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The Best Advice My Mom Gave Me About Living With Anxiety

I Have Anxiety, but Because of This Lesson From My Mom, It No Longer Controls My Life

Lately, the world as we once knew it has changed, and with change often comes uncertainty. Uncertainty is not unfamiliar territory for me, but these past few months have still been challenging.

I've had anxiety for years now, and thanks to self-care and a solid support system, I've been able to manage it well. But like many others, I've experienced a lot of changes in my life during the pandemic, and sometimes I'm not sure how to process it all. When my thoughts spin out of control, I have to ground myself and remember the practices and rituals that have always helped bring me back to the present. There's one particular piece of advice from my mom that always stands out: no matter how much fear my anxiety may cause me to feel, I can't let it control my life.

My parents are Mexican immigrants, and regardless of how they were raised to think and talk about mental health, they've always been open about their struggles. My mom has also experienced anxiety, and this has brought us closer. When I first shared how I was feeling, she listened without judgment. I felt supported, and she assured me I wasn't alone. She encouraged me to go to therapy, we took walks together after work, and she offered tips that helped her better manage her own anxiety. My mom helped me realize that much of my anxiety was rooted in wanting to control aspects of my life that were simply out of my hands, when I should be focusing on what I can control.

Usually, the fear that's caused by my anxiety stems from purely hypothetical situations. Worrying about what may or may not happen has never proven to make my life easier. So, I try to prepare as best I can and then let it go. I remind myself that, while anxiety can be scary, it doesn't have to control my life. Of course, this is easier said than done. These words haven't magically cured me of all my anxiety, but they have gifted me with a new perspective. A perspective that has ultimately changed my life for the better.

Rather than fearing the worst, I accept that I will deal with whatever happens when it happens.
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It's often impossible to control the outcome of a situation, but I can choose how I respond to it. Rather than fearing the worst, I accept that I will deal with whatever happens when it happens. I say "no" when I don't want to do something, and I say "yes" to things that may frighten me, but also excite me. What may come is unknown, but I know there will always be some kind of lesson I can learn. Letting go of the fear has brought me some of the most memorable times of my life. This doesn't mean my anxiety disappears, but even with anxiety, I've been able to experience things I once only dreamed of.

My mom has shared a lot of her wisdom with me over the years, but not allowing fear to control my life, despite living with anxiety, is perhaps one of the most important things I've learned from her. It has made me more confident in the way I navigate the world, even in the most difficult times.

While my anxiety has been more present recently, it serves as a reminder to continue to care for myself and those around me. Although I may not be able to go out and do all the things I once did to relieve stress, it has motivated me to find new ways to de-stress, while remaining respectful of everybody's wellbeing. Life is still happening, and I choose to continue to enjoy it, without fear and with gratitude.

Image Source: Getty / Ingo Rösler
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