Anxiety is a complicated subject, to say the least. While I am not a psychologist by any stretch of the imagination, I speak from experience.
That’s because anxiety is something that affects me personally. And by that, I mean it is a daily struggle. That may not be obvious because I tend to be pretty outgoing online, but that is far from the whole story.
I have mentioned it on Twitter at least a few times, but basically, I have two distinct personalities. No, not a split personality; we’re not talking that serious here. What I’m referring to is basically an online personality and an offline personality.
The fact of the matter is that I behave quite differently online than I do offline. Why is that? Yep, you guessed it: anxiety.
Anxiety can make everyday interactions seem like a huge ordeal. It’s difficult to put it to words, but I often experience a sense of uneasiness when talking to people in person. Eye contact can be difficult. That is just my reality.
So then, the reason I have a different personality online is that I am not physically in front of someone. It may sound silly, especially to the extroverts out there. But not being physically in someone’s presence significantly lessens my anxiety, making interactions a lot easier.
Needless to say, anxiety can seriously complicate things. Now, I’d like to talk about some of the specific ways it does so.
1. Anxiety Makes Sticking to Your Budget a Challenge
Being that this blog is primarily focused on personal finance, it’s easy to guess why I picked this one first. It’s true, though: if you are constantly feeling uneasy, that can easily cloud your judgment.
Thus, it might be more difficult to stop yourself from going on an Amazon spending craze. Maybe it’ll even include one of these ridiculous products!
And things could look even worse if you run a tight budget and decide to buy on credit, especially if you tend to carry a balance from month to month. I’ve written before about how I really like credit cards, but they aren’t for everyone.
2. Your Productivity Might Take a Dive
If you are feeling anxious, it can be very difficult to stay motivated. That’s because it can cause you to be distracted and unwilling to accomplish the task at hand.
Plus, curling up on the couch to watch Netflix or read a book is comforting, and you might think that doing so will make your anxiety go away. After that, you can get to work, right?
While that sounds nice, this is an ongoing problem that can’t be fixed that easily. Sure, you might feel better temporarily, but that is definitely not a permanent fix.
3. Anxiety Makes it More Difficult to Stick to Your Goals
This one is closely related to the first two points, though it can go in a slightly different direction.
For example, your goals might come in the form of sticking to a budget, paying off debt, or saving up for travel. That is the personal finance blogger in me thinking out loud again, but of course, there are other goals you may have.
We all have our own unique set of goals. Maybe yours is to spend more time with loved ones, or to learn a new skill, or to finish that project around the house.
Whatever your goal or goals may be, anxiety can, unfortunately, wreak havoc on just about any of them. That’s because, as I said earlier, it can leave you feeling distracted and unmotivated.
4. Old Habits Die Hard
Anxiety is closely related to being nervous; thus, for me at least, anxiety feeds nervous habits. And while I hate to admit it here, I have always had a problem with nail biting. Yes, that is something I do at times. I am managing it a little bit better than I used to, but it’s something I have never been able to stop doing completely.
Needless to say, when my anxiety is running particularly high, that’s when I usually turn to my bad habit.
I never feel good about it – certainly not later on, but sometimes even while I’m doing it – still, it’s difficult to control, especially when I’m feeling anxious.
5. Diet and Exercise Might Suffer
This is yet another yet another struggle that is related to the first few. Yet again, it’s that lack of motivation that can spell disaster for your physical health.
That’s why these mental health issues are such a big deal – they can affect you both inside and out. I know this one has happened to me personally. Sometimes my anxiety can just make me feel really low.
And when that has happened, I might order a large pizza and eat it within a couple of days. If you think that doesn’t sound so bad, just know I don’t normally eat pizza all that often. Even if I’m not the healthiest of eaters, I try to be relatively healthy.
The bottom line is when your mental health is compromised, things can quickly spiral out of control if you don’t take control. More on that later.
6. Making New Friends Can Be a Struggle
Perhaps most obvious is this one; it’s also the gist of the intro to this post. Indeed, feeling anxious can turn even the most trivial of interactions into a battle with your own mind. Even if you know you have no reason to be nervous, you can’t just “turn it off.”
As far as I know, a lot of mental health issues are similar – anxiety, depression, OCD, etc. You might realize that at any given time it’s illogical to be experiencing them, but that doesn’t mean you can just magically stop them.
I will be the first to admit that while I have taken some steps to address my anxiety, I’m not doing as much as I probably could. That said, let’s look at some ways to lessen its sometimes crippling effects.
What Can You Do About it?
Firstly, one thing to know about anxiety and mental health issues, in general, is they aren’t necessarily something that can be overcome completely. In other words, they can be managed, but not necessarily eliminated altogether. But there are certainly some steps we can take.
One of the main ways I have been meeting people recently is through Meetup.com. I frequently recommend it to people because I have been using it for quite a while now and have had a positive experience the vast majority of the time.
That is especially helpful for people like me who move around a lot. I am in yet another town where I knew absolutely no one before moving, so being able to invite myself to events is a huge help.
Not only that, but, to be totally honest, I don’t tend to make a lot of friends organically, yet again due to my anxiety. So, no, I am not very likely to strike up a conversation with someone at the coffee shop. But Meetup allows me to simply find something that interests me, RSVP, and then go to the event. That’s pretty much it!
For nervous introverts like myself, Meetup is honestly one of my absolute favorite sites. And they have an app as well if that’s what floats your boat.
Talk to a Professional
…and by a professional, yes, I do mean a therapist. Here’s the thing, though: I have yet to give this a serious try myself. I did talk to a therapist once, but I quickly realized that particular clinic was not for me.
That might be the biggest issue here – I’ve heard it can be a mixed bag. It can be difficult to find a therapist you actually like, and whose approach to therapy is one that will work for you.
I would prefer not getting into the details here, but that is basically the experience I had. And by that I mean it was not overwhelmingly positive. That can be a bit discouraging, which I guess is why I haven’t attempted to find another therapist even after several months.
There is also the issue of medication. I was given a prescription for Zoloft but was told you have to continue taking it for a certain period of time before it starts to be effective. I believe the time period was four weeks, and I didn’t make it that long. Part of the reason was that I wasn’t interested in returning that particular clinic.
Either way, some people like medication, and some don’t. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, but I would probably have a stronger opinion on it if it had actually been able to see the effects.
All in all, I think that at the very least, this option is worth exploring. I would say that is especially true if you are experiencing more severe symptoms.
I realize I specifically said above that you may have trouble sticking to an exercise routine when struggling with mental health. Still, that likely won’t apply to everyone, and if you can muster the motivation, this could be a way to help curb your anxiety.
One of the YouTubers I follow actually does this, and it has worked extremely well for her. Warning: if you visit Emily’s channel, she is quite vulgar sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time. So yes, be warned.
In any case, Emily often talks about her struggles with depression and anxiety. She also didn’t feel that therapy and medication were working for her, so she turned to exercise. In particular, she chose kickboxing. Although I have never tried it, I can definitely see how kicking and punching could help with anxiety. Maybe I should give it a try sometime!
A Work in Progress
I do believe that some combination of these things can be a big help for anyone dealing with anxiety, or any mental health issue for that matter. That said, I like to think we’re all a work in progress. I know I am.
Some days will probably be better than others. And even if you manage to take greater control of your mental, it’s likely that those issues with never vanish completely.
But even if they never do, that doesn’t mean they have to own you. You control your own destiny; remember that. After all, we’re all just a work in progress.