Anxiety is like a ghost.
If you suffer from anxiety disorder, you must be familiar with this feeling. You can’t see anxiety, but it’s there. It follows your day, from when you wake up, when you sit eating your meal, when you sit in the middle of meeting, until when you sleep at night.
For other people, you may look like you’re fine. But in fact, in the inside, you are in the middle of a battle with your own mind. It keeps trying to convince you that everything will go wrong and you will try to resist it with all your might.
You try to study, but your mind can’t keep still to concentrate.
You try to make friend, but you can’t enjoy the friendship because you keep worrying that you don’t fit in and one day these people will find out that and they will leave you.
You try to be a capable and completely in control individual, but your mind keep telling you that you won’t ever be one.
Because of this, failure happens.
You can’t study, you can’t get a healthy friendship or relationship, and you can’t perform well on your job. These failures will send you even deeper to your worry.
What’s wrong with you?
Why do you keep failing?
Why can’t you be normal?
You become even more worried over that. It led to more failure. This led to more anxiety, which lead to endless spiral of anxiety and failure. But thankfully, there is a way to pull you out from that spiral. It is the way of kindness.
If you’re suffering from anxiety disorder, you should understand that the first sensible thing to do is asking for help. But, I know that it’s not an easy thing to do.
Admitting to other people that you suffer from anxiety disorder makes you vulnerable. Also, why bother telling them? They won’t understand you. Not when you yourself don’t even understand what’s wrong with you, right?
Going to a professional and ask for help is worse. It feels like your anxiety is now an official problem in your life. It’s just one more proof that you’re not normal. Plus, when other people find out about this, they’ll really think that you are weak.
So, it’s easier to just shut yourself at home, hoping it will go away the next day. Some people will try to deal with their anxiety by drinking.
If you are averse or afraid to ask for help, you can try to reverse it. Instead of asking help from other people, give help to other people who suffer from the same problem. It’s easier, because you know what happened to them. You don’t want them to experience the same thing with you.
When you help them, you’ll tell them to not listen the “what ifs” in their mind. You’ll tell them that the worst will pass because you believe they are stronger and more capable then their negative thought.
And finally, when you give advice to others, you’ll realize how true those words actually are. You can’t tell people these things while you don’t believe them. So, when you help other people, you’ll also be more open to accept help from others too.
Imagine that your beloved one having the same problem
What if you don’t even know what to say to other people you want to help, or to yourself?
Imagine that he or she is someone you love. If your loved one is having an anxiety problem, what would you say?
If you know your loved one spend his or her day thinking about ‘what ifs’ and worrying about the worst possibility in the future, what would you do?
Here is what you can offer to them:
- Tell them that you are there for them
- Tell them you believe in them
- Tell them that you know it must be hard for them, and they are strong for going through that
- Tell them that it will pass
- Tell them that it is okay to feel like this
- Tell them to not give up, ever
And then remember that these words don’t apply only to your beloved one. These words also apply for you. You can’t expect your loved one to believe in them when you yourself don’t believe in them.
It will be hard to believe in them at first when the words are given to you. But, when it’s about your beloved one, you’ll see these words objectively and understand that they are true.
Listen to the kind words from other people, or from yourself
Now that you’re more open to help from other people, don’t be afraid to hear more. Remember that listening to other is also a form of kindness. When you’re suffering from anxiety disorder, you usually won’t like it when people try to check up on your condition.
But, because now you understand that receiving help is okay, you can try to slowly let other people into your life. When your parents, siblings, friends, or lover call you to ask how you are doing, listen to their words.
When they want to fuss over you, listen to them. Let them tell you that you can beat this anxiety together. Let them tell you that they love you no matter what.
And if they don’t call you or don’t fuss over you, then don’t worry. You still have one voice that is the most powerful among all: your own voice. Remember those words you say to someone to help them? Tell that to yourself.
Every day, tell yourself that what you’re going through is hard and difficult, but you will pass through it anyway. You won’t give up because you know you’re capable to go through this hardship. Stop asking yourself “why can’t you do it?” or “why can’t you be normal?”
Instead, learn to be kind to yourself. Praise yourself for another day you survive. Pat yourself on the back for every little accomplishment you make.
Get your kindness into action
You don’t have to limit your kindness to other people who have the same anxiety problem. In fact, you can act kind to anybody.
You don’t have to tell them reassurance for their anxiety, but you can do little thing like greeting every people you meet in your office with smile, saying thank you for bus drivers, or giving your neighbors homemade casserole.
In fact, a research by Jennifer Trew and Lynn Alden proved that simple act of kindness positively affect happiness and lessen anxiety, particularly social anxiety. But, the happier someone is, the less anxiety he or she will feel.
In their research, the participants were split into three groups: those who engage in act of kindness three times a week, those who engage in neutral social contact, and those who journal. Just as expected, the one with the most significant reduction in anxiety is the first group.
Do this every day as a reminder
Kindness is not a surgery you can take once to fix you for a lifetime. It is more like a drug, something you should consume every period of time or the effect won’t last.
Kindness is something you have to renew. Saying thank you once every six months to bus driver won’t be enough. Letting your family takes care of you once a year during Christmas won’t be either.
The good thing is, being kind is not that difficult and you can even make it into a habit. Start small, for example by saying thank you to your building’s receptionist every morning.
Then, every once in a while, give a surprise gift for your friend or family. If you want to get more involved, you can try to join a support group for another anxiety disorder patient and help them go through what you experience.
Anxiety can mess with your life. It can pull you to the deep spiral of anxiety and failure. Thankfully, there is a simple way to pull you out of that endless circle of anxiety – which is by practicing kindness, both for other people and for yourself.