How to Overcome Anxiety

“We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” — Seneca

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Photo by Naomi August on Unsplash

For most of my life, I spent my days believing that I wasn’t good enough. And if you’re reading this article, I can bet you’ve felt the same.

You want to look forward to the future. But your thoughts are consumed by fear and anxiety over every situation that could possibly go wrong.

You want to gain mental clarity. However, the inescapable questioning of your self-worth continually lingers in your mind.

Within moments of these feelings emerging from your subconscious, your anxiety heightens to a level that feels uncontrollable. You know, being unable to think, sleep, or do anything without a paralyzing fear of the unknown forever haunting your thoughts.

Seneca, a stoic Roman philosopher, once wrote about how to create happiness in your relationships. The concept of not focusing on the past or future is difficult to practice, but is absolutely life-changing once implemented. He writes:

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence on the future.”

But how do you do that?

Listen, it’s not going to be easy. But if you are willing to try the following steps, your chances of defeating anxiety will be much higher.

Below is a three-step process of actions that can be implemented right now to reduce your anxiety. They changed my life. I hope they do the same for you.

  1. Concentrate on your breathing. Every time you find yourself panicking, focus on using breathing techniques to remain calm. One that I’ve found extremely useful is to breathe in for 6 seconds, hold for six seconds, and then breathe out slowly. When you do that, you’ll feel your body become more relaxed.
  2. Stand up with your shoulders back. If you’re feeling anxious, it’s probable that you’re slumped in your chair or curled up in a ball. These positions do not exert confidence. So stop whatever you’re doing, and stand up straight with your shoulders back. Whenever I’m feeling anxious, making a conscious effort to look confident is always a positive step towards overcoming anxiety.
  3. Direct your attention to the world around you. What can you see? What can you feel? What sounds can you hear? Instead of worrying about the past or future, take a few moments to ground yourself in the present moment.

I’m going to leave you with a quote from Marcus Aurelius, who speaks so perfectly about reducing the effects of anxiety:

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

Don’t worry about the past nor the future. Just focus on the present moment. My friend, you have one life. Don’t let your thoughts stop you from living it.

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