What Are Panic Attacks?

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A panic attack is one of the most distressing conditions that people suffer from today – according to an official report. It causes physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, chest pains, difficulty breathing and numbness. The mental effects include feeling afraid for no reason though they might be caused by thinking about past events or worries about what’s happening now. They may also be triggered by certain situations – like crowds or driving – or they might occur without any obvious cause at all.

A panic attack is overwhelming anxiety that leaves you feeling out of control.

Symptoms include your heart racing, chest pain, difficulty breathing, numbness or tingling in the face and hands, dizziness, hot flashes, chills, cold sweats.

What Triggers A Panic Attack?

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Panic attacks can be triggered by specific situations or events once they happen though it’s often hard to tell if something triggered the attack or if it came from nowhere. That’s because during a panic attack, your brain releases norepinephrine – sometimes called the fight-or-flight hormone – which surges through your body and floods your nervous system causing physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath while mentally you are feeling afraid.

Can a Panic Attack Lead to Other Problems?

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In rare cases, panic attacks can lead to agoraphobia, which is an intense fear of being out in public places where you might have a panic attack. Agoraphobia can make it hard for people to go outside their homes alone. In some cases, panic disorder leads to depression. In fact, 20% of people who have had one panic attack will end up developing another anxiety disorder within six months.

How Is A Panic Disorder Diagnosed?

To be diagnosed with panic disorder, you must experience unexpected panic attacks, and at least one of the episodes must cause concern or worry for at least a month. Some people are afraid of leaving their houses because they are afraid of having another panic attack.

Photo by Valeria Ushakova on Pexels.com

How can I get help for Panic Attacks?

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Panic disorder is generally first treated with medications that may include anti-anxiety drugs or antidepressants. Other treatments include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which involves counselling by a therapist on how to change your thinking patterns and behaviour, relaxation techniques, hypnosis, meditation, exercise and acupuncture.

Is A Panic Attack The Same As A Burnout?

A panic attack can feel like a total mental and physical breakdown. It leaves you feeling weak, shaky, lightheaded, fatigued and often short of breath. The symptoms are so severe that they force you to make drastic changes in your life to avoid the symptoms occurring again. For example, it may mean avoiding certain activities or places where you might have had an attack in the past.

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The symptoms of burnout include exhaustion, confusion, lethargy, apathy (a lack of interest), memory problems and difficulties concentrating. But a panic attack is not a burnout – though many people who feel overwhelmed by stress do suffer from them both at some point.

Burnouts are often brought on by long periods of high stress. And they happen when you have pushed your mind and body to the limit, usually because of work-related reasons. Burnout can result in anxiety, depression or even suicide, but not panic attacks.

In Closing

The good news is panic attacks are treatable without medication, but it’s important to talk to your doctor or therapist so they can help you get the right treatment.

I am Autistic and I prefer structure

Do you know how to make a person with autism comfortable? Give them structure.

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When I am uncomfortable, stressed, overstimulated, or upset, the only thing that helps is having a very specific schedule. If there is a fire drill or another unexpected disruption in my schedule – no matter what it is – I get extremely agitated and might even have a meltdown. I need everything at certain times for certain amounts of time. Having this will reduce anxiety and allow me to function better if things happen that are not expected.

So here’s my advice: get rid of clutter! Clutter contributes to sensory overload, which leads to meltdowns. In one of my previous blog posts, I discussed the feeling of being overwhelmed by different sensations all at once and how this leads to anxiety and stress. If your loved one with autism has a meltdown and it happens in your home, the first thing you need to do is clean up clutter! They will be so overwhelmed by seeing everything disorganized that they might have been able to deal with their feelings before, but now suddenly, it’s too much for them. By cleaning up after a meltdown, you are reducing sensory stimuli, giving them something new to focus on, and creating a less overwhelming environment for them – all of which helps reduce future meltdowns or at least prevents smaller ones from escalating into bigger ones.

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It also works the other way around: if I notice that my loved ones are having a rough time emotionally or feel overloaded, I remind them about their schedule and encourage them to stick to it as much as possible. This helps reduce stress for them, and I feel like it is the least I can do if they are supporting me in any way.

