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.
Related: How Credit Cards Could Help You Reach FI
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.
Hey there. My name is Bob Haegele and I'm an expert at frugal living and saving money. I’m also an EV enthusiast and have recently become mostly-vegetarian. Another thing I started doing recently? Dog walking. I’m working toward financial independence making money via my own ventures. Interested in starting a blog of your own? Check out my post on starting a blog.
This Post Has 41 Comments
Thank you for sharing your story. Finance isn’t just about money, and many people don’t realize that.
So true, Tawnya. So true. I’m glad you liked it!
I know how difficult it is to share that with us but I bet it can help someone suffering from anxiety so you can know you did something great by opening up
Great post! I struggle with the same and have an on social media and blog personality and offline personality as well. I think if we met in person a lot of people may be surprised that I am not what they expected. Thanks for speaking out on such an important topic.
Totally agree. No problem. 🙂
I love this post! Anxiety is a weird thing. I find it to come and go and it’s not a pleasant time when it invites itself…
I just tweeted today about my own anxiety problem – meetings. Anxiety is a b*tch and definitely hits my productivity at work because things like meetings put my body into “anaphylactic shock” (I tweeted). But I agree, Meetup has been really wonderful for meeting people and making connections for me. Hiking meetups especially because you get the connections and the exercise.
True, I need to try hiking! We have one here called “Life is a Hike” and those usually cap out at 50 members and fill up the day they’re posted. It’s crazy! I think there are others though. I need to try one. 🙂
Thank you for sharing this Bob. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. I’m glad you found some things like meetup that work for you.
Thank you 🙂
Truth in so many ways. Anxiety can veer you off the path in more ways than one. Even the little anxieties can snowball one into a big mess. I think a lot of us have our own little fixes for our own anxieties. Different fixes work for different types of anxieties. I like it that you mentioned MeetUp! MeetUps are indeed great ways to meet likeminded folks and already knowing what common interest you share can really help to break the ice. It’s also a great first step that you take to tackle anxiety dead in the face. I get anxious when I overload myself, which happens a lot cos I’m overly ambitious with my own abilities and scheduling! Like when I travelled I never planned rest time into the itinerary! Even if I step away or take a break, that alone creates anxiety that duties are piling up! I find that I have to dive in and start doing. Only when I clear enough to get to a normal routine the anxiety clears.
That’s true – having “me” time can also be very helpful. I’m glad you found something that worked for you and that you enjoyed the post. 🙂
I can relate to a lot in this post, and in the comments as well. I can really relate to that inability to just “turn it off” – sound easy but it’s pretty much impossible to do. Good you for opening up and writing this, it must have been hard to do. Your suggestions are helpful!
I’m glad you enjoyed it, thanks!
Thanks for sharing your story Bob! It took a lot of courage to write this piece. I’ve found that exercise is a good cure all for any issues i’ve dealt with. I’ve had my fair share of obstacles over the years so I definitely deal with some of my own anxiety and mental blocks. I’ve found that focusing on exercise and a good diet really helps. Also, I went to a therapist for 2 years after my first marriage ended. Best decision I’ve ever made! The combination of therapy and meeting a wife who is much more engaging and outgoing than me has transformed me into a person I really like today. Stay focused on working on yourself and you will see good results!
Haha, I guess it took courage, but I feel pretty comfortable opening up about it to you guys, at least online. You all have been very supportive, so that helps a lot!
I definitely agree with all of this – especially the correlation between anxiety and productivity. When I am anxious, and I definitely am in person, I have a hard time being productive. This is fantastic – thank you for sharing your experiences.
No problem, I glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
Thanks for sharing this. I used to have a lot of anxiety and this has reduced a lot. Things that helped were to remove myself from certain environments so I can thrive, this worked. I also knock around with good people and remove myself from those who don’t have a good energy.
I’m very different now and find it easier to speak to random people. I think I’m the opposite to you where I’m probably not entertaining at all online but more engaging off it. I don’t have a special formula apart from being comfortable within myself.
The only real anxiety I have now is being totally open as I don’t like offending people, oh and a healthy anxiety when trying something completely new.
From my perspective you are pretty popular on Twitter, people like you and find you funny. Please take some strength from that.
Haha, appreciate the compliments. Sometimes I wish I were the opposite, but then again, both ways can be useful at times.
