Tips for Facing The Unknown: How to Deal With Anxiety in 5 Simple Ways

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“Go on a run!” she said, gently pushing me toward the door.

I was telling Stacia about my unusually high level of anxiety over the past couple of days. Some days are easier than others, but the path from here to where I’m going has felt overwhelmingly unknown recently.

How to deal with anxiety is an ongoing conversation for me.

Taking risks, being vulnerable, opening yourself up, stepping into new territory, and crossing the threshold of the known into the unknown can bring with up more than your fair share of anxiety.

“This is supposed to be fun.” I tell myself all the time. The problem is that sometimes it isn’t. Pursuing work worth doing is hard and far from glamorous. It’s easy to get caught up feeling anxious about what’s to come and the risks involved.

I was feeling all of this, which is why Stacia was telling me to go for a run. I needed an extra push to leave my projects behind and take care of myself. So I ran. I ran fast and I ran hard. And it felt so good!

As I ran I was reminded of many things. I remembered what a privilege it is to be doing work that is so meaningful for me. I remembered of how beautiful summer is in Seattle. And I remembered how it feels to be in my body and have it moving.

Finding your life’s work requires you to bring more of who you are to the world.[tweet that]

That’s scary, no matter who you are. And that means you need to know how to handle your fear.

Everyone will have their own experience and best practices for dealing with fear and anxiety, but here are the things that I find most helpful. After you read them I’d love to hear what works for you in the comments:

1) People
Sometimes I just need to be with people. I need conversation and I need to know that there’s more going on in life than the things that I’m stuck in.

2) Play
It’s often difficult to play when i’m feeling very anxious, but when I’m able it shifts my internal state for the better. My dog is always ready to play, and I’m grateful to her for that.

3) Exercise
Getting myself moving and working hard takes me out of my head and into the present moment.

4) Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness, breathing, and meditation can be helpful to bring me back to the present. The goal of these exercises is to notice what you’re feeling more so than changing it, but I find that noticing often does bring some change to the feelings.

5) Scents
I have a small collection of essential oils and incense in my desk drawer that I find to be helpful to keep me in the present moment.

How about you? What’s your favorite way to deal with anxiety? How do you remind yourself that life can be fun when you don’t feel like it is? Share your thoughts in the comments.

(Photo by Lauren Rushing/CC)

Dan Cumberland is on a mission to push you into the places meaning, life, & work intersect. He is the author of The Meaning Manifesto. Read more about him here, and connect with him on facebook and twitter.

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