So be as organized as you can because you never know when a loved one with autism will need your guidance! And don’t forget that people with autism have emotions just like everyone else – we have good days and bad days. They might not always want or ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t really need it. Give us a chance to show how strong we actually are by being there for us emotionally whenever we need someone. We love hugs, kisses, cuddles, kind words – all of those things tell us that someone cares. The world is overwhelming enough already, so if you can make it a little bit easier for us, do!

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I know it might be hard to remember all of this in the beginning – trust me, I understand how difficult it can be to learn or think about something like this! But take your time and remember that even though people with autism may seem like they are perfect at coping with everything life throws their way, they actually need help sometimes. So don’t be afraid to step up and try out some new strategies or approaches that will work best for you and your loved one!

“But wait…” you might say. “How am I supposed to know what my loved one needs? What if I can’t tell that they’re overwhelmed or overstimulated?”

The good news is that I have a very simple solution for this problem, and it’s even something you can do yourself! The answer you’re looking for is structure.

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Take a day where everything has to happen at the same time – your loved one with autism isn’t allowed to shift anything around. If they need to take a bath between 3:00-3:10, make them take it on the dot – if necessary, set an alarm clock right next to them, so they know exactly when it’s time. Give them only 15 minutes after breakfast to play with their favourite toy and then give it back – no negotiating! And most importantly: don’t let them create any new rules or expectations! Make sure that they have a schedule written down and follow it as close as possible.

At first, they might even hate you for taking away their freedom to make new plans – but with time, your loved one will learn that this is how life works sometimes. This is the only way to reduce anxiety related to unpredictability and prepare them for situations where things don’t always go according to plan. And let me tell you from my own experience: a little bit of structure goes a long way. It helps us feel more relaxed and secure, which ultimately leads to everyone being happier.

“So there you go,” you say, “you just told me how I can help someone with autism! Now, what about the other way around?”

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Well, if your loved one with autism helps you to be more organized and gives you that sense of security that comes from knowing that there is a plan in place for everything without having to think about it all the time. Well, don’t tell them I said this, but they might make an excellent assistant.

Being in charge of keeping track of their schedule in addition to yours (or maybe even instead of yours) sounds like quite the task. But think about it: when do you feel most overwhelmed or tired? And when are things easiest for you – do certain people’s company help with your mood? If so, then that is the time you should try to use your help the most. Work together to make sure all of your plans will be met, and both of your needs can be fulfilled!

You might worry about how much all this structure might cost: “Will I have to change my entire life around?” or “Where will we sit at lunch? Will we always eat at the same time now?”. Don’t worry – as long as you’re helping without making too many sacrifices for it, there isn’t really anything wrong with combining schedules! I know that sounds like a contradiction, but keep in mind that everyone involved has probably been feeling overwhelmed by chaotic situations (for example: working retail or waiting tables where everything constantly changes – not to mention any job where clients change their minds every five seconds) for a good reason. The person with autism might not have been able to tell you why, but perhaps now you can understand the need they have for predictability and order – sometimes even more so than other people! So let them help out whenever possible – it will also help to learn about your personal limits when it comes to schedules.

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Of course, there are always exceptions. Sometimes, thanks to sensory issues or another mental disability, your loved one just won’t be able to take on that responsibility right away. Or maybe they simply don’t want something that difficult in their life right now (it’s unlikely this would happen if they’re grown adults but still). You should not feel pressured into taking up this task if you don’t want to – I have heard horror stories about people being obsessed with controlling every aspect of their loved one’s life, and that is definitely not worth it.

The goal here is to make everyone’s lives easier. So an exception is fine, as long as it doesn’t undermine the point of trying out this new routine in the first place (for example, “I’m sorry but my daughter is sick today, let me know if there are any changes”). Just because your loved one’s comfort means a little more to you than anyone else’s does not mean you should be willing to make huge sacrifices for them at any time! You wouldn’t like it if they did that! (And they will most likely feel bad for having asked in the first place if you let them down.)

