5 Mistakes You’re Making Managing Your Anxiety
On this week’s episode of Mind Over Motherhood, I’m breaking down some of the most common mistakes I see women making when it comes to managing their anxiety.
If you’ve struggled with anxiety for some time, you’ve likely tried a variety of different treatments, strategies and ideas to help yourself feel better. Some of these may have worked, while others may not have worked.
Sometimes you can try a whole handful of things and none of them really work all that well. It’s disappointing and defeating.
In my work with women in Eunoia Medical, I see this situation a lot. Often when they come to me, women have tried SO many different things and they’re feeling at-the-end-of-their-rope.
So in this post, I’m hoping to break down some of the most common mistakes I see women making when it comes to managing their anxiety, or trying to.
If you are unsure of whether you maybe have anxiety but aren’t 100% sure, you should read the post I wrote about The 10 Signs You Have Anxiety Without Realizing It.
First of all, there are no hard and fast rules about what works and what doesn’t in mental health (I mean, there are some things I’m pretty sure don’t work.)
However, there are some specific approaches and mindsets that I have seen are a huge obstacle in women’s mental health.
My goal with this post is to bring these common mindset challenges and mistakes to light. If you find out that you have been making these mistakes managing your anxiety, don’t fret. You are not alone!
This is not intended to shame anyone, but rather to educate and bring awareness to ways that you may be impacting your mental health without realizing it.
Read on to learn more about the 5 Mistakes You’re Making When Managing Your Anxiety!
Are you looking for more support in managing your anxiety?
If you struggle with anxiety and are looking for ways to manage it better, you also might want to pick up my new book You Are Not Your Anxiety: How To Stop Being An Anxious People-Pleasing Mess. It’s my no-bullshit approach to finally getting your anxiety under control and kicking people-pleasing to the curb. You can get your copy by clicking here.
5 Mistakes You’re Making When Managing Your Anxiety
Mistake #1: Wishing It Away
One of the likely mistakes you’re making managing your anxiety is wishing it away completely.
You might say, “I just need my anxiety to go away!” or “teach me how to make it not bother me at all.”
I hear this from so many women and it’s completely understandable!
Trust me, as someone who struggles with anxiety myself, I have even caught myself thinking this from time to time.
It would be awfully nice if it just completely went away.
However, when has wishing something away ever really helped in your life?
Wishing away credit card debt?
Wishing away a bad relationship?
Wishing away crappy weather?
Has this ever actually worked for you?
The issue with this thinking is twofold.
1. It will never happen.
Anxiety is a primitive force that has been keeping our species alive for thousands of years.
It’s deeply embedded in our survival mechanisms and has been selected for by evolution.
Not only is anxiety not ever going to completely go away, but if that were to happen, you would actually be in some real trouble.
Without anxiety, you wouldn’t be motivated to find food or avoid walking into traffic without looking both ways.
You wouldn’t run away from a bear if you saw one while out hiking and you likely wouldn’t have the life that you have right now.
To a degree, our anxiety is helpful to us, so wishing it away is both ineffective but also not very smart.
2. What we resist persists.
The second issue with this thinking is the fact that as Carl Jung said, what we resist persists.
When we wish away our anxiety, we inadvertently cause more anxiety.
This happens because one part of our brain is constantly preoccupied with making sure the anxiety stays away and doing everything it can to avoid anxiety, which in turn only causes us to have even more anxiety.
Wishing your anxiety away is not an effective way to approach managing it.
Instead, try shifting your perspective to:
My anxiety is simply something that comes and goes, but I can learn the skills to manage it effectively.
Mistake #2: Assuming There’s “A Quick Fix”
Anxiety is a very complex experience and is influenced by so many different factors and things in our lives.
Perhaps you had a childhood trauma that you haven’t worked through, you are struggling with your body image and you have a crappy relationship with your parents.
Or maybe you need to put in better boundaries in your life, you can’t sleep well and you need to get a job with more reliable hours so that you can actually have some downtime to rest and relax.
In my experience, it’s very uncommon that women have just one issue that is causing their mental health issues (although it is possible.)
