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14 Things Only People Living With Anxiety Can Understand

14 Things Only People Living With Anxiety Can Understand

I get nervous about everything, sometimes I literally don’t know why I’m anxious; I just am and no one seems to understand that.  

The above quote has appeared so many places on the web that I could not determine its original source; it’s a testament to how many people suffer from an anxiety disorder and how they feel about it.

The NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) defines anxiety disorders:

Anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. These feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.

Estimates are that up to 40 million people in the US alone, from all demographics, experience some type of anxiety disorder. I am one of those people from the US and here are some of the things about living with an anxiety disorder that we would like people to understand:

It can be extremely debilitating.

Attacks can be very severe, causing problems ranging from physical illness to a need to get away and hide from everything. It interferes with normal functioning when at its worst.

It has many forms and levels. 

General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Phobias can all be grouped under this general heading of Anxiety. There are also varying levels of severity of the disorders that people can experience. For me, my General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is at a well-controlled level.

It is more than just worry. 

Worry is a normal human emotion that most people experience at times. An anxiety disorder goes beyond this once-in-a-while feeling to a long-term life-interfering problem.

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It can cause physical symptoms. 

Extreme attacks can cause shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, and other physical problems. For me, it is digestive system problems during bad attacks.

I can not just “get over it” or turn it off at will. 

It is not some bad habit I need to break, nor an addiction to be overcome. It is an actual medically diagnosed illness, often involving brain chemistry, that can be managed.

I tend to overthink.  

Situations, actions, words – from myself or others – can be over-analyzed to the point of mental paralysis. I have to apply coping skills that short-circuit the anxiety thought loop.

I tend to overprocess outside stimuli.  

Anxiety disorders can cause or aggravate problems with sensory input. For me, it is with sounds. I have always been sound-sensitive, but now hearing too much noise or certain noises can lead to serious agitation unless I leave the area or block out the sound.

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I can have attacks from a trigger situation. 

There are highs and lows with anxiety. My anxiety is well-controlled through my faith, counseling, and medication, but there are times when a situation, often socially related for me, can still trigger a mild anxiety spike.

I can have attacks for no reason at all. 

Because anxiety can be related to brain chemistry among other factors, there are times when all is going well, but I still feel an anxiety spike coming on. This is where medication – Zoloft works for me, but others need different medications for their body chemistry – most often comes into the picture, just as it would for a more classic physical disease.

I may seem antisocial at times due to an anxiety spike.

If I feel an anxiety attack coming on, I may excuse myself suddenly from a social situation. I do not dislike your company, but believe me, a full-blown attack is not a pretty thing.

I need ways to vent, cope, or otherwise deal with the anxiety.

This is where professional counseling really helps, but sometimes I need a friend to listen when I can not get to the counselor right away.  Friends who understand and calmly listen are a precious treasure indeed.

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I am afraid of overwhelming those friends.

I do have friends who listen, but I am often concerned that I may overwhelm them with my needs if I am going through a prolonged period of anxiety.

I have developed a deep empathy for those facing hidden problems. 

My special education teaching experience taught me empathy for students with not so obvious learning problems. My anxiety disorder has taught me empathy for those facing emotional struggles.

I have learned to appreciate the quietly pleasant times more.  

I do not need a party or a huge group of friends to have a good time – in fact, that might cause anxiety. I do appreciate the little pleasures in life more – like my cat purring by me, a day filled with sunshine, the songs of my faith, getting the right words on a page for my writing. Most of all, I appreciate those friends who care and support and listen and understand.

Featured photo credit: Haywire by porschlinn via flickr.com

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More by this author

Betsy Ruffin

consultant in writing, research, technology

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Last Updated on May 28, 2020

How to Overcome Boredom

How to Overcome Boredom

Have you ever been bored? Restless? Fidgety? In need of some inspiration?

I have a theory on boredom. I believe that the rate of boredom has increased alongside the pace of technology.

If you think about it, technology has provided us with mobile phones, laptops, Ipads, device after device – all to ultimately fix one problem: boredom.

