Managing Anxiety: Acceptance is Key

As we’ve mentioned, anxiety is a response to a perceived upcoming threat. However, a curious thing about anxiety is that we have many ways of making it worse than it needs to be. We have not only a response to an upcoming event, but we have our responses to the response. What do I mean?

Let’s say you have an important test at school or meeting at work. It is only natural to be somewhat nervous, and as we’ve mentioned, that nervousness can be beneficial (it makes you prepare). However, in addition to this natural nervousness, we pile on additional nervousness. An example might be the feeling of frustration that you are nervous. Nobody else gets nervous, you might think to yourself. So what is wrong with me? This “second-level” anxiety, which is all your negative feelings about the anxiety itself, is often MORE of a cause of unhappiness than the original anxiety.

One major strategy to reducing your anxiety, then, is to accept that you have the original feeling. I am nervous for my presentation on Monday, and that’s alright. What this does is prevent any piling-on of unwanted, negative emotions to an already unwanted emotion. Sometimes, this can make all the difference.

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