Thank you for sharing! I am so glad that people like you are speaking out about anxiety to help lessen the stigma. My theory is that even the most poised and put-together people you interact with are all secretly terrified on the inside, just like the rest of us! LOL! Thanks for the great post. I have so much social anxiety too – I’ll have to try the meetup idea.
Exactly. There is definitely a lack of awareness; that’s something I’ve realized. I will say though that it’s hard – especially for me since my anxiety and being shy are closely related. It makes it difficult to talk to people, so that makes it hard for them to glean things from me. But yes, writing should be helpful. I’m glad you like the post!
Great post. As someone who has had anxiety for most of my life, I totally agree with how it affects these aspects of life. I had never heard of MeetUp before but it sounds great. It’s funny how anxiety can affect our ability/desire to do exercise and yet exercise is a great way of working through anxiety. I recently starting exercising regularly and it has done wonder for my anxiety, even if some days just thinking about doing exercises caused my anxiety to go up, I powered through it and felt better once I was done.
Definitely give Meetup a try. I think you have to go to several events before you start to really bound with people since you are starting from scratch, but I’ve met some great people that way. It’s definitely worth a try!
Great post, Bob! It’s great that so many more people are opening up about mental health. I think more of us struggle with it in one form or another than anyone realised. I don’t normally have big anxiety but went through a stress induced depressive episode last year where anxiety also played a big part, including getting panic attacks which was pretty scary! It is definitely really difficult to keep yourself on track when you have these obnoxious thoughts in your head. It’s difficult to switch it off like you say! Therapy was a big help for me though so I would encourage you to give it another try. Exercise is great too, even if it is just a walk around the block 🙂
We all have our unique set of challenges – that’s for sure. Honestly, with the going back to therapy thing – it’s really just been one of those things where I easily could go, but I’m afraid of wasting my time on another less-than-positive experience. I realize it’s probably more likely to be a good experience and I just got a bad draw initially, but yeah, it’s a mental thing like I said. Just need to get myself motivated, I guess. ? Thanks for your input!
Thank you for such a great article Bob. So many people will relate and take comfort they they aren’t alone in how they feel. You also give options and discuss what works for you and other options you may try. Agree, meetup is a great way to meet people – I used it a few times when I was on my own to meet some like minded friends.
Hope you find more of what works for you – love your final paragraph – we are all a work in progress! ?
I’m glad you liked it! Yes, well, I hear you are always supposed to have a “call to action.” So I thought it would be a good idea to recommend some solutions. And I’m happy to see some commenting to say that they have tried some combination of these things and that they helped!
This post is fabulous, and unfortunately I can relate to pretty much all of this. It may seem impressive that I run as much as I do, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that it’s my best way to combat anxiety and come back with a clear head 🙂
Well, hey – at least it gets you exercising, right!? Maybe a bit of an unconventional methodology, but whatever works. 🙂
This is really great and helpful post Bob, thanks for sharing it. I also find online interactions much easier than in person and it’s a big reason I’ve enjoyed blogging so much. There seem to be a lot of us out there who feel the same and understand how important internet friends can become. I’m certainly more comfortable behind a screen but I need to keep reminding myself to push myself out of my comfort zone every once in awhile.
Couldn’t agree more! I have actually told people that during Meetups – I am shy and tend to be quiet, but with Meetup, I have to force myself to be social. And honestly, I do think it has made a difference. I do find myself speaking up more than I probably would while spending time with my friends from my hometown, out of necessity, really. But I think it makes a difference!
Thank you for writing this. It’s something I struggle with as well. Very well written.
Thank you – I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
This is a fantastic piece of writing, that is easy for anyone who doesn’t suffer to understand us that do. All those that say “pull yourself together” or “ you’ve got nothing to worry about” reading this they may just get it! Thanks very much. I look forward to reading more of your work, especially about how to save for a holiday …
I certainly understand. I have a neurological disorder which I have blogged about. So I can relate with a lot of your issues.
Thanks for the comment. I need to check out that post of yours.
Good stuff here
WOW! This is an amazing post! I think you have another viral hit on your hands!
You taught me a lot in this post and I have anxiety! LOL I appreciate that you told your story and I am sure that many people with be helped by this post.
I have scheduled on Pinterest and on Twitter.
Thanks Jen! I’m glad you like it, and thanks a lot for sharing. It can be a struggle, but it’s a struggle you just have to live with. All we can do is find ways to manage it.