Anxiety is a horrible feeling, one second you are okay and in the next instance, it grips your soul. For me it’s like a heavy weight, pressing deeply on top of my chest. Every human on the planet has fear, but anxiety is a deeper more intense feeling than that. I’ve dealt with anxiety for years, and I’ve finally been able to overcome it. Here’s how I did it.
To start out, I don’t know what anxieties you’re facing, regardless of what you’re facing. YOU CAN overcome it. What you’re feeling isn’t necessarily bad, but it shouldn’t immobilize you. You need to learn how to face it. Below I’m placing my top ways to face anxiety.
How To Overcome Anxiety?
I’ll give you an example, I’m a snowboarder, and every winter I get excited when the first flakes of snow begin to accumulate. I’ve been this way for years and I don’t see myself changing anytime soon.
A few years back I had some time off school, so I grabbed my Snowboard and hit my local ski hill. I love to snowboard, I’m an instructor and even have a blog about it. It was an epic day and I pushed myself hard. I was in the middle of a trick and caught one of my edges. This sent me into a spin and I slammed my head into the ground, receiving a massive concussion.
It was painful and weird. I had some crazy tunnel vision going on for a while, and remember not feeling like myself. Over the next few months, I’d do some strange things.
How I Face My Fears On The Slopes?
Three months after my incident I convinced the doctor that I was okay to ride again. It was spring break and I wanted to ride with some friends. I was annoyed, and I’d felt that I missed the whole season.
Everything felt fine as I strapped into my board. I dropped into my first run and started to shred. At first, everything felt fine, but then I discovered that I couldn’t turn left. I wondered if there was a physical issue, leftover from my concussion.
Then all of a sudden a realization hit me. I was stiff and afraid. The anxiety grew so strong that it immobilized me. I didn’t know what to do and felt I’d just lost my favorite thing in the world.
The Season Ended, But The Anxiety Stayed
That day was the end of my snowboard season, it was springtime, and going again was pointless. For the next six months, my snowboards (I have 4) sat in the corner of my bedroom, mocking me.
I knew that I had to remove my mental block, but I didn’t have the slightest idea how. Everyone always says you should face your fears and let go of anxiety, but how do you actually put that into practice?
How I Eventually Overcame Anxiety?
You can overcome anxiety and fear: Start by speaking a simple sentence out loud. Tell yourself, “I will not be controlled by anxiety anymore.” It’s okay if you don’t believe it at first. Eventually, you’ll begin to believe as you repeat it over time.
Naming your fear is the easy part. Next, you have to face it, and put that belief into action. Below I’m putting a few easy tricks that you can use to fight your anxiety.
Not being able to think straight is a major side effect of anxiety. Many of my tricks and tips will focus on getting that feeling back into your mind. When you can think straight, you’ve won 90% of the battle.
Take the ones that work for you and combine them. You can win this battle, but it’s going to take some effort on your part.
Overcome Your Fear, By Taking A Deep Breath:
I know it sounds cliched, but when you stop and take a deep breath it gives your body a second or two of respite. It releases tense muscles and gives you a greater flow of oxygen.
This technique has helped me on many occasions, if you’re still tense don’t stop at one. Close your eyes and take a few. This will begin a process of refocusing on yourself.
Ask Yourself, Is The Anxiety Credible?
We all have anxiety and fears. Some of them are irrational. Sometimes I’m able to fight off the fear just by realizing that it isn’t credible. For example, my first apartment had a loud refrigerator. During my first few nights living there, I’d be lying in bed, almost asleep and it would turn on. With a start, I’d be wide awake, and I’d walk around my apartment until I realized the noise came from my fridge.
Once I realized where the noise was coming from, it was easier to tell myself what it was. However, it still took a while to get over it.
Another way of putting this is that you’re rationalizing it. If you have a deathly fear of flying and it makes you anxious. Look up how many people travel safely by air every day. Statistically speaking you’re very safe.
Get Out And Get Some Exercise:
I’ll be honest, step two isn’t my fallback option. When I’m in the thick of it, I can’t think straight enough to wonder if my fear is credible or not. At the moment it’s real. I can say that exercise has helped me fight the anxiety in my heart.
A lot of times when I’m stressed and don’t know what to do, I go for a run, long bike ride, or snowboarding. The physical exercise is like a reset button for my brain. It pushes everything out of my body and I’m ready to think again.
Then I go back to the previous point, and try to remind myself of that fact when It strikes again.
