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20 Things People With Generalized Anxiety Disorder Wish You Could Understand

20 Things People With Generalized Anxiety Disorder Wish You Could Understand

General anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder that is categorized by persistent worrying. It differs from other anxiety disorders in that there is no specific cause of the anxiety, unlike social anxiety, for example. (Social anxiety is categorized by worry that impacts a person when they are in a social setting.)
People suffering from General Anxiety Disorder often experience symptoms that make daily activities difficult.

Here are a few things that people with General Anxiety Disorder want you to know so that you can better understand our struggle:

1. We can’t control when we get anxious

It’s a wave of worry that just overcomes us, sometimes when we least expect it. We try our best to push it down and continue to do what we are supposed to be doing, but sometimes it is too strong for us to control.

2. Forcing us into doing things doesn’t make the anxiety go away

When people force us into situations we feel anxious about, it actually makes the anxiety worse. When we feel anxious about a situation, we want to come to terms with our anxiety and make the decision to either go or back out. Being forced into a situation makes us feel trapped, which in turn makes us anxious and frustrated.

3. We feel really helpless when we start feeling anxious

Sometimes our anxiety shows up at the worst possible time. We may want to do certain things but our anxiety overtakes us and stops us from doing what we want to do. This leaves us feeling helpless. It also doesn’t help when people tell us that we should just go do what we want to do without letting things stop us, because it’s something that we can’t really control.

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4. We get anxious at the thought of being anxious

When we feel our anxiety coming along, that actually makes us more nervous. Anxiety has a way worsening at really inconvenient times. When we are in situations that require us to be at our best and our anxiety shows up, it actually makes us more anxious, which is not fun at all.

5. We can’t just push through it

There are times when we can push it down and try to focus our attention on other things. There are other times when it overcomes us and there is nothing we can do to stop it. When people tell us to push through, it makes us feel like it is our responsibility to try and overcome it when in reality we can’t always control our experience of the disorder.

6. We are often crippled by our anxiety

There are so many things we actually want to do and wish we could do, but we are stopped because of our anxiety. Contrary to what many people think, people with general anxiety disorder aren’t lazy. We are stopped from doing many things because our anxiety holds us back.

7. We are grateful when people try and accommodate our anxiety when making plans

When friends consider how we get anxious when making plans and they try to accommodate our anxiety, we really appreciate it. Friends who make sure there is a fixed plan and time, pick you up, and make sure you get home safe are the best.

8. We feel frustrated when we have to cancel plans

When our anxiety takes over and we have to back out of plans we have made, we feel really frustrated. We want you to understand that it’s not that we are flaky. We didn’t want to cancel, and doing so leaves us feeling very frustrated, and at times really depressed.

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9. We don’t like being asked if we wish we were normal

This is the worst thing you could possibly ask us. It makes us feel even more singled out and frustrated than we already do. When our anxiety is bad, and it holds us back we actually suffer a great deal. You asking us if we wished we were normal doesn’t help that at all.

10. We understand that our anxieties are irrational more often than not

We know when we worry about the things that we worry about, it often has no solid foundation. We know that sometimes it doesn’t make any sense. We appreciate it when you take the time to calm our anxieties down even when you know they are irrational.

11. When we feel anxious, our senses are heightened

When our anxiety starts, we feel things more intensely. Sounds are louder than they should be and we feel very hot. It makes it easier for us to calm down when we are in open spaces with fresh, cool air.

12. We often feel proud of ourselves for doing things

Things that may seem small and insignificant to you may be a big deal for us. When we do things like give presentations, or even get on a plane successfully, we feel really proud of ourselves. People don’t really understand how hard some of these things are for us. We feel happy when you acknowledge how hard it was and how we did do a big thing by carrying it out.

13. We can’t explain why our anxiety is triggered when we are in certain places

When you ask us why we feel this way or what happened to make us anxious, we can’t really give you a straight answer. When our anxiety comes, sometimes we have no idea what triggered it.

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14. Asking us to breathe and do calming exercises doesn’t work. So please stop.

Thank you for all your breathing techniques, but we have tried them all and they don’t work. Once the anxiety has started the breathing techniques don’t really help much. We prefer leaving the situation and going somewhere with fresh air. The thing that helps the most is going somewhere we feel comfortable to help us calm down.

15. Sometimes we just wake up with anxiety and there’s nothing we can do about it

There are times when we wake up in the morning feeling anxious and we know that we’ll be feeling that way the whole day. We like to lay low and do minimally stimulating things on days like this to lower the effects of the anxiety.

16. Caffeine is our worst enemy

Caffeine is the devil, in terms of making us feel even more jittery. However, this doesn’t stop many of us from drinking it, as we may need it to carry out daily activities. So, we  often have to deal with the nasty side effects of caffeine on our anxiety.

17. We are plagued by terrible thoughts when we leave our comfort zone

When we leave our comfort zone, we constantly worry about things like if we left the stove on, or if we forgot to lock the front door. It’s something we struggle with daily and most of us have come up with ways of trying to rid ourselves of these thoughts.

18. It doesn’t help us when you talk down to us

Don’t treat us like we are children. Just because we feel anxious doesn’t mean our brains have melted. We understand what you are saying, we just need time to calm down.

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19. We really don’t appreciate it when you tell us it’s all in our heads

Trust me, the feeling is very real and very strong. It’s a feeling we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy, so saying that it’s all in our heads ultimately isn’t useful at all.

20. We really do appreciate it when you understand it’s something we can’t control

When people understand that our anxiety is something completely out of our control, it actually makes it a lot easier for us. It takes away the worry that you won’t like us anymore, and the worry of having have to explain to someone what is going on. It also reduces our anxiety a great deal to have someone who understands what we are going through in our presence.

Featured photo credit: mamnaimie piotr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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