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Don’t underestimate the importance of this structure once you have it. You would not believe how many times I have heard about someone with autism being late to an appointment by even just ten minutes, simply because they forgot what time it was or got distracted. And then their friends are upset that they ignored them all day after promising they’d come over! Now obviously, your loved one is not doing that on purpose – but if something so small can cause so much trouble, imagine how nice it will be to avoid those situations in the future by doing things at scheduled times instead of whenever works for you and not everyone else. Besides, your friend will still appreciate the fact that you care enough to show up at all!

(If you’re hearing about all of this and wondering why your loved one’s caretakers didn’t mention any of it before, don’t worry! Usually, people with autism will realize that their behaviour is inconvenient to those around them as they grow older. And like anyone else, they should be able to learn whatever skills they need on their own.)

So how should we make sure we can talk about these issues?

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First off: Patience. Second: Be Clear. If the person you’re talking to isn’t understanding something or really doesn’t want to cooperate (in which case: “You don’t have to do anything I ask!”), then let them know that. Don’t just ignore it because you think you know better! That’s actually the worst thing you can do.

Don’t hesitate to talk about I am Autistic, especially if it’s relevant! It might seem strange at first, but your loved one might be relieved that you don’t just think of them as “your friend.” And remember, none of this is anybody’s fault – everyone does their best with what they have. So let’s all make this easier for each other by learning how to work together.

The Impact Of Social Media On Mental Health

Social media today has become one of the most popular means of communication, socializing and acquiring knowledge in our lives. However, because its popularity in our society is continuously rising, the negative impacts that come with it also increase in number.

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There are many studies out there that prove how much time we spend every day glued to our screens (smartphone, laptop or tablet); this is becoming a problem for many people around the world. The need to be constantly connected can make us feel unworthy without receiving likes on every single photo we upload or even neglecting other duties like brushing our teeth, among others, because we don’t have time due to excessive use of these platforms.

This continuous urge to stay online more often than not brings consequences that we barely notice, such as:

-Excessive use of these platforms can be a gateway to depression and anger. Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram make it easy to compare our lives with others by granting access to our daily lives. This continuous comparison is not only stressful but also dangerous because it brings feelings like envy and sadness to us.

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-Another consequence that social media has on the general public is its negative influence on mental health; studies show that increased involvement in social networks is associated with symptoms of anxiety.

These consequences may seem harmless for adults at first; however, the same effects cause teenagers who are more sensitive than ever to suffer from this kind of addiction. The mental state of teenagers is very fragile, and social media can have three major negative impacts on the life of these young people:

-Social media increases feelings of inadequacy in teens.
This harmful habit, when used excessively, has been linked with depression, anxiety and low self-esteem in adolescents.

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-Excessive use of social media makes it difficult to establish real friendships.
Teens are increasingly using these platforms as a replacement for face-to-face interactions, which are known to help us grow socially. These behaviours present in many cases effects like isolation, loneliness and jeopardize students’ performance at school.

-The third consequence that social media brings to teenagers is sleeping disorders.
The use of electronic devices before going to bed, especially smartphones, can interfere with the natural sleep cycles, disrupting our biological clock.

Social Media Abnormal Usage Increases Anxiety And Depression

Studies show that excessive use of these platforms has an influence on mental health, specifically increasing feelings like depression and anxiety in people who are hooked.

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This constant need for likes or comments not only makes us feel obligated to be constantly connected but also generates stress when we don’t get what we expect.

This kind of behaviour triggers chemical changes in our brain, which affects serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation.

The impact of social media on mental health has been widely studied, and many types of research have shown the negative effects that this continuous use can bring to our lives, especially to teenagers.

In scientific terms, teenagers are classified as individuals from ages 13 to 18 years old, who usually need a bit more sleep than adults due to their biological clock, a phase in which self-esteem is very fragile and peer influence is excessively stronger. This means that social media addiction can harm this important stage in life, increasing feelings like loneliness, bringing problems with sleeping patterns or disrupting performance at school, among other things.

