Anxiety is a recurring issue in my life and in many twenty-somethings’ lives. Everyone experiences it to some degree, whether it be daily, monthly, or only during major life events. What most of us don’t know is how to handle that anxiety and accept the fact that it’s just a part of life. So I thought I’d share a few mantras I often repeat to myself during times of stress that have really helped me get through life’s low points.
When you’re in the throws of anxiety, it’s important to remember that nothing’s permanent. That awful feeling will not last forever and it WILL pass. Just because you’re feeling anxious in that moment doesn’t mean that you are an anxious person or that anxiety defines who you are. It’s just something that you feel every once in a while. Accepting the fact that life goes up and down, and that these low points are just a regular part of living, can make them feel less intense as well.
You don’t have to be perfect
I’m not what most would consider a true perfectionist, but I do have extremely high standards for myself. I’ve realized that when I don’t reach these high expectations, I quickly resort to calling myself, or the situation, a failure. But life just isn’t that black & white. Just because something isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s important to recognize this difference and give yourself that room you need to be a little imperfect (because we ALL are!).
There is no normal, there are no rules
One of my favorite mantras that I repeat to myself at least three times a day is this: there is no normal, there are no rules. If you’ve taken any psychology classes, you’ll know that people often carry with them certain assumptions about life. These assumptions tend to be extreme and most of us don’t even realize we live by them. For example, you may assume, “I must have a 9-5 job in order to be a smart, successful person”. Maybe this “rule” has led you to follow a 9-5 job that you don’t truly love, and you feel pressure that if you veer from this plan, then you are not a smart and successful person.
Yes, this is extreme, but you’d be surprised how many rules we have all created in our heads that are as drastic as this. These assumptions are actually preventing us from following our hearts, and they just create added pressure. So next time you feel yourself saying “no you can’t” or “no you shouldn’t”, ask yourself why. Is there some silly rule that’s telling preventing you from feeling or acting a certain way? Question these moments of hesitation, free yourself from these rules you’ve created, and you’ll be amazed at how much of that anxiety will just disappear.
There’s no such thing as “should”
The word “should” shouldn’t exist. (See what I did there?). But really, if you think about it, anytime you are using the word “should”, you’re telling yourself how to feel or how to act. For example, maybe you’re feeling upset because your boyfriend didn’t compliment you on your new haircut. I know many girls who would say, “I shouldn’t be upset because that’s silly”. But if you’re upset, then you’re upset. It’s just what you feel, and that’s okay. You can also be upset AND know that it’s not a big deal. You don’t need to choose one or the other — you don’t need to do anything! Anytime you hear yourself using the word “should”, remove it from that sentence immediately and you’ll see how much pressure you’ll be taking off of yourself!
It’s okay to be not okay
There is such a stigma about anxiety, depression — even just simple anger and sadness. Yes, these are all difficult emotions, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing to feel them. Whenever I used to get stressed or upset, I would try to get out of that state of mind as quickly as possible, telling myself that these emotions were “bad”. But that added pressure just makes things worse. If you’re feeling sad, that’s okay! Let your emotions be what they are and don’t fight them. It would be impossible to feel happy and stress-free 100% of the time, so it’s okay to experience these negative emotions now and then. It’s okay to be not okay!