Ah, anxiety. That nagging parasite that keeps getting between you and your peace of mind. It may start out manageable at first – you can fight off the stress that comes with it for a while. But then it starts to bother you more and more, and the more attention you pay to it, the worse it seems to get. Before long, it’s all you can think about, and if it’s really bad, it can grow into an anxiety disorder and eat into your quality of life. Therefore, it’s really important to head this issue off at the pass before it can get any stronger. So below, I’m going to discuss some methods on how to get rid of anxiety and anxiety disorders once and for all – methods that have worked for me.
Specifically, the cause of anxiety disorders can be a combination of environment and also genetics. If a person faces a stressful situation that is more intense than their ability to cope, anxiety may start to set in. This may be temporary, and the person may be able to fight it off. However, if this stress is persistently stronger than he or she can handle, then over time, an anxiety disorder may begin to develop. Anxiety can also be related to a person’s collection of life experiences that has shaped his or her self-esteem and/or coping mechanisms. The genetic factor plays a role as well, in that some people may have a natural propensity to certain mental traits – sensitivity or worry, as examples. These people may be more susceptible to anxiety disorders than those people who do not have that natural propensity. This is obviously not a hard and fast rule – the most sensitive person may never develop an anxiety disorder, whereas the strong, silent person may. Therefore, any recipe of nature and nurture can cause it.
Anxiety disorders include Agoraphobia, Social Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), just to name a few. All of these disorders are characterized by an acute fear of some thing (or situation) – a fear that the sufferers intellectually know is irrational, and yet he or she cannot face it without significant discomfort.
So how to get rid of anxiety?
Well, it’s not easy. This won’t be a quick-fix solution, but rather a systematic mini-program to help you get rid of anxiety once and for all. I promise you – if you stick to it, your symptoms will either diminish considerably, or be gone forever. Ready?
1. Meditate for at least 21 days.
Think of this as your off-season training. Meditation will help get your mind strong enough to be able to handle the following steps.
To meditate, find a quiet spot without distractions. Sit or lie down, whichever you prefer, and close your eyes. Take a deep breath. When you’re relaxed, draw your attention inward to your stomach. Thoughts and emotions will invariably pop up, so once they do, just observe them, but don’t engage them. Let go, and let them be. Feel the emotion as energy in your body (try not to interact with it mentally), and then refocus your attention. For example, if you feel fear, accept that you feel fear, and let it flow through your body. Your body may tingle – this is just the beginning of you becoming comfortable with your fears. This will help you a ton going forward.
Ideally, you’ll want to do this twice a day for 15 minutes apiece – once right after you wake up in the morning, and once right before you go to sleep. If you can’t afford twice a day, then go for once a day. It’s really important to get into this habit. Over time, it will make you more alert and enable you to think more clearly. But most importantly, it will weaken the intensity of your anxiety so that you can overcome it yourself.
Stick with this routine for at least three weeks straight. After that, you can continue with the same routine, or reduce the meditation sessions to once a day or even three to four times a week. But given the benefits you’ll see, I think you’ll want to keep going.
2. Try the following exercise for at least 21 days.
To supercharge your meditation effects, add this exercise into the mix. This is a yoga exercise designed to increase your alertness and acts synergistically with your meditation practice in order to strengthen your mind. Here we go:
a. Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. Use your right forefinger and thumb to press your left earlobe, and use your left forefinger and thumb to press your right earlobe. This is the ready position.
b. Now slowly crouch down to a squatting position as you inhale. Come back up as you exhale.
c. Repeat this 10 times.
In case you were wondering, the earlobe is an acupressure point used to promote emotional well-being.
And so to recap, these two exercises constitute the preparatory training for your combat against anxiety.
After 21 days, you should be stronger mentally. The anxiety issues will still be there, but you should notice that they are not as intense as they were before. So with the anxiety weakened, this is the perfect time to attack it directly and beat it away for good. Let’s proceed.
3. Make an inventory of the things that cause you anxiety.
For example, if you’re suffering from OCD, make a list of the things that you have difficulty with. This can include checking things, counting, etc. If it’s GAD, write down all the triggers that make you anxious.
Rate them on a scale of 1-10 in terms of intensity.
Next, make a note of those triggers that cause you the least anxiety (that rate 3 or below, for example). For a sufferer of OCD, perhaps needing to arrange things generates an intensity rating of 3, whereas checking the locks generates an intensity rating of 5.
4. Face your least intense anxiety trigger.
For the OCD sufferer, if it is arranging things in a certain way, you should alter the arrangement and try to leave it like that for an hour. If you have difficulty, tell yourself that you will arrange it back in 10 minutes. Feel and acknowledge the anxiety in your body and embrace it, as with the meditation exercise. You’ll find that the urge has diminished. Try to work up to a day. Then try to work up to a week. If you can make it one week without rearranging, you will be free of this anxiety trigger forever. It’s hard, but you have to fight.
This exercise is similar for the other types of anxiety. If you’re suffering from GAD, take something less intense from your list from step 3 and face it. If you’re worried about making a mistake at work, accept that you may do just that. Imagine what will happen. Run through the scenarios in your head. Feel and accept the fear and let it flow through you without fighting it, as with the meditation exercise above. Do this every time it comes up. After a week, you will be over that particular fear.
5. Make your way up the list.
After you’ve beaten one of the lower-level anxiety triggers, engage the next one up on the list. Repeat the method discussed above. That is, approach whatever it is that generates anxiety in you and embrace it. Embrace and accept the fear that comes with it. For example, if you have social anxiety, start slowly by trying to make eye contact with people and smiling at them as they pass by. Accept and embrace your fear. Once you’ve mastered that, say hi. And then you can try to work up to striking up a conversation. It’s just a matter of continuing to challenge yourself.
A pitfall with some people’s attempts to remedy anxiety is that it isn’t systematic. Some people try to get over their very complex anxieties all at once, and without a plan, which is impossible to do. On the other hand, the exercises above break everything down to manageable chunks – one issue at a time so you aren’t overwhelmed.
Please give this approach a try. It worked wonders for me, and I think it will help you too! And don’t worry if some days are better than others. We’re only human. The key is to persevere and keep moving forward. That’s how to get rid of anxiety!