My experiences in dealing with anxiety…

First, you're not going to get anywhere if you have a negative attitude towards yourself or others. Negative thinking is not going to help you progress, it will only get you stuck in a rut and sinking fast. Once you shift your mind into the positive, you are far better equipped to fight anxiety. That is what I have noticed anyway. I will share with you some of the things that have worked for me in my battle of anxiety and hopefully you can gain from reading this.

Probably the most important thing I did in attacking my anxiety was giving it a name. My anxiety's name is Albert. This type of thinking separates you from the anxiety, making it a separate entity. Therefore, I am no longer anxious, I no longer have anxiety, I have Albert who likes to give me a hard time. With that mind frame, I can say " screw off Albert" and I find it very effective in dealing with anxiety.

Another thing that has worked for me is asking myself "is this a rational thought?" A lot of times, the things I am worrying about aren't even logical. For instance, the toilet water cannot splash high enough to get in my hair, so the thoughts of water getting in my hair are not logical. Sometimes you really have to challenge yourself and say it out loud: "is this thought rational? could that really happen?" Most of the time, this brings your mind back to reality and you realize that you are worrying for no reason.

Talk your anxieties out loud. I have noticed a lot of the time when I phone my dad or a friend with an anxiety problem, once I hear myself say it out loud I can hear how ridiculous the fear actually is. So, try it next time you are worrying about something, say it out loud to yourself a few times. You’ll tend to see that the mind can take us on wild thought processes and a lot of time aren't even logical.

Another strategy is eliminating the “what if” thoughts. A lot of the time, when I get an anxiety in my head, it’s not very clear. What I mean by this is, I'll start to worry about something, not even knowing if it has even happened. So it goes this; I am worried that my hair touched an object.
Now I am worried that it’s going to make me sick. BUT HOLD ON, I don't know if my hair touched it for sure. What if it did? Using “what if” means that you don't even know if you are worrying about anything in the first place! If you have to say "what if _______ happened" then ifs time to step back, re-assess the situation and determine if what you are thinking about is even possible.

A  new trick I just learned today is to challenge the "what ifs" by saying “what if __________ happened?” SO WHAT?" Ask yourself “So what?” You don't know what is going to happen in the future so why worry about it? Yeah, I touched that door handle. What if someone with dirty hands touched it before me? “SO WHAT?” by saying “SO WHAT?” you are taking control of your thoughts and taking a stand against anxiety.

Something that also works for me is thinking about situations and how other people handle them, as opposed to how I handle them. A good example: today I got out of my dad's car and brushed up against some bushes that were wet. My mind started racing immediately. What if there was bird poop on the bush?" "can I wear these shorts again?" etc. I stopped and thought "no one else would have these worries about water from a bush. No one else would even think twice about it, even though my anxiety was setting off alarm bells in my head. You have to be real with yourself and realize things like for example; thousands of people ride the bus each day and don't get sick. Thousands of people have touched that door handle and do not get sick. So, try it next time you get an anxiety, think about how someone else would handle it. Most people wouldn't think twice about the stuff that I worry about!

Challenge yourself. Try entering an uncomfortable situation and see how it makes you feel. Over the past few years of public speaking, I have had to go in many places that really have made me uncomfortable. I go to high schools and must touch door handles, papers, water bottles and eat my lunch. All these things bring me anxiety. But the amazing thing is how far I have come by exposing myself to these uncomfortable situations. So yeah, open that door. Handle that sandwich as you eat it. Touch those papers that someone else just touched. By challenging yourself, you see yourself begin to grow and progress with your anxiety. I have made leaps and bounds with my anxiety this way.

We cannot read the future. We cannot look forward and know if we are going to get sick. Worrying is a complete waste of time. We can worry all we want, but we are not going to change the future by worrying. Take it from someone who knows how crippling anxiety is: get out there, live your life. Don't let your anxiety control your days. Take chances. Challenge yourself. Most of all, be positive! There is such a huge world out there in front of us. Worrying is just a waste of time. Enjoy life.