You don’t have to do anything crazy for exercise. Get outside and take a walk. A change of scenery will give you a whole new viewpoint in life, and your fear might shrink.
Fall On Your Knees And Say A Prayer:
I know religion isn’t the most popular thing out there these days, but talking to God should be. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said a prayer and asked Jesus to help me fight my fears. Don’t worry about the structure of your prayer, just say what’s on your heart. He will understand, and he will help you.
There’s been times I’ve been lost, and afraid. I reached out and Jesus came and saved me. He’ll do the same for you.
Close Your Eyes And Look Ahead 3 Months:
This tactic doesn’t work with every fear, but it’s worked great for the small ones I’ve had. When I find myself immobilized in fear, I’ll ask myself if this will matter in 3 months? If the answer is no, there’s an immediate release.
Some of you out there are thinking, well that doesn’t matter to me. My fear will still be here. Read further on, I’ll be talking about how you can fight the fear. You can come out on top of this battle.
Where Does The Anxiety Come From?
If you find yourself petrified, and you can’t seem to win against the fear in your heart. There are a few questions you should be asking yourself.
- How did this fear come about?
- When was the first time you felt this fear?
- What triggers it?
- How long does it last?
Once you have the answers it’s easier to understand the root of your terror, and it’s easier to combat. If you know the trigger for your fear, you can avoid it. When you know the first time you felt the fear, you know how it was born.
Then, you can develop a plan to fight it.
How I Finally Overcame My Fear Of Turning
I started the post with my snowboarding story because it’s simple, and relevant to everyone’s fears. Every time I tried to turn, my body wouldn’t let me. It wasn’t because my body couldn’t do it, my mind wouldn’t let it happen.
That’s a good description of us when afraid. We can turn left, but our fear of the unknown, the past, or some danger prevents us.
Overcome Your Panic, Fears And Anxiety:
Prior to my concussion, I could turn left. I did it all the time and even taught friends how to snowboard. Instinctively I knew my paradigm was off, and I needed to correct the issue.
I knew it was going to be a painful and pretty long process, but I decided to face the fear. So when winter finally hit, I grabbed my snowboard and went to a bunny hill. As I strapped in I worried a friend was going to see me, but I didn’t care. I just pressed on. The first few runs were boring, but I couldn’t turn left. I was like Zoolander and it was obvious. I was humbled when a 12-year-old kid tried to give me pointers.
After 8 hours of forcing my body to turn left, I broke through. It felt like the day before my accident, and I was carving again. Instantly I went to a bigger/longer run and realized it wasn’t all gone, but I was closer.
This is how you can defeat your fear as well. I don’t know what the fear could be, but you have to fight it. Confront the fear and it will fall. It’s all smoke and mirrors anyway, why not dispel the issue now.
How Can You Use This? A Retrospective
A lot of people are probably thinking, I don’t Snowboard and I don’t care about this. Snowboarding was my fear, and yours is different. How you face and fight the fear is up to you. All I know is that you shouldn’t be paralyzed by it.
Think about a fear that you have. What is your reaction to it? Is it healthy? Shouldn’t you challenge it? I love challenging the fears in my life, it’s truly the right way to live. You feel alive when you overcome it, and when you look back you’ll see how small it was.
Take a second and think about something that petrifies you. Write it down, and go back to the questions I wrote above. Where does it come from? What triggers it. Make your plan, and begin the fight.
Staying Courageous In Front Of Irrational Anxiety:
I have a fear of the future, I’m scared I’ll never make an impact, and I’ll die alone. I’ve seen it happen before and it’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.
I’m a Christian and I pray constantly about it, but I don’t receive a lot of direction. The fear in my heart is always abundant. So I live a constant life of battle.
- I’m always fighting, slowly winning, but I need to keep choosing the right path.
- Am I in the right spot?
- What more can I do?
- Maybe that was the wrong choice?
- Will this mess me up worse?
When fighting our fears we psych ourselves out, and panic about what could happen. What’s worse, is what should’ve happened. Stop being immobilized by your fear and move. Turn into the skid, drop into the run, talk with that person. When you begin to move you’ll see the fear lose its grip and you will break free.
The first step is the hardest part, but once you begin walking, you’ll have the moment you need. Just make sure you finish it.
Courage Is Standing Up To Fear
Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it is the action you take when fighting it. I used to think there were people who were born with a courageous spirit. If you didn’t have it, you were out of luck. After I got some life experience I realized that was a stupid belief. Courage is a choice that you need to make. Usually, it’s made in a split second based on your character. So make sure you’re ready to go.
