One thing I hear people with anxiety mention quite a bit, is the recurrence of anxiety symptoms after a long period of recovery.
People think their anxiety was “cured” only to find out that 6 months, or 2 years later, they are starting to hyper-focus on their breathing again, or worrying about stuff that they wouldn’t normally give a second thought to, or maybe they are having those weird intrusive thoughts again or having trouble sleeping.
The truth is that there really is no “cure” for anxiety. It doesn’t really ever “go away for good”. For those of us living with anxiety disorders, it will always be part of our lives, because it’s a product of who we are as people. The symptoms of anxiety will rise and fall, depending on the level of stress in your life and how well you have been maintaining your emotional health.
Your emotional health is something that must be maintained.
If you fail to do this, the beautiful garden of positivity that you worked so hard to create during and after your previous cycle of anxiety, will eventually become overgrown with weeds of negativity again.
Negative thoughts can grow and breed more negative thoughts. They often crowd out all your positive thoughts to the point that you can’t hear them anymore. You are left with nothing but negativity all day long and before you know it, you are noticing anxiety symptoms again. Once this happens, it can take a lot of effort and time to clear that negativity out again, but it CAN be done.
You must tend to that garden inside your mind if you want it to be a peaceful place. There is no room for laziness. You must be diligent.
Of course, there are natural remedies out there to help you when acute stress strikes and you need some “on the spot” help. But ultimately, for long term anxiety recovery, you have to put in a lot of mental effort and consistency. Every day you must pull those weeds of negativity and discourage new weeds from growing by eliminating worry and self doubt from your inner dialogue. Every positive thought is a seed with the potential to sprout into something wonderful if you simply keep the negativity away from your mind and let some sunshine in.
My anxiety symptoms have come back many MANY times over the course of the last 20 years.
When they come back, I know its not some random thing that happened out of the blue. When the answer to my recurring symptoms isn’t immediately obvious, all I have to do is stop and take a look at what has been going on in my life and the way I have been handling it, and I quickly realize how I have neglected myself and fallen back into old habits.
I also quickly realize that I have a lot of work to do to turn things back around again. But I don’t get discouraged. Being discouraged is not an option. I don’t have time for that. I want to get started on getting that mess out of my head. So I put on my imaginary gardening hat and gloves and get back to work.
Remind yourself every day that you have an obligation to yourself to keep that inner garden of yours maintained, healthy, and free from weeds and thorns. Most of us with anxiety are introverts and we spend a great deal of time inside our minds. It should be a beautiful place to spend our time…not a place that we just want to get out of because its so ugly!
Even though my anxiety is under control now, I make an effort every single day to maintain my mental health and keep things “status quo”.
And it takes a lot of effort. I am a naturally negative, tense person and I like it that way. I am comfortable that way. It’s who I am. But it means that I have to be extra diligent about “practicing” my positivity and relaxation techniques on a regular basis. If I don’t, I will slide right back into those old patterns.
Just because I am comfortable being negative and tense…that doesn’t mean I can indulge myself and allow myself to live that way. It’s not good for me, and I have learned the hard way what happens when I live a lifestyle and practice mental and physical behaviors that aren’t good for me.
If you find that your anxiety symptoms are back in your life and you aren’t sure why, look at your life and ask yourself “What has changed?” “How have I neglected myself?” “What stressors am I currently facing that are contributing to this anxiety?”
There is always a reason that the weeds come back. Always. If you look for it, you will find it. But you can prevent them from coming back at all by always reminding yourself to “plant seeds and pull weeds”, and making sure to keep up with the anxiety recovery steps that I talk about here.
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