What is Boredom?

We have become a global nation that feeds on entertainment. We associate ‘living’ with ‘doing’. People now do not know how to sit still, and we feel guilty when we are not doing anything. Today, inactivity has become the ultimate sin.

You might not realize it, but boredom stimulates a form of anxiety and stress. It evokes an emotional state that creates frustration and feeds procrastination.

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It’s a desire to be ‘doing something’ or to be ‘entertained’ – it’s a desire for sensory stimulation. What it boils down to is a lack of focus.

If you think about those times when you’re bored, it’s usually because you did not know what to do. So, indecision also plays a big part.

When we are focused on what’s important to us and what we want to achieve, it’s pretty hard to be bored. So, one answer to boredom is to become focused on what you want.

Sometimes It’s Good to Be Bored

If boredom is a desire for sensory stimulation – then what’s the opposite of that? To be content with no stimulation – in other words – to enjoy stillness.

Sometimes, it’s not boredom itself that causes the frustration but the resistance to doing nothing.

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Think about it. What would happen if you were to ‘let go’ of the desire to be entertained? You wouldn’t be bored anymore, and you will feel more relaxed!

In my experience, it’s often the most obvious, simplistic solutions that are the most powerful in life. So, when you’re bored, the easiest way to combat this is to enjoy it.

It may sound weird but think of ‘boredom’ as a form of ‘relaxation’. It’s a break from the constant stimulation that 21st-century living provides – constant TVs, mobile phones, radios, internet, emails, phone calls, etc.

Who knows, maybe ‘boredom’ is actually good for us?

Next time you’re ‘feeling bored’ instead of feeding the frustration by frantically looking for something to do, maybe you can sit back, relax, and savor the feeling of having nothing to do.

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In this article, I’ll share with you my 3-step strategy on how to overcome boredom.

3-Step Strategy to Overcome Boredom

1. Get Focused

Instead of chasing sensory stimulation at random, focus on what’s really important to you. Focusing on something important helps prevent boredom because it forces you to utilize your time productively.

You should ask yourself: what would make good use of your time? What could you be doing that would contribute to your major goals in life?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Spend some time in quiet contemplation considering what’s important to you.
  • Start that creative project you’ve been talking about for the last few weeks.
  • Brainstorm: think of some ideas for new innovative products or businesses.

2. Kill Procrastination

Boredom is useful in some ways because it gives you the energy and time to do things. It is only a problem if you let it. But if you use it to motivate yourself to be productive, then you can more easily overcome boredom.

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So, the next time you’re bored, why not put this good energy to use by ticking off those things that you have been meaning to get done but have been too busy to finish? This also presents a great time for you to clear your to-do list.

Here are some ideas:

  • Do some exercise.
  • Read a book.
  • Learn something new.
  • Call a friend.
  • Get creative (draw, paint, sculpt, create music, write).
  • Do a spring cleaning.
  • Wash the car.
  • Renovate the house.
  • Re-arrange the furniture.
  • Write your shopping list.
  • Water the plants.
  • Walk the dog.
  • Sort out your mail & email.
  • De-clutter (clear out that wardrobe).

3. Enjoy Boredom

If none of the above solutions work, then you can try a different approach. Don’t give in to boredom and instead choose to enjoy it. This doesn’t mean allowing yourself to waste your time being bored. Instead, think of it as your time to relax and re-energize, which will help you be more productive the next time you work.

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t need to be constantly doing things to be productive. In fact, research has shown that people are more productive when they take periods of rest to recharge.[1] Taking breaks once in a while helps boost your performance and can help make you feel more motivated.

So, take some time to relax. You never know, you might even like it.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to overcome boredom may be difficult at the beginning, but it can be easier if you make use of some techniques. You can start with my 3-step strategy on how to overcome boredom and work your way from there. So, ready your mind and make use of these tips, and you will be overcoming boredom in no time.

More Tips on Overcoming Boredom

Featured photo credit: Johnny Cohen via unsplash.com

Reference

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