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The Joy is in the Journey; Overcoming Anxiety

Sweaty palms, flustered face, an intense vibration resonating from the chambers of the heart.

Ba boom! Ba boom! Ba boom!

Ahhh the overwhelming discomfort the body experiences at the hands of anxiety. I think most of us are all too familiar with this feeling. For as long as I could remember, anxiety had been a prevalent issue in my life, like a little pest just biting away at my mental wellbeing. That is, until I decided I would no longer allow anxiety to rule over me. For years anxiety had me in it’s shackles. Overthinking every interaction, every possible outcome. It became a way of being. The intrusive thoughts would flow in like water in a sinking ship. Slowly being engulfed by water, I was sinking deeper into the abyss. Being in the present moment was not something I was familiar with. Enjoying the journey was constantly overlooked in my mind as the focus would always be the end goal and all of the obstacles I thought would manifest along the road to the destination. The anxiety that would hijack my mental well-being prevented me from connecting with others or from even starting new things on account of fear of what the future held. Getting out of this state of mind was not easy as it took a lot of re-programming. With the help of several books and conscious applying, I’ve had a paradigm shift in the way I view my relationship with Anxiety. It is no longer this huge monster ready to hijack my body and destroy my life. Now, it is simply an emotion that runs through my mental as does any other emotion. Anxiety is now something that I get to choose to have control over rather than having it control me. A reaction or trigger that I’m able to modify through regulating my nervous system and being conscious of the thoughts that I choose to entertain. I’d even go as far as to say that with time, anxiety can be a powerful tool that can be used to your betterment.

Breaking The Mental Barriers

Anyone who’s dealt with anxiety knows what it feels like to lack control over one’s being. When you’re dealing with anxiety, it can sometimes feel like you are not in control of your own body. The intrusive thoughts run rampant and overtake your mental. Looking forward to the future becomes difficult due to the plethora of things that can go wrong. Distinguishing a problem- solving thought and an unnecessary negative program running in the back of your mind becomes challenging. The negative program acts as a constant reminder of the unproductive thoughts that you’re giving too much power to. Only it’s so habitual that entertaining these thoughts becomes second nature. The simple task of setting a goal can enable panic mode as you get hit with this sense of impending doom that seems nearly impossible to shake off. Except it isn’t.

It’s all a mental game that leads to the same place: Mindfulness. Bringing yourself into the present moment allows you to become aware and intentional with each passing thought. When you shift your awareness to your thoughts you, you become better equipped to transmute these thoughts to more productive and positive ones as opposed to entertaining the negative programming. “As within so without”. When we cultivate calmness within, we’re better equipped to navigate the outer world. This can be done through mindfulness meditation, a proper sleep schedule, and a balanced diet. Mindfulness meditation involves sitting comfortably in a tranquil and quiet environment and focusing on breath work. Focusing on one’s breathing brings one’s mind into the present moment by getting in tune with ones body with each deep breath. In practicing mindfulness meditation, one is training their attention to be geared towards achieving calmness, concentration, and aligning oneself with positive emotions. I find meditation essential to calming anxiety. Bringing yourself to the present moment by connecting to your breath leaves no space to worry or catastrophize over the future. When you’re here and immersed in the now moment, you’re more able to enjoy the journey. What this essentially means is to allow oneself to live in the present moment, to enjoy the experience of getting to the destination without constantly freaking out over getting TO the destination. Just as important as mindfulness is sleep! Brain function is directly tied to sleep. With that being said, sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health. It’s essential to have a consistent 8 hour sleep schedule for optimum performance. Given that one’s mental health is linked directly to gut health, it becomes transparent that one’s diet has an affect on the ability to control symptoms of anxiety. According to Harvard medical, a diet rich in magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, and complex carbohydrates can ease symptoms of anxiety due to the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Lowering or avoiding caffeine and alcohol have also proven to be beneficial to those who are making an effort to overcome anxiety.

” We suffer more in imagination than in reality”

– Seneca

Personally, for me, Stoic philosophy has also been the catalyst towards fostering serenity when dealing with anxiety. Stoicism decreases emotional reactivity. Learning how to process one’s emotions in a healthy manner is important. Learning how to pause before reacting to emotions plays a vital role in this. Practicing stoicism helped me heal through my grandmother’s death, although I did process my emotions and allowed myself to feel through them. Stoicism played a huge role in helping me learn to control the anxious thoughts that would appear every so often. It allowed me to shed perspective in the matter in which: I should not worry over what I cannot control, because of just that, I can’t control it. I learned that I could do something about the things that made me feel anxious and not stress over the things that were out of my control. This is why I have reason to believe that applying stoic philosophy to everyday life can potentially lead to a decrease in anxious outbursts. The premise of Stoicism is to live our lives in accordance with nature. This means that we thrive in groups as we are highly social beings, therefore we should use this to our advantage. And that we are capable of reason and intelligence and should apply it in order to align with our best life. The two pillars of stoicism is built on Virtue which entails the following:

• Practical wisdom which speaks on having the knowledge to know that which is good for you and that which is not.

• Courage which encourages you to stand strong in your convictions, always lead with integrity, and have the courage to do the right thing.

• Justice which encourages you to follow your moral compass that tells you what the right thing to do is when interacting with others.

• Temperance which influences you to always do things in the right measure and practice balance. Don’t over or under do anything.

The second pillar is the dichotomy of control. This explains that somethings in our lives, we have the ability to influence or modify, whereas other things in our lives just simply are not in our control. No amount of worrying can change that. Instead of entertaining the negative thoughts, you have the capability to shift your focus to that which is in your control.

Some things are within our power, while others are not. Within our power are opinion, motivation, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not within our power are our body, our property, reputation, office, and, in a word, whatever is not of our own doing.

– Epictetus

The Joy Is In The Journey

Anxiety can be used as a powerful tool towards your betterment, once you learn to conquer it. Being mindful is vital to warding off anxiety. Gaining control over the intrusive thoughts and living life in the present moment breeds self awareness, gratitude, and peace. The joy is in the journey and it is only until one is able to tame the negative programming that they can truly overcome the anxiety that prevents the enjoyment of the wonderful experience that is the now moment.

Anxiety doesn’t control you if you choose not to allow it to. Practicing mindfulness meditation, establishing a proper sleep schedule, following a balanced diet, and implementing Stoicism to daily life all contribute to aiding in the transmutation of anxiety to a more peaceful way of being. To be human is to admit that perfection is not truly attainable as we are prone to mistakes. Certain experiences are completely out of our control, the best thing we can do is to become friends with that little anxious voice in our mind. Remind yourself that these are only thoughts passing through you and you can always find a way to remedy the situation, may it be only so in certain instances through shifting perspective. The mind is the most powerful thing which is why taking steps towards being kinder towards self is a revolutionary act so if you’re reading this, I’m proud of you! Keep striving towards a more peaceful state of being. Todo es amor ♡ .


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