Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank
One of the worst things to have as a writer is an anxiety disorder. It can lead to a myriad of physical problems while making you less effective and productive. So, what can you do when your heart starts to palpitate and the adrenaline begins to rush?
That really depends on the writer. However, there are several things you can do today to start reeling in those feelings of dread.
Today, I’ll talk about ways you can adjust to this problem and give yourself a chance to write some amazing content.
Don’t get me wrong, you can have anxiety for any number of reasons. But today, I’m approaching it from the perspective of a write, blogger, or novelist.
In fact, many of the ways to address anxiety as a writer work to address it in any other fashion.
How an Anxiety Disorder Hinders a Writer
Anxiety can strike at any moment depending on circumstance. It’s the level at which it escalates is when it becomes a disorder.
For example, anxiety is often the cause of “cold feet” at a wedding. In many of these instances, it’s a short-lived nervous reaction to a situation.
Unfortunately, it can also become a life-long problem that takes away from your accomplishments.
Not Feeling Good Enough to Write
One element of an anxiety disorder often relates to impostor syndrome. This is when you don’t believe you’re good enough for the success you seek, even if there is a mound of evidence to the contrary.
When the anxiety kicks in, it can be nerve-wracking, and the writer could sink into an abyss of never feeling good enough to put stories or content out there in the world.
Not Taking Chances to Advance as a Writer
Anxiety can also take away any chance of being successful. Especially if you don’t feel comfortable enough to take chances, such as offering your manuscript to a publisher or agent.
The end result could be a computer hard drive full of half-written stories that you simply don’t feel comfortable enough to submit. This can lead to depression and a myriad of other mental states.
Second-Guessing Your Content
What if you spend time writing what you thought was the perfect blog post? All of the sudden, you start second-guessing the topic and content. Do you publish the article anyway or trash it and start another?
That really depends on what is driving that second guess in the first place. And in a lot of cases, it’s the feeling of anxiousness that prompts a blogger to hit delete.
Never Finishing a Project
When you’re overly anxious about a project, it may lead to never finishing. This could be caused by not believing it’s good enough or that you’re nervous about being rejected by a publisher or client.
This leads to never really exploring your potential as a creator in any regard.
9 Ways to Address an Anxiety Disorder as a Writer
In reality, there’s no real difference between dealing with anxiety as a writer and doing so for any other aspect of life. From dating to losing weight, anxiety can happen to anyone for any reason.
However, the methods below are some of the ways I deal with an anxiety disorder as a creator.
1. Deep Breathing Exercises
Deep breathing has been found to alleviate all kinds of stress. The way you take in oxygen can directly affect how your body reacts to various hormones and instabilities.
I know in many stressful moments, a few deep and controlled breaths made all the difference in how I approached and dealt with problems.
Of course, this also greatly depends on the nature and intensity of the anxiety. Yet, breathing exercises are a good place to start because they don’t take much effort.
You can do them right now sitting at your desk.
2. Going for a Walk or Exercising
Physical activity can reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. It’s one of the reasons why a lot of therapists will prescribe workouts instead of medication.
That’s because, in a lot of cases, exercise is more effective without worrying about side effects.
Personally, I feel far better mentally after a grueling 30-minute workout. Another way I address anxiety is by walking at a fast pace for more than 20 minutes.
It’s all about getting the heart rate up.
3. Meditate About the Situation
If you’re worried about a blog post, story, or client project, take a few moments to meditate. In reality, meditation is an easy method to reduce stress and anxiety.
The best part is that you really don’t need much to properly meditate. In fact, it’s one of the easiest things you can do to help yourself feel better.
I meditate on a regular basis, actually. I’ll either do so in my room on the floor or sometimes I’ll do it in the shower with the lights off. To be honest, there’s really no right or wrong way to meditate, as long as you get results.
4. Examine Your Thought Processes
As a writer, your imagination can play havoc on your mental state. That’s because most writers are more inclined to explore all possibilities at a rapid pace, whether it’s fiction or reality.
In other words, a writer’s imagination can be the most powerful tool or the most ruthless of enemies.
Take a few moments and really examine the situation. Is there justification in the real world for you to feel the way you do? Or, is it your imagination beating you to a pulp?
