When it comes to anxiety, everyone sounds like an expert online. Scroll through your feed and there are hundreds of self-help blogs talking about lowering anxiety and treating more like a habit or fleeting feeling rather than something serious.
If you struggle with anxiety, you know that it can be debilitating. It’s more than just occasional nervousness—it’s something that follows you, affecting all aspects of your day.
But whether you have chronic anxiety or simply feel nervous at times, this article is for you.
When you’re sorting through useful practices and anxiety tips, here are some you should actually stop listening to:
1. “Just breathe.”
Although well-meaning in nature, telling someone with anxiety to ‘just breathe’ is condescending (not to mention painfully obvious). Yes, you can and should regulate your breathing when you’re feeling stressed—but don’t feel like this is this ‘easy’ fix.
It’s okay if you’re breathing and you still feel overwhelmed. It’s okay if you feel imperfect (you’re not!). Try, instead, to focus on something that settles you until you feel you can face the moment again.
2. “Just forget it.”
You can’t ‘forget’ anxiety, especially if it’s serious. You also can’t ignore situations sometimes because they’re happening and need to be addressed. Although someone who may say this could potentially be trying to encourage you in leaving what you can’t control out of your mind, it’s not realistic.
Rather than forgetting, channel your nervous energy into some sort of action (even if it’s small). You don’t have to have it all figured out, but you don’t have to feel paralyzed, either.
3. “Just focus on something else.”
This goes hand-in-hand with forgetting, but sometimes it’s simply not possible to focus your attention on something else. Sometimes you have to keep your eyes on the road. Sometimes you can’t pretend that what happened didn’t. And sometimes you don’t have the mental break in your day (especially in the workplace!).
Learning to figure out your own sense of balance is more important than getting your attention directed in a different way. While someone may be trying to encourage you to let go, sometimes the best anxiety tips deal with working through and out of the emotion, rather than pushing it to the side or pretending it’s not happening.