angry about slow progress, being overwhelmed by this new direction that you are taking and can make you feel like you’re losing the motivation to keep on the path of change. Move forward and let time pass, make patience a strength of yours no matter how many setbacks occur during your recovery from your anxiety disorder. In time you can become that fearless and free person that you once were, that social butterfly that you used to be, or can stop the health concerns you have once and for all.