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How to Live a Life With Anxiety

Updated on November 2, 2017
Dariann Gretz profile image

Dariann is a stay-at-home mom who, in her free time, writes and studies mental health, psychology, and reviews the effects of medications.

It's the little things. You had a fight with your significant other, your laptop deleted an hour's worth of work, or even though you've asked a million times, no one seems to be able to figure out that the clothes go in the hamper, not beside it. The little things add up and sometimes ruin your whole entire day, and no one else understands why you're clutching your favorite soft blanket for dear life on the couch and when the cat knocks over your favorite glass of brewed tea—you break down ugly crying. Like really ugly. And it's okay to have those days. Sometimes, it's the only way, believe it or not, to stay of sound mind—to just break down every once in a while. But if you were to look just a little bit harder, you'd see that it's the little things that save you, too.

You'd notice that even though it's negative two degrees outside and the trash you were taking out just ripped and spilled its contents all over the porch, the steps, and god knows where else; there's still fresh snow falling from the sky, carpeting everything for as far as the eye can see, and it's glistening in what little amount of sunlight there may be. It's beautiful. And suddenly you don't mind spending a few extra moments out in the cold. You have a coat on, after all. And when's the last time you made a snow angel? Now that you come to think of it, you haven't made a snowman in years.—and this was the perfect snow for packing. You go back inside, beaming, and you tell your husband and kids to put on their coats, hats, gloves, and boots and next thing you know you're spending hours outdoors, making memories that will quite literally last a lifetime not only for you but for your children as well.

Everyone gets so dead set on only recognizing what's going wrong, that they sometimes fail to see just how much those little things that go wrong lead you to something that could go even more right. Of course, anxiety is a wicked, tormenting, twisting rollercoaster ride. Sometimes you do just need a good cry, but don't let yourself forget that that is not the only option. It has taken me a long time and the occurrence of a lot of things I will forevermore live to regret to realize this as truth, but once I did, it shocked me just how easy the quirks and adjustments were to make. And literally, all you have to do is pay attention.

I'm a small town girl. Most of my life I've moved around bigger cities but at heart, I'll always love the woods, late night bonfires, and the smell of neighbors grilling out Sunday morning. So when I finally got old enough, graduated, and moved back to my hometown, I was ecstatic. I loved being back where I felt I belonged again. The only problem was that when I did find a job that met my standards, I was commuting and spending most of my time right back where I did my best to get away from, a city all highway and interstate. I ended up only working there a few months until I found something closer to home, but during my stay, I made sure I found pieces of things to keep me going.

For example, on my way home from work I'd sometimes stop just down the street from my employment to visit with my mom a bit, and on the way there I'd always see this small plot of land next to a Subway that was absolutely filled with purple clover, which just so happens to be my favorite flower. It made me smile every time I saw it, and it brightened my day a lot more. I always thought, every time upon passing it, "I'd love to stop and smell those," but every time, I made up some halfhearted excuse as to why I shouldn't. It's late, what would the people driving by on this busy road think of a crazy lady sniffing wildflowers in an empty lot next to a Subway, I told my mom I'd be there right after work, I don't want to make her wait up, etc., etc. I noticed that each time I passed by and made some small, silly excuse like that, I got less and less excited to see it. In some odd way, I had made myself believe that I was completely incapable of stopping and doing something that would have taken me a whole lot of five minutes off schedule, if that. I created this cage for myself, and it was sucking every ounce of happiness and joy right out of me.

I remember mentioning once to a friend of mine at the time how bad I wanted to stop there, "jokingly" saying I wanted to pick a bouquet and roll around in the flowers, bask in how pretty it was. The next time I passed it, however, I didn't even look to the side to see it. That same day, my friend, my mom, and I met at Subway to grab a bite to eat together. I remember figuring out for the first time that night that Subway had soup. We gathered our to-go bags and headed outside to the cars to head back home, and my friend stopped me.

He told me to put my food in the car, that we were going to do something really quick. By this time, I had totally forgotten about the field. But upon noticing where we were, and remembering that little fleeting comment I'd made about this field of purple clover next to Subway, he had planned from the moment we decided where to eat to ensure that I did exactly what I had told him months ago I wished to do. And it honestly felt like the most liberating thing I had ever done.

Don't forget to put those little things first when you yearn to do them. They are, essentially, the exact things that will set you free. Life isn't easy but don't for a second think that means you have to make it hard. When it comes to mental health and anxiety, you are your own worst enemy. Take control, give yourself those five minutes. I promise you that life will be a million times brighter if you do.

© 2017 Dariann Gretz

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    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 3 weeks ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I used to do the same thing with the loving messages that my husband would send me. I would discount them, or brush them off, rather than letting them uplift me and help me feel important. When I realized what I was doing and how it was a function of my anxiety, I tried an experiment. Whenever he would say something loving to me, I would stop, and say to myself, "he loves me!" The tears would come to my eyes as I felt his love as if he were giving it to me for the first time. It fed my parched soul and gave healing to my heart as well as bolstering my feelings of self-worth.