“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela
This quote for me really encapsulates exactly what overcoming anxiety is all about. It’s about being so terrified you can’t breathe, heart-pounding and pulse racing, mind whirling around so fast you feel sick, but doing it anyway. The best way to overcome anxiety is to not get trapped in avoidance patterns of fear; the less you do something, the more reason your brain thinks it has to be afraid, making it even worse when you finally have to do it. Doing the scary thing is hard, but it’s necessary.
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light” – Dumbledore
Harry Potter gives many a good life lesson, especially in regards to mental health. This quote, in particular, rings especially true, as it shows that happiness is within our grasp, and within our own hands. We can find magic and beauty in the world, as long as we keep looking for it, and keep making it ourselves, even when everything seems to be going wrong. We have to remember to turn on that light, and keep it burning.
“Fall seven times, get up eight” – Japanese Proverb
This piece of old Japanese Wisdom demonstrates the true meaning of perseverance; a quality crucial to overcoming anxiety. Although there are many great phrases about this topic, this one captures the difficulty, and hope, that comes with recovery. Recovery is not just getting knocked down once, and getting up and being suddenly okay, but overcoming anxiety is more like being knocked down over, and over, and over again, but to keep getting up. There are many setbacks and relapses when going through the process of getting over anxiety, but one day, if you keep pulling yourself back no matter how tired, exhausted or finished you feel, you’ll be able to breathe again.
“Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter” – Dr. Seuss
This quote, though short and sweet, really helps alleviate the stress that comes with telling people you have anxiety. It can be an incredibly scary thing to open yourself up in that way, and let people in. You may worry they will reject you, or treat you differently because of the load you’re carrying, but remember; if people really care about you, then they’ll understand, and be there for you. You should never be afraid to be yourself, because anxiety may be a part of us, but it does not and cannot define us entirely. People that love us, those who truly matter, will stick by us no matter what.
“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” – Haruki Murakami
Anxiety can feel like a massive, electrical storm raging all around you. But, like all storms, eventually, they have to end and make way for the sunshine aching to break through the clouds. It’s true, you may not be the same person you were before you had anxiety, but that’s okay. In fact, it can be a good thing. Overcoming anxiety forces you to be braver than you ever imagined, and overcome fear itself. Once you’ve done that, you may well find that your life is bigger, better and more courageous than it would have been had you not had anxiety. Getting through the storm will make you stronger than you ever thought possible.
“This too shall pass” – Unknown
This is a great mantra to have in your back pocket (literally if it helps). It’s a very simple quote, but one that’s absolutely true. No matter how bad things may seem right now, or how absolutely awful you’re feeling, at some point it will end, and you will get through it. Everything in life is transient, good and bad, and recognising that even the worst things will one day transform back into the best things is important to keep hope. You can get through the next minute, the next hour, the next day, the next week, the next month, and one day, it’ll be clear skies and plain sailing again. Everything ends, and that’s good news.
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there” – T. Roosevelt
Half of the struggle with overcoming anxiety is actually thinking that you can. If you think you’re stuck the way you are, then this tells and programmes your brain to say “hey, there’s no point in trying, we can never get better”, meaning that when you do try to make changes, you have a greater amount of inner resistance. Believing you can overcome anxiety means you’re far more likely to, as if you keep telling yourself that you can, this means that when you work on it your brain is working as your ally, rather than fighting against the good changes. If you have faith that things will get better, you’ll find that they will. Hope isn’t just a nominally important feeling, but it actually changes your outlook on the world, and your outcomes. If you hold onto it, it means that you’ll actively do things to help you overcome anxiety, because you see a point in doing them. Never underestimate the power of self-belief.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
The ancient Greeks had a lot of good wisdom, but this quote really shows that unfortunately, overcoming anxiety takes work. Tips and tricks that help you take practice and cultivation and time. It’s not an easy journey, but forming good anxiety-busting habits is an important part of it. Furthermore, the idea that we are what we repeatedly do is crucial to understanding how anxiety works, and how to overcome it. Repeatedly berating yourself with negative thoughts and avoiding situations that make you feel afraid means that we become anxious and negative. Whereas, replacing those habits with positive thought patterns and positive patterns of behaviour means that we become more positive and less anxious.
“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today” – Will Rogers
A big part of overcoming any difficult time is to be able to put the past firmly in the past. Sometimes we will have good days, and sometimes we will have bad days. The key is to not let the bad days turn into bad weeks. Being able to say to yourself “okay, today wasn’t so great, but tomorrow I will try again, and it will be better” is a key message to imprint into your brain. This is because over time, when the message has sunk in, if you do have a bad day, the next day you’ll wake up and the bad feelings won’t be clinging to you like an awful hangover, as your brain knows that one bad day doesn’t have to signal the end of the world. Also, another way to interpret this quote is to put mistakes we have made behind us, and not dwell on them too much. We all are guilty of this; ruminating for hours about stupid things we said or did, but learning from these mistakes and being able to grow from them is a far more productive way to deal with misteps than beating yourself up about them.
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest forms of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton
One of the best ways to overcome anxiety is through gratitude. When you have a mental health problem like anxiety or depression, it can be incredibly easy to see everything as negative, and to only see the bad in life. Keeping a list of all the things you are grateful for, or practising daily gratitude has been shown to make us happier, healthier and have a more positive outlook on life. This is because gratitude demonstrates to us that there are many good things in the world, and a lot to be thankful for; this helps us to see the world, and the things in it, as they truly are, not how anxiety makes them seem.