Congratulations, you’ve been diagnosed with anxiety. Okay, sure it’s not good news, or is it? You’ve probably felt off your entire life. Maybe you heard, what I heard growing up, being referred to as a shy kid, nervous nelly or a worrier. My parents would force me into anxiety situations, hoping I would grow out of it. Surprise…it was anxiety all along. I learned the hard way, but let me walk you through some Anxiety Do’s and Don’ts to live by after your diagnosis.
Science has come a long way in understanding the brain and mental health. I’m not a doctor, but I am a person working my way through life while living with anxiety and depression; allow me to show you some things I’ve learned along the way. Check out our Anxiety Do’s and Don’ts below.
Do – See a Professional
Pssst, little secret, you have all the power now that you have been diagnosed. For once, you have the answers to the test in advance, the question is what are you going to do about it? Find a Therapist that specializes in your diagnosis. Check out how to find a therapist here.
If you live in a small town, like I did, and there aren’t a lot of doctor options, check to see if your insurance covers online therapy. The field is rapidly growing and is a great idea for those who are traveling or having trouble finding good help locally.
Do – Pay Attention to New Medication Side Effects
Pay attention to new medications or supplements you take. Unfortunately, medication can be trial and error. What works for anxious me, may not work for anxious you. Sometimes, it may take a while to calibrate and find the correct combination of medication and/or supplements.
Before you start a new med, check the side effects and speak with your doctor if you have any concerns.
If you experience any side effects, especially adverse effects on your mood, call your doctor and let them know.
Do – Open up to Close Family and Friends
After my diagnosis, I was scared and didn’t want to share. due to a lot of people being closed-minded about mental health. As I started to heal and learned to thrive with anxiety, I started working it into causal conversation
“Sorry, I have to head out, I have therapy in 20 minutes”. At first, people stared at me like I let out a huge secret, some looked embarrassed for me. But I kept mentioning it here and there, and then people started to ask me about it. The more I brought it up, the more normal it became.
Even more interesting, people began privately approaching me asking for recommendations, telling me about their trauma and how they think they need help, as well. Friends who knew about my trauma, where happy when my fog started to lift and supported my therapy choice. Sure, I still had haters but as I later learned, these are toxic relationships.
Surround yourself with people who want the best for you and watch how your life improves.
Do – Imagine Best Case Scenarios
Anxious people imagine worst case scenarios. Here are a few common negative thoughts:
- What if I’m Late for Work?…. I’ll get fired
- What if I don’t text back right away?….he won’t want to date me
- Can’t get a hold of your spouse…he must be mad with me, or maybe he’s cheating.
Let’s change that narrative. Try better scenarios to calm down your brain.
- I’m late due to an accident…my boss is probably stuck is this traffic too
- If I don’t text back right away…he’ll assume my life doesn’t revolve around him and that I have a fun life
- Can’t get a hold of my spouse…his phone probably died
During my early therapy days, I struggled with knowing the difference between intuition and anxious thoughts. I know its hard, but your therapist can help you rearrange the way your brain thinks.
Don’t – Give up on Therapy
Anxiety Do’s and Don’ts will help you find what works best for you and finding the right therapist can take time, don’t worry if you aren’t in love with your first therapist.
Learn how to find a therapist here, and if you need to know how to break up with your therapist check out this post. Definitely stick with it. Think of it as self-care maintenance. I go 2 – 4 times a month. After a trauma, I went more frequently.
It’s Important to keep going, don’t stop going because you feel good, it’s a trap. If you want to stay that way, keep going. It may be something you always have to do, or it may be something you only have to return to periodically, my point is don’t rule it out, therapy is there for you when you need it.
Don’t – Isolate Yourself
To be clear there’s a difference between introverted homebodies and isolation. Recharging is crucial to self-care; resting relaxing and regrouping is admirable but try not to go overboard and shut yourself off from society.
Remember your friends are invested in your well-being. When you feel that depression creeping in, fight fire with fire.
Depression tells your brain to crawl in bed, ignore your phone, friends, and family. Do the opposite, invite people over or go out.
Spending time with people will help curtail some of that anxiety and depression. It forces you to shower, get dressed and eat. And be honest with your friends, you’re feeling low and you’re trying to break out from under the dark cloud. This tricks your body into thinking you’re feeling better.
Don’t – Speculate What Others are thinking
Us in the Anxious Army (is that a thing? it should be) tend to let our minds go to dark places. This tip is easier said than done, but stop your mind from wondering. Instead, and this is important, realize what other people this about us is known of our busy, crazy right?
Personally, the older I get, the easier this becomes. If you are anything like me, your inner dialogue is a sarcastic little bitch and talks shit about everybody. But most people, especially people without mental health issues could care less about your clothes, makeup, and hair. We just think everyone is judging us because we are judging everyone else.
My advanced advice, lean in, embrace your awkwardness and own it. Once you’ve learned to let go of the person you think everyone wants you to be, it is really the moment you’ll feel free from mental health chains.
Don’t – Give Up
I won’t lie to you; you will have bad days and it will suck. The key to your mental health breakthroughs is to keep trying. But the more work you put into therapy and yourself, the better it gets. When you can’t help yourself, find a way to help others. Babysit, volunteer or donate your time. Help someone at work that’s struggling, teach someone something you’re good at, even if it’s teaching your parents how to update the cell phone apps. Sure, that seems silly, but finding a purpose is surprisingly healing.
The fact that you are here and reading this tells me you are off to a great start. But if you are feeling very low or need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with a rep here.
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