I know, the whole “get your life together” message feels a little judgy.
But, trust me. There is 1,000% no judgment here.
In fact, living with anxiety, panic disorder and depersonalization for 30 years has left me uniquely qualified as a complete hot mess.
I know this topic inside and out. And, I know that all you really want is to feel like you’ve done what it takes to get your life together and like you’ve got things under control.
I want you to know that feeling like things are out of control is normal.
You are still an amazing person even if your life feels like it is always spinning out of your reach.
Being vulnerable and scared does not make you weak or incapable.
And, there are things that you can do to get your life together when anxiety has taken control.
What’s it like living with anxiety?
Each of us has a different relationship with anxiety.
I have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder and depersonalization. I work to help midlife women with GAD to embrace anxiety as their superpower.
Generalized anxiety disorder has a whole host of symptoms. Some people have more of those symptoms than others. The longer that I lived with my anxiety, the longer the list of my symptoms got to be.
The last straw for me was when my list of symptoms grew to include shortness of breath and sleep paralysis.
After years of “dealing with” chronic panic attacks and depersonalization I now had to live through days of feeling like I was suffocating and waking up in the middle of the night unable to move or talk.
I felt like I was finally going completely insane and totally losing my grip on reality.
I finally said to myself, “Jayleen, it’s time to get your life together and figure out how to get rid of this bitch anxiety”.
Little did I know that the key to “getting rid” of her was to bring her closer and fully embrace her.
Living with anxiety is what you choose for it to be.
And, I have covered the range of possibilities.
My anxiety has been a living hell, no big deal, the one thing that was going to push me over the edge, just something that I have to get control of, and a whole host of others.
But, the only way I have found to truly live with confidence and most of all HOPE FOR THE FUTURE, is to embrace living with anxiety as a blessing.
That might seem impossible and you may be thinking, “sounds like her anxiety actually DID push her over the edge”.
But, stay with me for a minute.
How does anxiety really make you feel?
Scared and vulnerable, right?
What can you learn from living in fear and vulnerability for 30 years?
You can learn strength.
After 30 years of getting pushed to the brink of my sanity and coming back every single time, I am uniquely equipped to deal with stressful situations.
I have the tools and the resilience to bounce back from one gut-wrenching panic attack after another … as long as I believe in myself.
Becoming mindful of your anxiety and what triggers it will give you insights into who you truly are at your core. The rest of the work is just aligning her with who you think you are.
What triggers anxiety?
As you start on this journey of personal growth, the first step is going to be learning everything you can about your anxiety.
I understand that right now your focus is probably on how to get rid of it.
Like, I want it gone, why would I want to know more about it!?
I get it.
But, I would encourage you to practice a slight mindset shift here. Instead of trying to get rid of it … think about trying to make friends with her.
And, that means learning more about who she is.
Your anxiety is a part of you.
There is a reason (or some reasons) why she keeps showing up throughout your life.
Learning more about her and bringing her inside is like putting on your cape and tights and becoming the superhero version of yourself.
Your anxiety is your superpower.
Trying to run, hide, avoid, control, or ignore it will only make you feel more out of alignment and unable to get your life together.
Embracing her and uniting her with the rest of you makes you unstoppable.
Suddenly, that very thing that you were running from is what gives you all of the strength, power, and motivation to own this life and make your next 40 years the best ever.
25 Ways To Get Your Life Together When Anxiety Has Taken Control
Make sure your sharing is therapeutic
There is a fine line between sharing your journey and just non-stop complaining. Don’t waste your energy nagging about how hard things are – save that for your journaling. Instead, keep your focus on sharing in an effort to learn or expand your perspective
Let go of things that are out of your control
The things that are in the past and the things that have not happened yet do not need your energy. Either they have already happened and you can’t change them or they haven’t happened yet so you aren’t a part of them. In either case, your energy and focus need to only be on this moment right now. If your past is haunting you then I highly recommend you study The Work by Byron Katie.
Hold yourself accountable
Embracing your anxiety as your superpower means that you have to own the role of being in charge of your own life. Things are not happening to you. There’s plenty that you can do to influence or change how you react to your life events.
Understand that for every action there is a reaction
Be mindful of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Each of them has a reaction and whether that reaction benefits you or not is completely up to you and what the action was. You have to play your part on your own journey. This is not going to happen for you. You have to show up every day and set the wheels in motion.
Be calm when things don’t work out
Life is hard. This is just a truth. And, guess what? That’s okay! It’s okay to admit that life is hard and that mistakes happen. You don’t have to be in control of everything at every moment. In fact, you CAN’T be! There will be setbacks and there will be difficulties. But, you must stay calm and be kind to yourself during those times. That is all part of the work.
