Using Your Anxiety to Do Good

Alright, I admit it. I'm an anxious person and it wasn't until recently that I accepted that. I took it as a negative thing at first, but then I realized I could use the feeling of being anxious to do good. I figured out how to use it as fuel and motivation to get things done rather than something that puts me down and keeps me from accomplishing my day-to-day goals.

I recently sat down and thought about where my anxiety roots from and how I can control it and use it to my advantage. Here's what I came up with:

1. Figure out what causes your anxiety.

Whether it's family drama, public speaking, social anxiety, school, work, or something else, you need to realize what makes you feel nervous and anxious. It helps to understand the situation, so you can react and respond in the best way. At times, I would feel anxious and have absolutely no idea why. When I actively wondered what happened through the week or day that might have triggered the anxiety, that's when I figured out the answer.

2. Respond or react to that problem or situation in a way that reduces your anxiety.

If your parents, husband, friends, or any other person is doing something to stress you out, have a calm discussion with them to get them to understand that a certain thing they said or did caused you feel anxious and stressed. This may or may not be so simple. This person might get frustrated, but you have to at least try to get them to understand, so they can possibly help you by changing the way they behave to make you feel more comfortable. It's important to let those close to us know if they're making us feel negatively, because we usually spend quite a bit of time with our loved ones. Not the easiest thing in the world to do, but you have to try.

If it's school, work, or social situations that make you feel nervous, it's important to tackle everything slowly. I used to be so overwhelmed with work during architecture school, but I was reminded by my husband many times to just take a deep breath and figure out what steps I needed to take to get through my work load. We make steps for huge life goals, but it's important to do that for our daily routines as well. Also, you have to write it down. Don't let it sit in your head to add to the clutter in your mind that's already causing you to stress out.

3. Use your anxiety to fuel and motivate yourself to do good for yourself.

One day my husband told me to stop focusing on pleasing everyone around me and just spend some time to think about what makes me happy and just do it. It was easier said than done, but once I followed that advice, I figured out how to use my anxiety for good. 

You need to balance the cause of your anxiety with an activity or two that allow you to get your mind off of things. It also helps to be organized. Schedule time to relax and actively try to be happy. Whether you use a pen and a planner or Google calendar to schedule your daily activities, it's important to schedule relaxation time. Many times we think we'll naturally let happiness fit into our busy schedules, but we end up ignoring the act of treating ourselves out and just having some down time. 

I started trying new things once I realized I needed to release some stress and distract myself from things that made me anxious. Here's what I started to do:

  • Took up biking on different trails around the city
  • Yoga classes
  • Go for a stroll around a nice forest preserve trail
  • Go out for dinner to try new food
  • Take a day trip to somewhere nearby during the weekend
  • Blog. Blog. Blog.

Being outdoors, whether it was for biking or just taking a stroll, honestly helps me relax so much. The trails around Chicago are so beautiful and just taking in fresh air while biking made me feel so refreshed afterward. You just have to do it to believe it. It's an awesome feeling.

My first time at Chicago's "Bike the Drive" event

My first time at Chicago's "Bike the Drive" event

4. Once you figure out what helps you relax, excel at it. Give it your all and don't make it a chore.

A part of me blogs to relieve stress. Writing and taking photos makes me relive happy moments and share them with others. It's an anxiety reducer for me, along with the list I shared above. I try not to make it a chore for myself. I don't think, "Hey, I'm doing this to relax right now, because I'm so stressed." I fall in love with what makes me feel good and make time for it during the week. My husband and I try our best to go biking during the weekend. I try to blog/write/take photos at least once a week. But I'm not perfect. I forget sometimes, but once I check my calendar and I'm reminded to work on something I truly enjoy doing, then I get back to it. I naturally feel less anxious and I automatically want to do my best at what I love doing.

5. Figure out what works for YOU.

I (possibly like you) used to read many blogs to learn more about what others do to reduce anxiety, but many times the same things didn't work for me. I would always take away one thing from any self-help book or blog post and that was to figure out what works best for ME. I recommend you do the same, but I hope my post helped you think with an open mind and realize that anxiety is not always a bad thing. It can also motivate you to find what makes you happy and put your heart into it, just as I realized how much I love activities like biking and blogging :)