One of my go-to solutions for coping with my own anxiety is to watch YouTube videos by others in the online mental health community who give advice and talk about their own experiences. One such YouTuber (who I’ve blogged about before!) is Laura Lejeune.
In the above video, Laura talks a lot about her own struggles with anxiety recently and how that anxiety has been preventing her from uploading content to her YouTube channel which is problematic because for her, YouTube is part of her income. Personally, I can relate to this a lot considering my own anxiety about starting a new job and starting fresh in a new (read: unfamiliar and scary) environment with new people. And like Laura, I will have to find a way to overcome my anxiety because I need to have a job to pay my bills and help me pay my way through my Master’s degree starting in the fall.
In the video, Laura says “the more you stay away from something because it’s making you anxious, the more anxious you will be in the long run”. This may seem simple to those lucky souls out there who do not experience extreme anxiety, but for those of us who struggle with anxiety disorders, this is a tough pill to swallow. With that being said, Laura could not be more right. It might not be what we want to hear, but it’s true: the only way to get to the other side of your anxiety is to face it. We must face the thing which we want to avoid at all costs.
While this is a daunting and anxiety-provoking thought in and of itself, Laura goes on to say, “I survived…that’s the thing about anxiety; it’s not going to kill you”. So even though it might seem impossible to get through whatever it is that is causing you to feel anxiety, it’s important to realize that anxiety is not going to kill you. Sure, it’s uncomfortable and it will make you feel miserable and maybe even physically ill, but it won’t kill you. In fact, my therapist likes to remind me that anxiety causes our brains to overestimate the level of danger and underestimate our ability to cope in the face of adversity. So, even though it feels as though facing the challenges that lay ahead is impossible, it’s more than likely that your brain might be overestimating the level of distress that the situation will actually cause you.
The last point that I want to draw attention to is summed up nicely by Laura when she says “if you’re struggling with anything ask yourself ‘what’s the worst that can happen?'” When you do this, be sure to think carefully and realistically. As I mentioned previously, anxious thoughts can cause us to overestimate the level of risk involved in a situation. Therefore, when you’re thinking about the worst case scenario, it’s important to be realistic and not let your anxiety convince you that the worst that could happen is actually much worse than reality. I urge you to be cautious and practice self-awareness with this activity (perhaps think this over with your therapist or a close friend who can make sure you think realistically) because this could backfire if you allow the anxiety to take over. You don’t want to allow yourself to think about unrealistic situations that will perpetuate your fear and prevent you from facing the thing which is making you anxious in the first place. By thinking carefully about the worst that could happen you should be able to see that the actual risk involved is not that bad and therefore, you will be able to approach the situation more objectively and confidently even if you still have some anxiety.
Shout-out to Laura Lejeune for having the courage to face her fears and post this video. Not only has she taken a step to overcome her own anxiety, but she also provides some great pointers and words of advice for those of us who are facing similarly distressing anxiety. Check out the video and subscribe to her channel if you’re like me and you love learning about mental health and getting involved in the online mental health community!
Thanks for reading!