3 Things I Learned in an Anxiety Group

Now a quick disclaimer – I am not a professional! I am not educated in mental health, anxiety, mindfulness, or any of that! I am simply a person who deals with pretty serious anxiety and depression, went to counseling, attended an anxiety group, and honestly learned some things. So definitely take everything I say with a grain of salt because my only evidence is myself.

 

  1. Assume Everybody Loves Your Shirt

              So, it might sound dumb, but it’s something I try to remember. I try to think everyone loves my shirt. The counselor who ran the anxiety group I attended explained it with his sweater: “You could all think my sweater is the ugliest thing, or that its super cool, or you might not have thought about it at all, I might as well assume you all love it, because it makes me happier and more confident to think that”.

              Why wouldn’t you go about your day assuming people are thinking positive things about you? Obviously, this does not apply to everything, but when it comes to the little things that really don’t affect anyone else, assume the better one. Assume they think your eyeliner is PERFECT, your outfit is adorable, or that your shoes are so cute. It doesn’t matter what people are actually thinking, so tell yourself they are thinking great things. It can help when you’re worrying and feeling anxious in social situations, to just assume the good thing.

              Tell yourself they love your shirt.

 

      2. Mindfulness

              People think of mindfulness as ONLY thinking about the present; being completely aware of the moment, or they think meditation, and that you are supposed to be able to have an empty mind where you’re not thinking about anything.

              If that’s possible for you – you’re amazing, good job, I am truly so very jealous. But, I guess it goes without saying that most of us in that anxiety group, had anxiety, and were not the people you can tell to stop thinking. My thoughts normally run a million miles a minute; we start with reading a chapter for Biochemistry which quickly spirals to failing the exam, being kicked out of school, not succeeding in life, dying alone, or something like that. Mindfulness is about noticing that spiral, then coming back. Like this (the blue arrow is what you want to do)

              Notice that your thoughts are running away from you, and try to bring your mind back. You can bring it back to your breath, bring it back to the taste of your dinner, or how your sheets feel on your skin, or a song you’re listening to. Sometimes it helps to just pay attention to something; maybe make a cup of tea, and really pay attention.

 

      3. Talk to Yourself like Your Best friend

When your friend screws up, you don’t yell at them, tell them how much they suck, or that they are a failure. You wouldn’t dare! You would tell them you love them, that everyone messes up sometimes, that it’s going to be okay and that they can learn from this.

              So, when we screw up, say something stupid, fail a midterm, forget to do something – why is it okay that we yell at ourselves in our head? It’s not! Like mindfulness, try to catch yourself doing this. If you notice you’re talking to yourself with a mean voice, kind of like you’re bullying yourself, remind yourself about POSITIVE SELF TALK. It really is so important. One of the best ways to think about it is that best friend idea; you should talk to yourself in your head the way you would talk to a friend– to a person you love and care about. Because you should be a person you love and care about. Let’s start now; you look so cute today, it’s totally okay that you said the wrong thing, everyone makes mistakes, you’re doing a great job. I love you!