2009 - Jeff Emmerson

2009 – Jeff after a day of college classes. A year later, he burned out of university and his journey into the mental health system began.

Mastering Anxiety Is A Life-Long Process (Humans Always Have Some of It)

Here’s the first key rule to teach people (as I head to learn myself): Don’t have the unrealistic hope of “eliminating” anxiety from your life, because you’ll be setting yourself up for failure from the start. Humans have anxiety to a degree for good reason – it helped us stay alive back in the “caveman” days. It’s in our genetics, in our DNA.

Looking around and having a 360-degree way of living kept us safe from becoming the next meal if a nearby tiger or lion was hungry, for example. Once you internalize that fact, the key is to figure out your personal anxiety levels, your patterns and the things that bring on high levels of it in your day-to-day life.

Start Small and Be Gentle On Yourself (Do Not Try to Be “Perfect!”)

Obviously I’m covering a few of the more general tips I’ve learned from my own life when it comes to mastering anxiety more effectively. I need to remind you that only you know yourself, your living environment and your day-to-day routines (as well as your thought and behavior patterns). I also need to tell you that from my own very intensely-lived experience (in and out of the psych ward, even), I had to learn to breathe and not allow my sense of shame and internal drive toward perfectionism result in quick self-sabotage – it’s done that many, many times before.

Breathe….let go and breathe deeply through your stomach, not your chest. Now do it again…

Sometimes the root of anxiety is in childhood trauma or pressure from family or friends. If that’s the case, it’s going to be really important to remind yourself that no matter what’s causing you anxiety in the moment, you are your own person – no one else’s! This is your life, and nearly 35 years of seeking my Mom’s approval drove me to a near breakdown on several occasions (another personal example).

Though it has taken me decades to “find myself” and be at peace in my own skin, I now breathe deep and simply do my best. That has to be enough, as black and white as it sounds. I won’t give myself a heart attack to be “perfect,” which is a damn lie, anyway. I will be my best, though, and do my best each day, also knowing when to back off and rest instead of self-sabotage.

Talk To Someone (Or Read Books, Etc.) to Learn About Coping Strategies for Anxiety

One great book I’ve been reading over (several times) is The Anxiety Toolkit by Alice Boyes, PhD.  I’ve been to many therapists throughout my adult life, and they have all helped in one way or another, but books, videos and other resources are also invaluable, depending on your learning style. I’m not paid a thing if you buy Alice’s book, so feel free! I was given a free review copy from her publisher, which was incredibly kind, so it’s the least I can do to share her work, since I have benefited from it myself.

I always like to give thanks to those who help me in some way, shape or form in my journey. Anyway, enough about me – keep going, keep being gentle on yourself as you go (this is a journey, after all!), and remember that you are NOT alone in anxiety being overwhelming at times. Holy cow do I ever still feel it sometimes myself.

Stay tuned for many more posts on mental health and ways to live better through personal understanding and development. It takes time and effort, but we’re worth it! I finally see it in my own life, as long as it took to get here.

From the heart,

Jeff