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  • Writer's pictureOanh Kim

Conquering Anxiety: How I Found Inner Peace

"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf." - Jon Kabat-Zinn

It's been almost two years since the pandemic hit, and I'm finally starting to feel like my old self again. But it's been a long road to get here, especially when it comes to my anxiety. I used to be such a social butterfly, but after everything that happened, I couldn't be around crowds. The fear of being around people again was overwhelming.

At first, I tried to bury my feelings and ignore what was happening, but that didn't work. I knew I had to seek help and learn some coping mechanisms. So here's what I learnt from the experts and did with their guidance:

First, I acknowledged that I was anxious and that it wasn't a problem. Second, I had to stop thinking or saying, "I will never be able to get out of this" or "I am incapable." Instead, I had to believe in myself and understand I could overcome this.

Next, I tried to figure out the source of my anxiety. It's much easier to handle fear when you know exactly what you're afraid of. Then, I thought about what was causing my anxiety. Was it something in my environment? Was it a possible mishap?

Once I identified the source of my anxiety, I had to determine if it was solvable or something that only time (or my imagination) could manage. If it was something that couldn't be dealt with now, I made a conscious effort to put it out of my mind. But, on the other hand, if it was something that needed to be dealt with, I took steps to create a course of action.

I also considered the worst-case scenario. I took a moment to think about the honest and absolute worst thing that could happen due to my anxiety. This helped me realize that even if the worst did happen, there were a few endings that couldn't be dealt with in a reasonable manner.

I accepted uncertainty as well. It was tough to stop worrying when unsure how a scenario would play out. But I had to accept the ever-present fact of uncertainty. I couldn't know how something would go, or the ending; worrying about the unknown was an unnecessary source of fear that could be avoided with the simple acceptance of chance.

I also considered the use of my worry. Of course, I was worried for a reason - my anxiety is my fear response to a real or imagined scenario. But problems arise when we begin worrying about things that don't cause us danger. So, I thought about the purpose of my worry. Was it helpful? If I was afraid of a legitimately dangerous situation, my worry was being used. If I was anxious without a purpose, my worry had the best of me.

Finally, if worrying was helpful but was still taking over my life, I tried setting aside a specific time each day as my worry time. Then, if I started worrying outside of that time, I wrote down whatever I was thinking about in a notepad or on my phone.

TRUTH: Coping with anxious thoughts is the key to overcoming it. I didn't let anxiety define me, as it could lead to long-term depression, an even more serious mental health issue. I'm glad I sought help and learned how to cope with my anxiety. Now, I'm slowly returning to my old self and looking forward to being a social butterfly again.


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