While the problem remains unsolved for all age groups, it’s crucial we become aware of these consequences so we can act to prevent them. We must encourage our children to use technology in a healthy way, making sure there is a balance between their online and offline lives.

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Some studies suggest that getting involved with social media excessively causes more harm than good, especially for teenagers who are already struggling with self-esteem issues due to the constant comparison with “perfect” people on these platforms. It is important we make them aware of this unhealthy behaviour, finding the right time to discuss it without overwhelming them with more information or taking away their digital identities entirely.

The bottom line remains: Social media is neither bad nor good, but the habits you establish while using it is what makes the difference.

10 Tips on how to prevent Burnout

    It’s no secret that many people burn out

    We do so much and we give so much of ourselves to the things that we care about, yet when it comes time for us to be given our reward or when we look back on what we’ve done, nobody knows who we are. Nobody cares, and often times even worse, they don’t even notice what it is that we’ve done.

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    However, the reward of feeling like you’re making a difference in this world is often enough to keep us going. If you want to continue doing things that are meaningful or if you simply want to avoid getting burned out, here are some things that may help:

    1. Take a break

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    If you’ve been working on a project for a few hours, take a small break and come back to it after 5-10 minutes. Often times when we get stuck or have some sort of problem that causes resistance in our work, stepping away from the situation for just five minutes can be enough to allow us to come at it from a fresh perspective and find a solution.

    2. Make a list of three things that you’re grateful for before going to bed each night

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    The more we focus on all the negative things in our lives, the less energy we have to put into our work or the tasks that matter most. By taking just a few minutes each night before going to bed, we can force ourselves to see that there are good things in our lives. At the very least, if nothing else, making a list of three things that you’re grateful for will push negativity out of your mind for at least a little while.

    3. Change your environment

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    If you’ve been doing the same thing for too long, change your environment before you go crazy. Sometimes it’s enough to simply move locations, whether this means getting up and walking across the room or going all-out by moving into a new house or apartment.

    Try to look for something that will allow you to see life from a different perspective. If there are certain people who are affecting you negatively, try spending time with different friends. If you’ve been working the same job for too long, try taking on a new project or learning something entirely new that does not involve your previous work.

    4. Do something that scares you

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    Instead of focusing all your energy into one thing, like climbing a mountain or learning a new instrument, focus it into a dozen or so different things. By doing this, there is far less risk that you will burn out because you are constantly learning new things and exploring new territory without focusing all of your energy into one thing at a time.

    5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or delegate tasks

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    If you’re an entrepreneur, don’t be afraid to pay for some help. If you’ve been doing the same tasks over and over again, chances are that somebody out there has already created a way to do it better than you can yourself. Just because you’re trying to save money doesn’t mean that you can’t hire somebody else to do some of these tasks.

    6. Enjoy your down time

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    People burn out because they spend too much of their time working and not enough of it relaxing. Don’t fall into this trap. Make sure you spend at least some time every week doing something completely unrelated to your work, whether this means reading a book, watching some TV or even just taking a walk around the neighborhood. If you spend enough time doing this, you’ll be able to come back to your work refreshed and ready to tackle it with new vigor.

    7. Stop trying to multitask

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    If you’re constantly checking your email while working on another project, chances are that you’ll end up getting far less done than if you were simply focusing all of your attention on just one task. While there are some people who can successfully multitask, most find that they get far more done when they simply focus all their attention onto one thing at a time.

    8. Take regular breaks throughout the day

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    It’s normal for us to take frequent breaks while working on something or even watching TV, but most of us fail to realize that taking breaks while working is just as important. Without regular breaks, your mind will become tired and you’ll be more likely to make mistakes.

    9. Remember that there’s only so much you can do in one day

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    It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we look at how much work we have left to do. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, remind yourself that there’s only so many hours in one day and you can only get done what you’re capable of getting done.

    10. Learn how to say “no”

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    There are few things more effective for preventing burnout than simply learning how to say “no”. Without this ability, you’ll find yourself constantly taking on one project after another and, before you know it, your work will begin piling up to the point where you can no longer handle everything. Don’t be afraid to turn down a project if it’s going to cause you to overwork yourself or if it isn’t going well.

