When I battled anxiety, it showed up like a wrecking ball. If you experience it, you know this scene all too well. Just when you think you have escaped, the heaviness comes barreling down after you until it crashes right into your body, taking you on a ride you don’t want to be on. You can feel it in your body, but it goes deeper than the surface, creeping into your mind, too. Your thoughts are consumed by a loop of negative sh*t that doesn’t seem to stop. You feel out of control, and you don’t know how to regain yourself again.

My relationship with anxiety started at a young age, but it wasn’t until I started having panic attacks that I could put a name to it. Just like the wrecking ball, anxiety caused damage I didn’t know how to repair on my own. So I got help.

Everyone experiences anxiety in ways that are unique to them, but you may also find commonalities with others, too. I believe my relationship with anxiety helped me become more self-aware, but also more sensitive to others dealing with it, too. What helped me the most with anxiety was getting to the root of the cause. For me, anxiety was a symptom of something I hadn’t processed and healed. Once I peeled back the layers and explored what was under the surface, I also discovered what brought me peace, calm, and the tools that worked for me to manage anxiety.

Wait…manage anxiety? You mean I still have it? Yes.

You see, my relationship with anxiety used to be toxic. It wore the pants in the partnership, not me. When I healed the emotional wounds that gave anxiety its power, I also took back my power. Now anxiety shows up to let me know something is up with my mind, body, or spirit, and needs attention. I recognize anxiety for what it is – a red flag, a warning signal. Because of that, I know how to deal with anxiety before it takes control, stands in all of the power and turns back into that wrecking ball it once was.

So what made the difference?

Like I said above, I healed emotional wounds. In that process, I found tools that worked for me while I was in the thick of it, but continue to use. I want to share them with you today, so you can start taking back your power, and transform your relationship with anxiety.

Here are 4 Ways You Can Take Back Your Power and Transform Your Relationship With Anxiety:

  1. Write. If you’ve been thinking journaling is overrated or takes too much time, think again. What would you like more…a cluttered mind full of anxious thoughts, self-doubt, and uncontrollable fear…OR…calm, peace, and thoughts that support and inspire you, empower your life and create an atmosphere you can handle? When you externalize your thoughts, especially the ones that keep you feeling stuck, you declutter your mind, clearing a path for what’s important to you. Self-doubt doesn’t serve you, right? Try taking time each day to get your thoughts out of your mind. Your journal won’t judge you and you’ll get back the time and energy you were spending overthinking and questioning everything.
  2. Guided Meditations. I always had the stereotypical vision in my mind of monks sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, and in total silence. Turns out, there are other ways to meditate, and I love guided meditations. When I started my NLP coaching program, my mentor always started and ended our sessions with guided meditations. They helped me so much that I started doing them on my own. Now I do them in the morning before school, many days over my lunch break, and in the evenings. Sometimes I imagine what I need at the time, while other times I use go-to apps for meditations. If my mind is on overdrive with thoughts, I use one of these apps for guided meditations:
    • Meditation Minis by Chel Hamilton: In this app, you’ll discover a variety of free guided mediations that help you easily tap into visualizations specific to your needs whenever and wherever works for you.
    • Calm: I started listening to Calm about a year ago, just as I was learning about meditation. Calm is subscription-based, but has a vast library of meditations for everyone. My favorite was The Daily Jay – messages of encouragement and inspiration combined with a brief mediation to start your day.
    • Expand by The Monroe Institute: Currently my favorite meditation app. Just under a month ago, a friend introduced me to it. I loved the free options so much, it made sense to purchase the subscription. The visualizations are accompanied by beautiful music and help you intuitively explore your imagination, reflect on your inner emotions, and find the peace you deserve.
  3. Take a break from technology. I know, I know. You hear this all of the time! Seriously though, if you are dealing with anxiety, your senses may feel more sensitive to whatever is coming in during the day. I’ve learned one of my warning signals of anxiety comes from my senses. As an art teacher, I am surrounded by busy, creative artists, excited to share about their creations in the studio. When I’m exposed to that much sound and visual stimulation, I can feel it. It’s draining to the point I can feel it in my energy. When I have to be “on” all day long, I intentionally take time to shut things off when I can. That might mean a quiet commute home after school, sitting on my back porch alone, or taking a walk in nature without listening to music or my favorite podcast.
  4. Recognize what you can and can’t control. When anxiety creeps in, you may be feeling like you are out of control. You overthink, your mind is overwhelmed, and you live in “what if land.” It doesn’t have to be that way. You are always in control, whether you believe it or not. When I experienced anxiety at its prime, I felt like everything was out of control – and for me, control kept me feeling safe. That’s what led to my panic attacks. It took me a lot of inner work to recognize what I can and can’t control, and learn to ask myself if circumstances and situations are within my control. If I can answer no, this is not in my control, I have to intentionally tell myself that it’s okay not to worry about it. I takes practice, but this is something you can do, too.

Now you know some of the powerful tools in my toolbox. None of them would have worked for me if I didn’t try them first. The one thing I didn’t tell you? I had to do inner work on myself, too. I am a work-in-progress, and things come up. A lot of emotional wounds in my past were left wide open, and for far too long, I looked for bandaid solutions. It wasn’t until I dug down deep to reveal what was really going on that things started to change.

You have the power within you to make changes in your life to find a better version of yourself. The key is you are the one to take the first step, explore your options, and get the support you need in your journey. You can keep sucking it up, dealing with the stress, overwhelm and anxiety life brings you, or you can equip yourself with the tools to manage them, recognizing they are here to bring awareness to something needing your care and attention. So let me ask you, what’s holding you back from taking back your power and living life on your terms?