Managing Anxiety and Worry

I wish I had all of the time back that I have spent worrying about things that never happened.

I have been afflicted with anxiety my entire life. I have spent endless hours worrying. Anxiety can be debilitating and exhausting. It can manifest in both emotional and physical symptoms. People experience anxiety in a number of ways, including:

  • Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • Upset or churning stomach
  • Problems sleeping
  • Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations or heart racing
  • Not being able to be still and calm
  • Dry mouth

Why Do We Worry?

Anxiety is about being afraid of what may happen. Not what is going to happen but what MAY happen. This is the fear of the unknown. We have two choices: We can give in to anxiety and allow it to rule us or we can find ways to combat it and quiet the fearful voices in our heads.

Giving in to anxiety can lead to negative and self-destructive behaviors, including substance abuse, lack of motivation, and the inability to create and maintain deep relationships. Allowing anxiety and fear to rule us means that we refuse to face what scares us. If we don’t deal with our anxiety we are ruled by it.

What Do I Do to Combat My Anxiety?

  1. Social Proof: The past is the best predictor of the future. I can look back over my life and know that things worked out. Fear and anxiety I have felt in the past has usually been for naught. The things I have worried about haven’t concluded in the ways my fears told me they would. Thus I can do a better job at listening to my inner voice when it says that social proof says that everything will work out.
  2. Therapy: I understand that therapy isn’t for everyone. However, if we need someone to talk to in a professional and private setting, therapy can be a great way to acquire tools to combat anxiety and fear.
  3. Deep Friendships: Friends that we have deep trust in and who have our best interests at heart are hard to find. However if we are fortunate enough to build these friendships they are an excellent source in expressing ourselves and relieving some of the pain we feel. Leaning on close friends can be a valuable remedy for anxiety and worry. We must remember to be transparent and vulnerable.
  4. Hobby/Obsession: A hobby we are passionate about allows our thoughts to move away from our anxiety and onto something we love. For me this is driving a race car. At night when I lie in bed and anxiety begins to overwhelm me, I envision the next track I am racing on. I go over the line of the track, the braking zones, etc. I drive lap after lap in my mind and that takes my mind off my anxiety, which then allows me to fall asleep. Having a hobby or obsession is helpful to focus on the positive instead of the negative.
  5. Exercise: I workout seven days a week at 5:30 a.m. My workouts last for about 90 minutes. This serves a number of purposes in my life.

    1. It is 90 minutes of my time. It is the only time in my day where I don’t have anyone speaking to me or demanding my attention. It allows me to reflect on my life and to make plans.
    2. It is healthy for my body to stay fit.
    3. It dissipates some of my energy so I am not so hyper during the remainder of my day.
  6. Journaling: Keeping a journal allows me to look back at some of the things I have worried about and read about a positive resolution. This serves as further proof that most things I worry about don’t happen. Some of the things to journal about include:

    1. What you are grateful for
    2. What you have achieved
    3. What you want to achieve
    4. When you have worried and how things worked out
    5. Positive relationships in your life
  7. Faith: When I say faith I don’t mean religion. I mean having faith that everything will work out. Our minds are very strong. If we believe that something will work out it usually will. Faith is a way to tell ourselves a story that things will resolve for the best.

You Can Do It

There is no easy way for me or anyone else to tell you to stop worrying. For many of us anxiety and worry are woven into the fabric of who we are. What we can do is utilize tools to mitigate our physical and mental pain.

Thinking of this well-known quote can power you through some anxiety and worry: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but taking action in spite of the fear.”

Daryl Wizelman is the Executive Vice President of California Production for Draper and Kramer Mortgage Corporation. He retains 25 years of experience in the mortgage industry. Read more of Daryl Wizelman’s Thought Leadership here.