Step Back and Let Go: How I Eased My Anxiety

Loosen the grip of worry and panic with new, better patterns of thought.
A Blessing and a Curse | posted by Jeff Emmerson
Anxiety and ADHD, Worried ADHD Man

Don't let anxiety do a number on your life, as it did on mine.

I've had anxiety for many years, and a panic attack changed my life, introducing me to the world of mental illness in 2010. Since then, I've experienced anxiety regularly. This is a common co-occurring condition with adults who have ADHD.

My anxiety has caused me to spend money on items I couldn't afford, to break relationships off on a whim when things got too "complicated," and to spend time in jail after threatening someone over the phone. Anxiety has done a number on my life, and I'm just starting to "let go" through new patterns of thinking and behaving. Some of my best advice for dealing with the grip that anxiety can have over us is:

Stay in the moment. Learning to regularly practice staying in the moment (the term commonly used is "mindfulness") is a tool and a way of life that we can regularly use, day or night. I was first introduced to mindfulness a year or so ago, and while it takes practice and regular commitment to get the most out of it, the great news is that you can take an emotional "step back" and choose to focus on nothing more than the moment whenever we feel stressed, anxious, or angry.

I learned to let go of my intense desire to "be successful" in life, according to society's norms. Once I stopped doing what I thought I "should" do, and started doing more of what I wanted to do, my world was calmer and more enjoyable. Success will naturally come when we do what we enjoy!

Learning to let go of the compulsive need for control over everything is a gift with benefits. I have searched out videos and books by authors like Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is well known for his teachings on mindfulness and getting more joy from life. They have helped. Every moment I've spent calming my mind has been an investment in myself, and in my future success.

Get active. Physical activity is very effective for helping us get out of an anxious state of mind. The key, I've found, is to figure out what form of activity works best for you. These days I force to myself to get outside and walk for a while when I am sitting alone wallowing in anxiety. The walk helps me blow off steam and calms my mind. I tell myself on my walk that as bad as things might be at the moment, there's no need to turn them into something worse by making a rash decision that might hurt me more. Find your favorite form of exercise, and get moving, when anxiety has you cornered.

You've done it before; you can do it again. This sounds simple, but think about it: Whatever you're going through, odds are, you've already made it through equally challenging moments. This might feel worse, like nothing you've ever experienced, but you will get through it, too.

After my suicide attempt in 2011, I saw the depths of despair and darkness. After getting the help I needed through counseling, learning about my ADHD, and choosing to share my story with the world, I realize that I can handle anything that comes my way. Sure, I might feel extremely anxious, or have a panic attack as I did recently, but with the support of people online and in the community (have the courage to reach out if you feel like you can't handle your worries on your own), I find my way back to the inspired, hopeful, and determined person I am.

Life will always throw you challenges, and some of them might hit you hard, but there isn't anything you can't get through with the right support and the ability to look for the lessons that hard times teach us. Life is too short to always live in "crisis mode."

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