The Ultimate Guide to Living (Well) With Anxiety, Part 10 – 3 Things to Remember When You Are Anxious


I can’t believe ten weeks has passed since we started this series.

Time flies! I also can’t believe how popular it’s been… these posts have kept my little blog very busy. I have received emails from some of you who are struggling with anxiety – thank you for writing, and keep trying new things until you win! Anxiety sucks, but you can win! And obviously it’s something we need to talk about, because there’s lots of us who have it.

I could write endlessly about hundreds of aspects of anxiety, and what I’ve found to be beneficial. But the series has gotta end eventually. There are some thoughts I have to leave with you, that didn’t fit in anywhere else, before we finish.
These are paramount thoughts, for me anyhow, even though they aren’t full gown enough to merit their own post. Sometimes I just want to yell these things at people who are suffering with anxiety and make them understand. (But that wouldn’t really benefit anyone, so I don’t.)

When you are Anxious, remember, Perception is NOT reality

Perception is NOT reality. I actually came across this twice this week, once in a blog post and once in a movie, where people stated that “perception is reality”. Yes, I get what they mean. When we believe something, we act accordingly. That’s a fact, and I’m not arguing with that. That fact is the problem, actually.

I’m a member of a local charity group, and right now we are working to raise money to buy dolls for dementia patients. The patients love the dolls, they believe they are real babies and it gives them something to do, a reason to live. They take care of the babies and it occupies their time. Which is absolutely fantastic, since dementia is something we can’t beat, I think finding any way to bring these people joy is awesome. But the fact that the patients believe the dolls are real does not make them real. Their perception is not reality. It is their perception. It feels real for them, but it is NOT real.

You have anxiety, not dementia. Anxiety is beat-able. Your brain is powerful enough to recognize that perception is not necessarily reality… especially in the case of anxiety.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is used very successfully to deal with the fact that we when believe something, we act accordingly. I think it’s totally worth while and you should consider it. I also think that it’s the long version of learning to understand that perception is not reality.

99% of the time (it’s actually probably more like 99.9% of the time) the things that I am afraid of are not happening. The things that are giving me anxiety are not threats. The anxiety I feel tells me there is some reason to fear right now, when there really isn’t. Sometimes it might be something as simple as a hormonal imbalance telling me to feel anxious. I am able to recognize, now, that just because I FEEL anxious, doesn’t mean that anything bad is going to happen. Anxious feelings can remain anxious feelings, they don’t need to become a panic attack.

I can’t necessarily “turn off” the anxious feelings, but they don’t bother me quite as much when I understand that they are JUST feelings.

When you are Anxious, remember, this too, shall pass

This too, shall pass. It’s the most cliché saying ever. Well, maybe not the most cliché, but it’s definitely up there, no? The thing that I have found that I can’t ignore though, is that THIS IS TRUE! No matter how bad the panic attack, or anxiety in the moment, it does pass.

It doesn’t feel like it will pass… sometimes during a panic attack you even feel like you might die (not being dramatic here…it actually feels like that and it’s ok to admit it!) But you won’t die. It will pass. You can think this during a panic attack, but I find it even more beneficial for the “dull ache” anxiety. (Maybe because it’s easier to think with “dull ache” anxiety than it is to think while you’re having a panic attack!)

I had an interesting experience recently. I was working on my laptop in the same room as my husband was watching the (newish) Sandra Bullock movie Gravity. (Woman trapped alone in space, likely to die in space, very tense sort of movie.) I wasn’t that invested in the movie, since I was working, and the movie wasn’t “scary” (it wasn’t the sort of thing that I would normally consider “feeding the fears”, which was why I stayed in the room).

I sort of watch it out of the corner of my eye, and when it was over, I couldn’t shake my anxious-for-no-reason feelings. I had literally “caught” the anxiety from the woman in the movie. Maybe because she was “trapped” in space – I’ve mentioned before, in this series, my anxiety to do with being “trapped” – or maybe because I am just particularly sensitive to anxious situations. But either way, there I was, all anxious and unhappy and it was time for bed.

In the past, I would have let my anxious feelings spiral into anxious thoughts and worked myself into a pile of panic. But this time, I chose to stay up for a little while, make a cup of tea and watch a funny show (one of my favorite ways to kill anxiety) with all the lights on. I told myself that “this too, shall pass”. And then I waited until it did.

When you are Anxious, remember that there is hope

There is HOPE! I used to feel like I would be trapped (see, there’s that word again for me) in my head with my anxiety forever. Maybe anxiety will always be a part of my life, but I’m not trapped with it the way I used to be. (Even as I write this, there is a little nagging thought that my anxiety could come raging back full force… but I am choosing not to dwell there.) I have found real, solid solutions. I DON’T live in constant crippling anxiety anymore, and I think you should have hope too!

But there is one tricky thing about this. You are responsible for you. You have to decide to make the changes in your life that can help to heal your anxiety. YOU have to look for the answers and do the work. YOU have to want to get better and then try to get better.

I used to think it was harsh and judgmental when people would get exasperated at me for not wanting to get help. (And this is still a huge “politically correct” cultural issue we have. YES, anxiety (and other mental illness) are real illness, and YES that makes it a grey area for how to deal with the people who have them… meaning maybe we shouldn’t judge them for “not getting help” or “giving up” but I don’t know about that anymore. I’m not afraid to take unpopular stances on popular topics and usually I won’t write about those things, because I also don’t think it’s necessary to upset the world at large. But this one is close to my heart and I feel like it needs to be said. So I’ll say it.