Today is the only day that you have
Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t here yet. Today is it. So, that THIS day right now as it comes. Putting your energy and mental focus on the past creates depression and on the future creates anxiety. Feel grateful for today and all of the wonderful things that happened for you today.
Learn about your personal motivation
There are many different types of motivation and knowing what yours is will give some insight into how to help yourself be successful.
Be clear about your boundaries
Whether it is with people or tasks, make sure to have clear boundaries and stick to them. Prioritize self-care and put boundaries on that time. Stop people-pleasing and put boundaries on negativity. Think of your time as worth $100 per minute. Spend those minutes wisely and on things that will bring a return on investment.
Save the drama
Don’t engage in activities or relationships that bring drama to your life
It’s not personal
Other people’s opinions only have weight if you allow it. Stop assuming that everything is about you and open your eyes to a bigger picture. Other people are going through their own experiences and, whether they direct their anger at you or not, you don’t have to take it. You can choose to believe that they are lashing out because they don’t have the emotional intelligence to deal with stress another way.
Stay open to feedback
This process is a complete lifestyle change and you should always be learning about yourself. The best way to do that is to stay open to feedback from others. Obviously, you don’t need to act on anything that you hear. But, you also shouldn’t be so completely closed off to perspectives that other people share as they might help to enlighten your own perspective.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Being a reformed type-A personality myself, I completely understand how hard this one can be. Asking for help means admitting that you can’t handle something, right? That you’re weak and you can’t do it on your own? NO!! Not even close. In fact, it takes more strength to ask for help than it does to try and go it alone.
Celebrate your wins
This one is just as important as practicing daily self-care. Celebrating your wins while on this journey (or just in general) is essential to building your confidence and removing self-doubt. Use your journal to write about things that happened that day that you were grateful for or that you were proud of.
Face your fears on a daily basis
Fear and vulnerability are where you live when your anxiety is out of control. But, when you’re working to get your life together, you face those fears and leverage that vulnerability into strength and winning.
Remember, Progress IS Perfection
Showing up a little bit every day is where the real change is going to happen. Focus on the 1% improvement rule. You just have to improve by 1% each day and eventually you will see some real shifts start to happen
Get out of your comfort zone
Whether you want to admit it or not, the way that you have been living with your anxiety is your comfort zone. This is your new normal. But, to find some relief from the fear that anxiety brings you need to push outside of that comfort zone so you can grow.
Be mindful of your thoughts and decisions
Remember how we talked about actions having reactions? This goes hand-in-hand with that. Staying mindful of your thoughts and your decisions will keep you aware of the direction that you are moving this whole journey in.
Meditate on a daily basis
Whether you’re sitting still in a quiet room and traditionally meditating for 20 minutes or, you practice box breathing at the red lights when you’re on your way to work, having a consistent meditation practice is an important part of working to get your life together.
Having goals for your personal growth journey is an important part of keeping up the momentum. Your goals start to become your motivation for trying every day.
Setting goals isn’t enough. You have to commit to taking action each day. Because you won’t just get your life together since you’ve set a goal to do that. You need to do the work each day of journaling, meditation, learning about your anxiety, pushing outside of your comfort zone, etc.
I have found that the opposite of “the fear of what-if” is the gratitude of “what’s now”. In other words, instead of overthinking and stressing about all of the things that might happen, it is far more beneficial to you and your mind to focus on what you’re grateful for right this moment.
Learn about who you are
While you’re unraveling yourself from this life that you have led with anxiety at the helm, you will naturally start to learn more about who you are and what you want. Anxiety has influenced your decisions, how you feel about yourself, who you spend your time with, who you share your life with, and so much more. But, as you move her out of the driver seat and embrace her as just a badass part of you, you’ll need to know who you are and how you want to drive this thing.
Spend time on your passions
Part of learning who you are is learning what you like to do … what you’re passionate about. The more focus and energy you put on those things the more clear it will become who you are and what your values are. All of that helps to determine what direction you will move things in.
Make your physical health a priority
We’ve got approximately 40 years left on this Earth, making the most of them doesn’t happen without prioritizing our physical health. Not only does it help our physical bodies but, it also supports mental and emotional health and strength.
Use organizing tools
I’m not talking about Rubbermaid bins for your pantry. Just simple things like a journal or an accountability tool to help you to remember to show up for your goals and to change the way you think about things. It’s important to choose tools that you will use and that you find useful.