10 Common mistakes that many people who struggle with Anxiety make

“How can I feel less anxious? When you ask yourself this question, what do you think of first? Do you consider all the ways anxiety affects your life, both negatively and positively? Or do you immediately go to all the things that make you anxious — people, places, situations, thoughts about the future?”

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If these are your thoughts when thinking about feeling less anxious (and if they’re not, read the article anyway), then according to therapist Juliann Schaeffer, “you aren’t alone.” After asking herself how she could address her own anxiety issues successfully long ago (when she was first working as a therapist), Schaeffer realized there were ten common mistakes that many people who struggle with anxiety make. If any of these sounds like you, she says, “then you will want to read on.”

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I know that sometimes I don’t allow myself to take a break from thinking about anxious thoughts. When I do this, Schaeffer writes, “You stay busy and active in order to keep your anxiety at bay.”

However: “It’s like holding a beach ball underwater; the harder we push down on it, the more forceful the natural buoyancy of it wants to be, and eventually we can’t hold it under any longer, and it pops back up again even stronger than before.”

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The first common mistake people with anxiety make is pushing away anxious feelings (and as mentioned above, those who struggle with anxiety often do this). Not only does pushing those feelings away make them stronger, but “When we push our feelings away or hold on very tightly to an anxious thought, we set ourselves up for a harder relapse in the future.”

On the other hand: “If we can learn to notice and feel the anxiety (being mindful) but then not change our behavior based on its presence, then we will find that eventually, those anxious thoughts lose their power over us. The more neutral you can be with your anxious thoughts and feelings, the easier it is to let go of their control.”

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Accepting your anxiety as something normal and healthy and allowing yourself to feel it without acting upon it might not be easy at first.

However: “The more you practice mindfulness, the easier this becomes… When you accept your anxiety as a part of you, as something that is always going to be there but not the only thing about you, then it becomes easier for those anxious, intrusive thoughts and feelings to move through. The less we fear our anxiety, the faster we can become free from its bondage.”

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The second common mistake people with anxiety make is “trying hard” to feel less anxious. This might mean:
“Working long hours and sacrificing all other areas of your life just so you don’t have to experience anxiety feelings ever again. This actually causes more distress because we take on even more than we can handle and then inevitably crash and burn. Remember, pushing away anxious thoughts makes them stronger! We need balance in our lives.”

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As a result of acting this way, Schaeffer says you might feel more anxious than ever. It’s also important to understand that “Anxiety is not our enemy; it’s actually trying to help us!”
“It’s there to let us know when we are about to make a mistake or take on too much. We need anxiety in order to live life at all. Sometimes the only difference between people who can handle their anxiety and people who get paralyzed by it is simply the willingness to slow down just long enough for their anxiety to catch up.”

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The third common mistake people with anxiety make is avoiding anxious feelings (and this often results in numbing themselves).

This means:
“You outsource your coping skills… You keep your anxiety hidden and tucked away, and then you start to lose touch with who you really are. You no longer know what you like or how to make decisions for yourself, and this can even start to influence your relationships outside of anxiety as well.”

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The problem here is that “you think avoidance will keep the anxiety under control, but in fact, it does just the opposite .” You might feel better for a short time right after acting against anxious feelings (by avoiding them), however:
“Anxiety always wins. It never goes away. If we don’t allow ourselves to feel the anxiety fully, instead choosing only short-term relief over long-term freedom within our brains, then we set ourselves up for a bigger fall at a later date.”

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Schaeffer then suggests allowing yourself to feel anxious without acting upon it, which might be hard at first. She says that “if you can learn not to act according to your anxious feelings in small matters, in the long run, you will see the huge benefit in your general anxiety levels.”

The fourth common mistake people with anxiety make is attaching themselves to unhealthy perfectionism. This means: “You base your entire sense of self on performance, and so any mistakes or setbacks you have… cause a spiral of shame and further avoidance.”
This leads Schaeffer to say it leads to a feeling of being behind, even if we have nothing going on externally. We become our own worst enemy because we are constantly attacking ourselves for not being able to keep up instead of being compassionate and patient with ourselves.