More often than not, there are a few things impacting your mental health.
This is why I created The Eunoia Approach, which is a comprehensive system that examines all aspects of a woman’s life that impact her mental health. You can learn all about it in my book, You Are Not Your Anxiety.
Now I get it, it would be much easier if there could just be one quick and easy fix for all of your mental health troubles that would just zap your anxiety away.
If this existed, I feel like I would know about it by now.
However, this doesn’t prevent women from thinking that there is “one elusive fix” or “a quick fix” for their mental health issues. Most often, it’s in the form of a substance or chemical, like a medication or supplement.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes these tools are helpful and do cause an improvement in your anxiety symptoms (depending on what they are), but it’s unlikely that one supplement or medication will completely solve all of the problems that are impacting your mental health (in fact, I spoke about this in my post last week about the common myths I see about mood medications. You can read it here.)
In fact, more often than not I see women rebounding back with anxiety after a few months because they’ve begun depending solely on the supplement or medication and are not being mindful of their anxiety management long-term.
While it is tempting to wish that there would be “one thing” that can take your anxiety away for good, this is only going to set you up for disappointment and stress.
We often need a combination of different strategies to really tackle the multidimensional reality of mental health and anxiety.
It’s a Journey, Not A Destination
Another issue with thinking there is “one fix” to the anxiety problem is that this creates the illusion that your mental health journey is finite, or that it will have a discrete end point.
The truth of mental health is that it’s a lifelong journey rather than a sprint.
While your anxiety may improve significantly at one point, you will never be completely free of anxiety (see earlier point.)
This journey that you’re on is not something you can simply complete and move on. I know this is opposite to what you want to believe.
Rather, it’s an ongoing process of learning, unlearning and relearning new things about your brain, your body and your soul.
So if you have found yourself thinking that you “just need to find the solution” to the anxiety problem you’re having, try shifting your perspective to one of a lifelong journey rather than a one-time solution.
Mistake #3: Ignoring the “Skills” Part of the Equation
This leads me to the next common mistake I see when women are trying to manage their anxiety, and that is ignoring the “skills” part of the treatment equation.
What do I mean when I say the “skills” part of the equation?
As an MD Psychotherapist, I prescribe pills and teach skills.
This means I prescribe medication and do therapy. (Not all patients need pills, but all of them need skills.)
This potent equation for mental health I often refer to as “pills and skills.”
And the truth is, if you’re depending on pills to do all of the work for your anxiety, you’ll be disappointed. Pills don’t teach skills.
These two things are each important in their own right, but are unstoppable when combined.
In fact, I would say that the skills component of the treatment equation is likely of more value than the pills component, which is why I am so dedicated to doing therapy with clients in my virtual clinic Eunoia Medical.
Without digging down through the onion layers of your life (tears sometimes included), you are unlikely to ever really rewire your brain to have less anxiety, learn more effective coping strategies or change your lifestyle to support your mental health.
You need to learn skills to identify and manage your anxious thoughts, communicate more effectively, set healthy boundaries and create solid self-care habits in order to truly have good mental health.
Ignoring the skills part of the treatment equation will only last for so long. If you continue to ignore the “true work” you need to do to get your anxiety managed lifelong, you won’t ever feel as calm as you want to. #sorrynotsorry
Mistake #4: Ignoring Your Anxiety Once It Improves and Acting Like It Will Never Come Back
This is a very common situation I see in my clinic as well: women thinking that a brief reprieve in their anxiety means it’s gone for good and they don’t have to do the work anymore.
I see this as one of the biggest challenges of using medications as part of a treatment plan for a woman’s anxiety.
It is common that once a woman sees benefits from the medication, she often feels less motivated to do the important work that needs to be done.
Now, don’t get me wrong, any relief from anxiety is a good thing and should be celebrated! 🙌🏻
However what this improvement in symptoms can do is take away the motivation that a woman needs to really get her anxiety under control lifelong and do the hard work in therapy or her lifestyle.