You are bigger than your anxiety (or depression), you alone are capable of making changes. No one else can make it go away, except you. Make changes, not excuses. Or you can choose to live in your anxiety. And don’t be surprised when people get tired of listening to you, tired of reaching out to you, tired of your anxiety. Don’t be surprised when the more you withdraw, the darker it gets in your world.

I know that it’s hard. (If there is ANYTHING I know, it’s that it’s hard.) But I also know that there is hope.

Read Part 1 of The Ultimate Guide to Living (Well) With Anxiety
Read Part 2 – Understanding Anxiety Disorders
Read Part 3 – Understanding Panic Attacks
Read Part 4 – Anxiety and Diet
Read Part 5 – Natural Supplements for Anxiety
Read Part 6 – What can Exercise do for Anxiety?
Read Part 7 – Do Not Feed The Fears
Read Part 8 – Talking About Anxiety
Read Part 9 – For the Christian With Anxiety
Read Part 10 – 3 Things to Remember When You Are Anxious


12 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Living (Well) With Anxiety, Part 10 – 3 Things to Remember When You Are Anxious”

  1. Words of wisdom from someone who gets it. Thank you for sharing your experiences. It truly helps others to know they are not alone in their struggle.

    • HI Theresa! Thank you for reading! Writing this series was difficult for me sometimes because some of these experiences are hard to share…but if I can help anyone know they aren’t alone – then it was totally worth it 🙂

  2. Living with anxiety is so exhausting! I constantly have to tell it to shut up. One thing that works for me is telling myself, “You don’t have to get upset at this. You are okay.” It usually works wonders with calming myself down.

    • Hey Meagan! Isn’t it funny how sometimes all we need is a little “talking to”… I think it’s fantastic that you can talk yourself out of anxiety, that must have taken years of practice! I know so many people who say that someone with anxiety doesn’t need to be told that the thing they’re stressing about is ridiculous, or that they don’t need to be upset, but I actually LOVE to hear that it’s ridiculous. I’m always like, “YES PLEASE remind me that I could be wrong”.

  3. My daughter is currently having an anxiety moment. We went to the counselor yesterday and she starts sessions next week. How do I help her? What are some things to say and to NOT say? I am at a loss, she is only 15.

    • Aw Chris I am SO sorry to hear that! I feel really bad for her, I had terrible anxiety as a teenager and life is already hard enough when you’re 15. Looking back I can see how hard it was for my parents too. It’s really difficult to say what will be the right things you can say that help HER specifically – over and over I read “people with anxiety don’t need to be told that their fears are irrational, it doesn’t help ect”. But for me it really DOES help to be told that the thing I’m afraid of isn’t really real or that I am making it into a bigger deal than it is, as long as the person isn’t making fun of me or making me feel small. If you can do it with compassion, then that is really awesome. As far as what not to say, I’d think really try to remember that she has NO control over her anxiety, so things like “just let it go” or “just don’t worry about it” are not helpful… and they will make her feel like you aren’t listening at all. If she tells you that a specific conversation / activity / influence is CREATING the anxiety – so for me that might be world news – then try to help protect her from those influences. If she is willing to talk to you about it, ASK her what you can say to her that might help. Or maybe she needs help distracting herself – going for a run together, watching a movie together ect. I needed my mom to let me sleep in her room with her, so I could GET some sleep. (Lack of sleep will only compound the problem). Make sure that you are as involved as you can be with the counselor and ask her how she feels about the specific counselor, and that therapy moves at a pace she is ok with. If you haven’t read the rest of the posts in this series, I strongly recommend it. My first experience controlling anxiety and with diet happened when I was 16 or 17, so these posts are absolutely not directed at adults only!

  4. It took me a week to read all. I started with 3Rd. But I read all in sequence…
    I don’t know about myself. Is it anxiety or something else. But for sure something is wrong.
    Anyways I don’t want to see the bad of me. Just Want to get rid to it. Few points I feel worth trying. Cut sugar and junk. Exercise… I can’t sit and meditate, as my head talk a lot. And its been three days me starting walk. Thanks for the motivation I never thought of walk though I do gym an year ago.

    I’m not able to find the exact words to express but only thing coming to my mind is THANKS.
    Many many thanks.
    Thanks and Regards

    • <3 I really hope that something in here helps you beat anxiety and live a life of freedom!!!

  5. Hi Carly,
    I’ve got a “relationship anxiety”
    Got divorced from a paedophile, pregnant with our 3rd child, about 16 years ago. No man will ever want a woman with 3 kids (I thought) except a crazy one… or another man who will hurt me or my children… So I’ve stayed single – searching for reasons why any relationship will not work out…
    Someday I’ve met someone – about 12 years ago – and another 3 years later we’ve met again… both can recall the first day we’ve seen each other… Life threw us close together… and also tried to rip us apart… although there were times we’ve got separated, our paths just leads us back together again
    We are spending pretty much time together.. I feel AT HOME with him… and he with me.. but he is chatting to other lady friends as well… It let me feel insecure although he invited me with him everywhere, spending his free time with me, not with them. I know I should have confidence in us, I’ve shared more with him than anyone else.. But, when we’re apart I am living with this anxiousness around my heart…

  6. I am just so grateful to have come across this series. I am heading into the situation that brings me the most anxiety and trying to prep. This was so helpful, thank you for not keeping your journey to yourself. It matters that we share, that is truly love

  7. I am so thankful. Your experience and advices have been so helpful for me. Thank you, thank you.


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