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  • Darren Parker

Understanding Anxiety

If you hate and want to get rid of your anxiety, you are in good company. People are often frustrated with anxiety getting in the way of meeting people (social anxiety), performing tasks well (performance anxiety and perfectionism), taking care of ourselves (health anxiety) and more. So why would I ask people to "befriend" anxiety?

For small amounts of anxiety, people often try to use other terms because the word "anxiety" is often so loaded with baggage. People will use terms like "stress" "worry" or "concern". But we can think about things on a scale that starts at zero concern, moves up to some concern, and tops out at extreme concern. And when we think about it, there are things in our lives that matter to us, and that deserves some concern. It wouldn't make sense to have no worries in our lives unless there was nothing that we cared about (and that is usually a symptom of depression).

Anxiety is uncomfortable, and there are a number of strategies people use to get rid of it. Some avoidance is fine and there isn't any point in putting undue stress on ourselves for no gain (you wouldn't go somewhere dangerous for no reason). But because anxiety so often comes up in regards to things that we care about, if we avoid those things then we start giving up huge parts of our lives, giving us short term relief paired with long term struggles.

Ignoring our anxiety doesn't make the concerns go away, and often putting things off will lead to more problems, not less. Without any resolution anxiety can linger and the discomfort gets worse. We start to feel anxiety about anxiety, and this can lead to panic attacks. Eventually our body can't sustain the stress and for some people this leads to a shutting down state and people can be affected by depression.

You aren't bad for having anxiety because you aren't bad for caring about things. When the things you are worried or concerned about start taking over your life and are too much to deal with on your own, it's a good idea to reach out for help.

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