It is important to keep in mind that even though medications have reduced the worst part of the anxiety monster, that it will likely rear it’s ugly head again in the future. This is why it’s so important to continue learning and applying skills when it comes to your anxiety.
It’s Gone For Now, Not Forever
Another common issue I see is when women assume that their anxiety being gone for a brief time means it’s gone forever.
This sort of thinking often leads women to ignore that they even have anxiety and assume it’s never coming back. Wrong again.
Anxiety naturally waxes and wanes, gets worse and then improves, as our lives change and progress.
Anxiety is also a fact of being a human – it’s something that’s not ever going to go completely away.
The issue with thinking it’s “gone for good” is that when it inevitably comes back, the reaction to it coming back is often worse than the anxiety itself.
Women will panic and come to me frantic, needing to know what to do right now to make sure it doesn’t come back. They begin to develop a secondary reaction to their anxiety coming back, rather than predicting it will naturally return and preparing for that day.
When we assume our anxiety is completely gone and never coming back, it sets us up for a rougher time when it inevitably returning.
The mindset shift we need to make is from, “my anxiety is never coming back” to “I will prepare myself for when my anxiety inevitably peaks again.”
If you’re looking for support on what to do when you sense your anxiety is coming back, you can refer to Season 2, Episode 3 of Mind Over Motherhood, “Help! My Anxiety Is Coming Back! What do I do?”
Mistake #5: Being a Victim To Your Anxiety
The biggest and most challenging mistake I see women making when it comes to their anxiety is acting like a victim to it.
Acting like a victim to your anxiety is behaving as though your anxiety is something that happens to you and that you have no control over. This mindset will not serve you well if you are trying to be calm and in control.
Often this victim mindset sounds like, “my anxiety is so bad about that I could never do that” or “my anxiety controls me.”
I wrote about this in my book You Are Not Your Anxiety and also spoke about this in Mind Over Motherhood Season 2, Episode 14 (How You Think About Your Anxiety Matters).
When we approach our anxiety management as a victim, we give our anxiety so much power over us.
If we continue to think that our anxiety controls our behaviour, it will continue to control our behaviour.
If we continue to think that our anxiety is unpredictable and untreatable, it will be.
One of the most important and empowering mindset shifts you need to make is to see your anxiety as something that you can learn about, manage and ultimately gain control over.
5 Mistakes You’re Making Managing Your Anxiety
If you’re reading this and identifying with any of these common mistakes, know you’re not alone.
You’re exactly in the right place and you have been brought to this page to read this at just the right moment. You can change how you approach your anxiety management and you can get your anxiety under control.
If you want to learn more about the factors that impact your anxiety and the action you can take to get it under control, you should pick up my book, You Are Not Your Anxiety: How To Stop Being An Anxious People-Pleasing Mess today!
This book is my honest no-bullshit approach to anxiety management – it’s all of the experience and knowledge I have learned from working with hundreds of women and managing my own anxiety – compiled into one handbook for women who are ready to finally get a handle on their minds. Get yours today!
THIS EPISODE DIGS INTO:
The 5 most common mistakes women make when managing their anxiety.
How these mistakes are so common among women, and that we’re really not alone in our mental health struggles.
How to shift your mindset and think about your anxiety in a new way that will help you feel so much better.
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AUTHOR: DR. CARLY CREWE, MD
Dr. Carly Crewe is a mom to twin toddlers, a modern day nomad and MD Psychotherapist specializing in women's mental health.
Carly believes that when women are well, they have the power to heal and change the world.
Her mission is to revolutionize the women’s mental health care, from fragmented and haphazard to a holistic, comprehensive and integrated approach that meets every woman where she is and addresses the multidimensional reality of mental health.
Dr. Crewe is the founder of Eunoia Medical, a speciality mental health clinic for women in pursuit of a well mind. Carly runs a revolutionary mental health membership for women, The Eunoia Collective.
Carly is the host of the Mind Over Motherhood Podcast and is an Amazon best-selling author. Her newest book You Are Not Your Anxiety: How to Stop Being An Anxious, People-Pleasing Mess will be launching for presale on International Women’s Day March 8th, 2021.