As we settle comfortably into 2020, rent costs across the U.S. continue to climb at a faster rate than our wages. Healthcare is a privatized system that’s becoming increasingly difficult to access, and the rise of the gig economy continues to take away the worker’s rights that our ancestors fought so hard for. Modern life is inherently stressful; thus, it’s no surprise that anxiety is the most common mental health issue in the nation, affecting some 40 million Americans.
Sometimes, anxiety is an underlying symptom of another condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or bipolar disorder. But it can also stand alone. No matter the root cause of your anxiety, it’s likely that the condition manifests in a number of debilitating ways, ultimately crushing your motivation as well as the ability to achieve your goals and turn your ambitions into reality.
For many of us, anxiety will never completely disappear, but we can learn to better manage our symptoms using a number of methods, from professional therapy to meditation and mindfulness. It’s important to remember that, as anxiety manifests differently depending on the person, treatment is also a highly individualized endeavor. Finally, keep in mind that managing anxiety can also involve turning the condition on its head, and using it as a method for fueling our motivation and goal-setting.
Anxiety as a Motivational Tool
Generally speaking, anxiety is primarily looked upon in a negative light, but those of us who struggle with anxiety may also find strength in the condition. In fact, a 2017 study found that, depending on how one responds to the condition, anxiety can actually serve as a motivational tool. So-called anxiety motivation tends to disrupt and/or counteract the “typical association between anxiety and negative outcomes,” according to researchers.
So if we harness our anxiety into a motivator rather than a paralyzing condition, it may become easier to achieve our goals. But it may be difficult to see the inherent good in your anxiety, especially when it leads to mental paralysis and the fear that disaster will strike at any moment. If that’s the case, you may consider bringing up the concept of anxiety motivation with your therapist or counselor.
Anxiety motivation may become a complementary therapy method that works for you, enhancing the benefit of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is typically used to treat anxiety. Other complementary and alternative therapy methods include meditation, aromatherapy, and yoga. These non-traditional, stress-reducing methods are practiced by individuals from all walks of life, even those who don’t deal with anxiety on a daily basis. Using complementary therapy, whether anxiety motivation techniques or another method, you may be able to calm and re-route the mental energy generated by an anxiety attack.
Creating a Peaceful, Low-Stress Space
Learning to channel your anxiety into a motivational tool may be dependent on your surrounding space. Those with anxiety have likely noticed the ways in which our environment can impact our stress levels. For example, do you feel overwhelmed by large groups of people, such as in crowded grocery stores on a Friday afternoon? Or perhaps waiting rooms full of unnatural overhead lights tend to amp up your anxiety?
In order to counteract the effects of unpleasant places in your day-to-day life, it’s important that you have some sort of sanctuary space in which to escape, even if only for a few minutes per day. Ideally, whether it’s your bedroom, patio, or home office, this place should be free of common stressors such as electronics, social media, and harsh lighting. Further, clutter has no place in your calm and tranquil room, where you can effectively escape from the world and replace anxiety with feelings of peace and relaxation.
But what happens when you feel an anxiety attack coming on yet you’re miles away from your sanctuary space? You should stock your mental arsenal with a variety of tools that can help you effectively fight your anxiety symptoms, whatever your location.
Reducing Stress in Every Situation
Yet if we work diligently to reduce the stressors in our lives, anxiety can rear its head in even the most unlikely situations. Sudden bouts of anxiety can develop into full-blown attacks, or simply overwhelm us to the point where we feel completely paralyzed. In these moments, practicing anxiety motivation techniques may seem impossible, or even ridiculous.
The good news is that you can keep mental paralysis at bay, no matter if you’re in the middle of a business luncheon or traveling on a full subway car. In order to reduce stress and manage anxiety, start with a calming breathing exercise. Even though you have no control over the outside world or other people’s behaviors, your breathing is one thing that’s within your command.
Your daily routine can also include anxiety management tools, cleverly disguised as simple lifestyle habits. For example, make sure to exercise regularly. You may be surprised to discover that your racing thoughts slow down as you work out your muscles and focus on your body rather than your mind. Note that it may take some trial-and-error before you find the best combination of anxiety management tools for your individual situation.
Anxiety looks different for every individual: It may appear as a whisper in the back of your mind, a nagging in the pit of your stomach, or an alarm blaring in your mind. Yet the condition is less dominating than it may initially appear: By using personalized stress management tools and complementary techniques, you may even be able to cultivate motivation and success from your anxiety to better achieve your goals.