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I’ve struggled with anxiety for years, but this year my anxiety went into ‘Beast Mode’ and really kicked my ass. I tried everything. Medication, meditation, exercise, changing my diet, supplements, breathing exercises, CBD oil… you name it, I tried it. I felt exhausted and out of luck until I found something I didn’t know could help: changing my thoughts about my anxiety energy.
Before I go any further, I have to give credit to Aaron Doughty. I have been thoroughly obsessed with his daily YouTube videos about mindfulness and the power of the mind. As I’ve binge watched his videos, I’ve learned so much. This entire post is inspired by his video about anxiety. I highly suggest you go check out that video, subscribe to his channel and follow him on social media!
“I Have Anxiety”
I used to wear my anxiety like a freaking Badge of Honor.
Anxiety was something I had, anxious feelings were a part of me and anxiety attacks were part of my regular routine.
It was in my bio on social media, it was the topic of a lot of my blog posts and I talked about it like it was a part of me that I needed to share with people.
I created a name tag that said ‘I have anxiety’ and wore it like it was my actual name.
I attached the word ‘anxiety’ to my energy, but I was somehow surprised that it stuck around.
If you label yourself as anything, that is what you will be because you say so!
People will say ‘I am lonely’ and they continue to be lonely. Because they identify with the label ‘Lonely’, it continues to hold true.
Same thing with anxiety.
So, the more you tell yourself that you have anxiety, the more anxiety energy will stick around and torture you.
I changed my label from “I have anxiety” to “I have an active, imaginative brain”.
This small change allowed me to realize that I am not cursed with some awful illness that is destined to crash my world.
I have a brain that runs wild…. and I can use that to my advantage.
If you have yourself immersed in the anxiety world and you’ve got a badge on your chest, make some changes.
Stop telling people you have anxiety, get out of the anxiety group chats, stop liking crap on social media about anxiety.
You’d be shocked at what this small change will do for you.
Watch Your Patterns
My anxiety used to kick in at the most random, unhelpful times…. and once it got rolling, it would snowball…. fast.
I’d look down at my sweet mutt, Alli, and think about how much I love her and how much joy she has brought me.
Then I start worrying about diseases she could get. When is the last time I got her bloodwork done? Is she up to date on her meds? OMG! What if she’s dying and I don’t know it? How will I pay for the vet bills? If she dies, do I get her cremated? Oh my goodness, I am gonna cry SO hard when I have to pick up her ashes…
But my baby girl is sitting there healthy as can be (staring at me like she knows I just envisioned her death).
These tailspins are patterns… and you can stop them.
What you’re thinking is neither helpful or valid. Your thoughts have zero affect on the future and the only thing they are accomplishing is self-torture.
“Not Today, Satan”
When you notice that you’re beginning a train of negative thoughts, catch yourself.
Catch yourself the way you would catch a guilty toddler drawing on the walls with marker and call yourself out.
If I notice myself strolling down the negative aisle, I pull my shoulders back, stretch my arms behind me and correct my posture. Then I say out-loud “Not Today, Satan”.
I know some of y’all are laughing at me and that’s okay. I laugh at me too.
In one of Aaron’s videos, he mentioned clapping your hands and saying he word “change” as way of making your mind and physical body take notice of the thoughts and change your pattern.
However, y’all know I’m a bit odd and ‘change’ just didn’t seem like something I’d say to myself.
Also, I’m a complete slouch and I’ve realized that I would really hunch over when I got into a negative head space. That’s why I did the shoulder thing instead of clapping.
But, to each his own.
So if you wanna clap, tap your toes, wiggle your nose….twerk. Do whatever feels right for you. Although you’ll look real silly at the grocery if you shout “Not Today, Satan” and start twerking. Just sayin’.
But get in the habit of calling yourself out.
Then, bring your awareness to the moment.
I slowly repeat ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ while I breathe and feel what each part of my body is experiencing.
Some of y’all are laughing at me again.
But try it.
You simply cannot experience anxiety or anxious thoughts while your mind is focusing on your body’s experience in this moment.