This is probably one of the most difficult for anyone with an anxiety disorder. Because your mind will continue to throw all kinds of scenarios at you even if you’ve already established there’s no reason to feel the way you do.
5. Journaling to Help an Anxiety Disorder
Another method that therapists will prescribe to handle various mental issues is journaling. This is when you put your thoughts to paper and work them out as you write.
In reality, there are a lot of benefits to journaling from clearing your mind to providing affirmations that can inspire you to do better.
Personally, I have a few different journaling methods. I’ll either blog, use an actual paper journal, or use my “fitness” journal for my weight loss journey.
And yes, I’ve found writing in a journal of some kind to be of great benefit!
6. Some Foods Can Help and Hinder an Anxiety Disorder
So, what if you’ve tried everything and you’re still plagued by anxiety? Did you know food can increase stress? Your diet can do all kinds of things beyond the physical.
On the flip side, there are also foods to reduce anxiety you can try.
Before you worry yourself too much, use an app like MyFitnessPal to track your food intake. Then, see if there is a correlation between how you feel now and what you’ve eaten recently.
I actually use MyFitnessPal quite a bit for a variety of purposes. This includes identifying foods that increase my stress and depression levels.
7. Never Underestimate Aroma Therapy
Aromatherapy isn’t just some new age, holistic medical treatment. In fact, scents can do an incredible amount from a mental perspective.
Think about it; how often does a smell catch your nose and you instantly think of something from your past? Scents can and will influence your mental state.
There are several ways you can use aromatherapy to your advantage as a writer. The trick is to find the ones that work best to alleviate your anxiety.
8. Understanding Anxiety Disorder Triggers
Being able to identify your triggers can greatly help you address stress before it even starts. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most difficult to accomplish.
Anxiety can be triggered by just about anything, really. Scents, tastes, conversations, and even room temperature can cause an episode.
But if you can discover your triggers, you can avoid those situations before they become debilitating.
9. Seek Professional Help
There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional help if you struggle with an anxiety disorder. Being able to talk to a therapist, work through issues, or even receive proper medication can make all the difference in how you feel.
Speaking with a licensed professional could ultimately lead to greater success, an improved lifestyle, and making more money because you can handle the pressure as a writer.
And technology today means that you don’t even have to leave your house to speak to someone.
And before you ask, no, this isn’t an affiliate link or sponsored post. I just want you to find good help.
What Can Trigger a Writer’s Anxiety Disorder?
Identifying triggers can be a painstaking adventure. And it really depends on everyone’s unique experiences. Not to mention that anxiety can strike any time and anywhere.
Consider this…I am having a severe anxiety attack as I write this blog post. Though, it’s related to something completely separate from writing.
So, what can trigger feeling overwhelmed by anxiousness?
Past Experiences Resurfacing
One of the more pronounced triggers is that of a past experience seeming all too familiar today. In fact, that’s kind of what is triggering me at this very moment.
Something that happened in the past can easily lead to negative thoughts about the present. The hardest part is understanding that situations have changed. Even though it feels familiar doesn’t mean it will end the same.
The feeling of Deja Vu is just that…a feeling. Use what you’ve learned since the first episode to avoid the same circumstances from unfolding.
Family Genetics Promote Anxiety Disorder
For some, anxiousness may be more attributed to family genetics. In fact, past research links genetics to a variety of disorders, such as panic attacks and phobias.
However, you may still want to identify if there are other triggers at play. Not everyone has the exact same genetic structure.
Side Effects of Certain Medications
Another trigger you may want to consider is how some medications may cause anxiety. Of course, this isn’t the medication’s actual purpose. No manufacturer sets out to purposely make you feel bad.
Before you worry about giving up writing or blame genetics, make sure you’re not simply suffering from side effects. It’s an easy enough fix that can alleviate all kinds of stress.
A therapist can help with this part.
Other Mental Illnesses
Another trigger, one of which I’m often prone to myself, is the extent of other mental illnesses. For instance, depression and anxiety often happen together.
This is when having professional help comes in handy. A therapist can help you address the mental illnesses that plague your existence as a writer.
Your Mental Health is More Important Than Writing
The state of your mind will influence everything in your life. If you’re suffering from an anxiety order from your writing, perhaps you should reconsider what it’s worth.
Before you give up, though, consider the options above. Because your stress could be simply linked to having too much caffeine today.
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