Like many things, anxiety is a disorder that only people with anxiety can truly understand.
This makes it really hard for others to empathize with you, because they have not experienced it themselves. It also means a lot of common misconceptions get thrown around.
Here are some things that are often said about anxiety that are simply not true. It helps to understand them when you are on the path to improving your own mental health, or you know someone else struggling with anxiety.
Anxiety is Just Worrying Too Much
Anxiety and worry can often happen at the same time, but they are not the same thing.
Having anxiety is NOT just being worried about something and definitely not something you can just will away by “not worrying as much”.
Being worried about something and having anxiety are not the same thing, though you can definitely experience both simultaneously.
You Can “Get Over” Anxiety
Anxiety is a mental illness, just like depression and bipolar disorder. While there are many different facets of anxiety disorders, and not everyone needs professional help for anxiety, it is not something you can just get rid of by thinking positively or going for a run.
This is also a bit of a gray area, since it is possible to reduce the effects of anxiety or reduce panic attacks with daily routines, therapy, medication, and many other treatments. But that doesn’t mean you cure your anxiety or get rid of it completely.
Anxiety Isn’t a Serious Mental Illness
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety is the most common mental illness people deal with in the U.S. It affects over 40 million adults in the U.S. alone, even though less than 40% of these people get treatment for it.
Why is that?
Because the general consensus is that it isn’t that serious. People assume anxiety is just stress or worrying or worse, they are just overreacting. But if you think you have anxiety, you should think about getting help for it. There are many different forms, each with different effects on your mind and body.
Avoidance is the Answer
You can’t avoid anxiety and hope it will get better on its own, just like you can’t avoid stress, depression, PTSD, or any other mental health issue you are facing.
Just pretending your anxiety doesn’t exist is only going to exacerbate it because you aren’t learning coping techniques for dealing with anxiety attacks. So what can you do?
Find a Creative Outlet to Deal with Anxiety
Having a creative outlet benefits you in a number of ways, both with anxiety and just your general mood and outlook on life. Creative activities often have a calming effect on the body and mind. And don’t worry – you don’t need to be artistic or have a special skill for this to benefit you and help with your anxiety.
Something You Used to Enjoy Doing as a Kid
If you aren’t quite sure how to start, an easy way to transition into finding a creative outlet is thinking about what you enjoyed doing as a kid. Think of it first as a broad generalization, like drawing, painting, playing music, dancing, really anything that used that creative part of your brain.
From there, you can then figure out the specifics. Maybe you liked learning new forms of art rather than sticking to one thing, you enjoyed writing poetry or short stories, or loved coloring.
Anything you enjoyed as a kid could be a sign of what you might enjoy as an adult, even if it’s slightly different. Take it to the next level and give it a try right now. You will reduce your stress and your anxiety will suddenly be a lot easier to manage.
Meditate Through Music and Dance
People often think of being creative as having to be artistic and create something like art or crafts, but music and dance can also be part of the creative arts. Music and dance both get you into a type of meditative state. Not one where you are sitting in a quiet room with your eyes closed, but where all your thoughts float away into the melody.
From listening to music during your daily self-care routine to dancing it out in your living room, it is definitely worth exploring if you have anxiety.
Learn Something New
This is also a great time to learn something new, whether it is a form of art you have always been curious about, or taking a photography class to brush up on your skills.
Make a list of the different creative activities you have been curious about. Maybe you have a fancy camera but you don’t know about all the settings, or you have always wanted to try making pottery or ceramics. There are classes online and in person for just about anything, so let your imagination run wild.
Being Creative Doesn’t Require Being Artistic
Don’t shy away from finding a creative outlet just because you aren’t artistic. First of all, art is subjective, so what you personally love might not be what someone else loves and vice versa. And most people who create things that other deem appealing practiced a lot at it.
But when it comes to anxiety, you aren’t trying to be perfect. You are simply finding a hobby or activity that uses a different part of your brain, helps distract you, and gives you something to do just for you.