Learn To Love Your Hyper Brain
I used to hate that my mind would race… because it would always race down the dark alleyways and sketchy street corners.
But once you get good at calling yourself out and breaking the pattern, you can use that hyperactive brain for good.
Let your brain spiral upward.
I say ‘let’ because you’re going to want to resist this at first.
But the energy in your brain isn’t going to just go away, so you have to learn how to channel it to something productive instead of the negative thoughts.
Start to list your blessings…. or better yet, think about your ‘dream life’.
This is a fun game because it not only increases your frequency by feeling gratitude, but it also lets you explore the things in your life that you may have forgotten that you love.
I start with the obvious : Hunter, my family, Hunter’s family, our friends, our home, Alli, Cooper, Otto, Mojo, Nala, Otter, Demi, my Tribe friends, my truck, the heat in my office, the socks on my feet….
Then I end up at the wildly obscure things: my two front teeth (I had a traumatic thing as a kid- I’m being serious that I feel blessed to have my teeth), banana pudding, my Mildliner Highlighters, my essential oils, my cat’s favorite toys…
Too many negative thoughts can literally damage your physical body, but there’s no such thing as too many positive thoughts… or too much gratitude.
So when you feel yourself starting to spiral, say “Not Today, Satan”, twerk and list those blessings.
Or do something fun that runs out that wild energy in your brain!
I like to start singing my favorite happy song in my head.
“I got this feelin’ inside my bones. It goes electric, wavy when I turn it on. All through my city, all through my home.” (NO ONE can be negative when they listen to that song. NO ONE!)
If you’re the ‘type of person’ that has struggled with anxiety, you have an active brain that loves to obsess. Don’t try to stop it from obsessing. Just let it obsess on things that don’t give you the option to start spiraling!
Rethink The Physical Symptoms
We all know the classic symptoms of anxiety: racing heart, sweating, stomach troubles, feeling dizzy or faint, breathing difficulties, numbness…
But…. those are a lot of the same symptoms as excitement.
So…. what does that mean?
Your body can’t tell the difference between anxiety and excitement unless your brain gives it the definition.
Read that again.
So, if you decide to label those physical manifestations as ‘anxiety’, that’s what it is. Those symptoms will be joined by the overwhelming feeling of doom, grief and worry.
If you decide that what you’re feeling physically is actually excitement, you get to decide what other feelings tag along.
Say that I’m starting to feel the feels…. I’m on a worry spiral downwards about going to the grocery. I call myself out. “Not Today, Satan”, give my arms a big stretch, square my shoulders up, breathe through ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ and let myself get excited about the grocery.
I say ‘let’ again because it’s gonna take some convincing to allow your brain to assign the word ‘excitement’ and not ‘anxiety’ (especially if you have social anxiety like I did), but you’ll get the hang of it.
You’re amazing. You got this!
Let yourself get excited that there’s a whole freaking building that you can go to, walk around and pick out food. Get pumped that you’re going to have food in the fridge to feed your family and y’all are going to have an absolutely wonderful time enjoying it together!
Labels Are Important
I’ve talked a lot about labels and it’s because labels are important.
Anything you label yourself as, you are becoming.
So if you label yourself as a highly anxious person who is prone to anxiety attacks. Is fearful of the grocery story or any large crowds. Has a very negative, obsessive mind and fears the future.
Then, that is what you are.
However, if you label yourself as a very curious, insightful individual that is prone to random fits of excitement. Is grateful to live their life. Has a very positive, obsessive mind and is hopeful about the future.
That is also what you are.
So, you get to intentionally choose your own labels that you’d be proud to wear and live by those. Stop living by the labels that you’ve allowed your energy attach to while you weren’t paying attention.
I’ve created an Anxiety Labels workbook that you can download for free.
It will help you work through the labels and feelings to get you to a much happier place!
Just subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll get an e-mail with the secret password that takes you ‘Behind The Barbed Wire’.
There you will have unlimited access to all of my resources and freebies!
Comment with your experiences with mindfulness and anxiety as well as the ‘call yourself out’ actions you chose!!
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