Below is a story I put at the end of Hurricane Jerald my first book. Most likely I’m going to make it the opening for my next book, but I think it fits perfectly with the topic of courage.
Highway 49 South of Hattiesburg
September 24, 2005
The rain was falling sideways and blowing my truck all over the road. I was thirty minutes from my destination, Ocean Springs Mississippi. It was nerve-racking, and my knuckles had long ago turned white as I gripped the steering wheel. I needed to keep my truck on the road; nobody else was out here to help. I felt alone, as I drove into a hurricane.
Three hours before I was eating a late breakfast in Jackson, Mississippi. We were moving into recovery mode after Hurricane Katrina. The storm tore through the state a few weeks before. Now we faced a new horror, Rita. This hurricane was just as intense and headed straight for us. Its behavior was the same as Katrina. It was very eerie; needless to say, many people were in a panic. Those that could begin to evacuate north. I couldn’t leave; I had no place to go, and I was running an evacuee shelter. 100 evacuees were counting on me for help.
Anxiety Comes Without Warning
Our Pastor called me into his office. Pastor, as we all called him, exemplified the title. He was under seven feet tall.The first time you saw him, you’d be intimidated. Then after speaking with him, he’d inevitably laugh and smile. You’d see he was a giant teddy bear. He was genuine about his love for people, and you could see it written all over his face.
“Sterling, I need you to do me a favor,” he always started it out this way, whenever he needed something. I was a part of his ministry school my job was to help however I could.
Something in his tone scared me, and I couldn’t place it. I’d known Pastor for four years and never heard that tone before. Then, I realized what it was. “Why is he worried?” I got nervous. I’d never seen him worried before.
“Hurricane Rita is about to make landfall on the Gulf Coast in the next few hours. Sterling, I need you to take a load of supplies to Ocean Springs?”
The Courageous Choice
Time slowed down, my pulse started racing, and my palms got sweaty. Ocean Springs was fifteen miles from the gulf coast. Katrina had been only a couple of weeks before, and this man wants me to drive into a hurricane. That’s suicide, I thought to myself. My truck wouldn’t make it past Hattiesburg. There was a time in my life I wondered what Kamikazes felt like, once their planes took off, knowing they wouldn’t return. Did they look back? I stopped wondering after this day. In my head, I was driving to my death.
“Sterling,” he said to me. “You know I would not send you unless I had a good reason. There is a shelter in Ocean Springs that has ninety people in it. They have no food, water, or medical supplies. The church opened as a shelter yesterday, and it’s filled with people unable to evacuate. Most of these people don’t have a place to wait out the storm and couldn’t escape Katrina.
I looked at Pastor right in the eye and knew what my answer had to be. I said; “My truck will leave in fifteen minutes; I’ll load the truck now with food, water, and any medical supplies I have.”
Take Action Against Anxiety
True to my word I was driving away in 15 minutes. I looked in the mirror as I drove away. Overcoming the fear in life isn’t about staying away from danger. It’s about facing it, and you have the skills to defeat it. God gave those to you already.
Make a choice today, tell yourself that with the help of God, you will overcome the fear that’s facing you. Don’ live in terror, live in freedom.
The Path To Freedom
The path to freedom is a narrow rock-strewn one, many people give up on the path, and they surrender to the terror. They never overcome the fear, and the fear rules them forever.
I decided a decade ago, that if I’m terrified, I’m doing something right. At that point, I need to face the fear. This of course applies to choices I make, not choices forced on me by others. If you want to be free of your fear, start today. You don’t understand the things you can accomplish when you’re free.
Make A Plan To Destroy Anxiety
Take everything I said in this post, and make a plan. Write down what you want to accomplish. Originally, I made a list of fears and wrote a plan about how I could conquer them. There were a few that I decided to live with (mostly snakes), but many others had to go. I’d post my plan if I could find it, but it won’t matter. Your plan will be different than mine, make sure you follow through with it.
I wish I had a larger fear of living an unfulfilled life (that’s way too deep to get into at the moment). An unfulfilled life would be terrible. I die and meet up with people in heaven. They ask what I did in life, and I tell them I beat a lot of PS4 games. That would be awful. If I don’t make life worth something, everything else is just filler until I die.
What petrifies you? What makes you cringe when you think of it? That is what you need to face and the fear you need to deal with.