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The fifth common mistake people with anxiety make is not wanting to feel vulnerable. This means: “You shy away from anything that might break you open because all you have been taught is that when we are broken open, it’s better to be closed off.”

However, Schaeffer argues that vulnerability is a key part of healing our anxiety: “When we learn the skills necessary to allow ourselves to be vulnerable in healthy ways, we can greatly reduce our overall anxiety levels.”

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“Once you release the urge to stay strong and in control within your own mind at all times… You will begin to see a huge shift in both your emotions and behavior.”

The sixth common mistake people with anxiety make is that they put their expectations on themselves and then pressure themselves to meet them. This means: “You wait for something magical to happen before you allow yourself to have what you really want, but the truth is that magic doesn’t just come from nowhere.”

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The problem here is that “life has a funny way of humbling us when we least expect it. If we are holding our breath for some fantasy future where everything’s perfect, it’s easy to feel like we’re missing out on life as it happens right in front of us.”

Instead, Schaeffer suggests focusing more on small moments of everyday living because doing this will make anxiety less important in your life. She says: “When you take the focus off needing success or happiness to be a certain way, you become lighter and happier.”

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The seventh common mistake people with anxiety make is holding onto the belief that they have to be constantly productive. This means: “It’s easy to lose perspective on what it means to actually give ourselves space for rest and recovery because we’re so wrapped up in needing to achieve more things for the sake of achievement itself, rather than for how it makes us feel.”

In real life, though, “we all take time out from productivity. Bodies need rest. Minds need breaks. And souls need nourishment. Believe me when I say this: When your mind is constantly racing without any release, you will eventually crash emotionally and physically.”
Schaeffer recommends setting aside time to rest and recover, as we all need to do this. She says: “By allowing yourself some time out from productivity, you give your mind a break it so desperately needs.”

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The eighth common mistake people with anxiety make is not accepting their limitations. This means: “As you constantly strive for more and better, you can’t see that there are more than enough opportunities for growth available in your own life right now. So, instead of making changes within your current situation, you constantly push those boundaries because you feel like what’s happening isn’t good enough.”

Schaeffer argues that constantly striving for improvement will never feel like enough because it will always leave us feeling empty: “When we stop looking beyond ourselves for happiness or success … we finally allow ourselves to start looking for happiness and success within.”

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She suggests focusing on improving yourself in your current situation rather than always thinking about the next thing. Schaeffer says: “I encourage you to embrace one of my favorite sayings: ‘Good enough is good enough.”

The ninth common mistake people with anxiety make is not allowing their feelings to have a voice. This means: “When you are constantly forcing yourself forward, putting off what’s important for who knows how long, it can be easy to feel lost or lonely at times because you aren’t being true to yourself.”

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Schaeffer argues that following our feelings will lead us on more fulfilling paths: “If we only listen to those thoughts which tell us we’re not good enough, we miss out on the wellbeing that comes from listening to our inner guidance.”

She encourages us to start following our feelings again, saying: “I know it can feel scary or overwhelming to take this leap into something that looks too much like what you’ve tried before. But let me assure you. The more you follow your heart, the happier and calmer you will be – Every time.”

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The tenth common mistake people with anxiety make is not accepting where they are at in their lives. This means: “When anxiety takes over your life completely, it’s easy to put off living life as it currently stands … You think that there will come a day when everything finally clicks into place. And then, magically, all your problems will melt away.”

Schaeffer argues that putting things off just gets us further from our goals: “The longer you wait, the more your anxiety will build … Putting life on hold isn’t living. It’s just avoiding the pain you’re afraid to feel deep down inside.”

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She encourages us to start living in the moment, not waiting for everything in our lives to be perfect in order to enjoy ourselves: “I want you to understand this right now… You are enough. You always have been, and you always will be.”

These are all common mistakes people with anxiety make, although they might not realize it at the time. Remembering these mistakes could help put an end to negative thinking associated with anxiety. There are also some simple steps you can take to prevent anxiety.