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As an anxiety blogger who has overcome an anxiety disorder, I often get asked “how I cured my anxiety”.
But people also ask me, questions such as
- Is anxiety curable?
- Can anxiety be cured completely? or
- Is anxiety permanent?
So, in this article I explain,
- Which type of anxiety is curable?
- What kind of anxiety I suffered from and what were my symptoms? and
- How I cured my anxiety?
My goal is to take you through my anxiety journey from start to finish, in the hope that you can apply my “anxiety cure success formula” to reduce, and manage, and maybe even overcome your anxiety condition.
Anxiety is a reaction to fear where your body activates the autonomic nervous system, also known as the fight-or-flight response, to help you stay alert. This is one of the body’s in-built mechanisms that serves to protect you in dangerous and highly stressful situations.
So, for example, if someone is chasing you, or you are running away from a bear, then it's normal and natural to feel anxious, and it can be even helpful.
But the point at which anxiety becomes a condition or a disorder, is when it starts to affect your life. If anxiety is negatively impacting your relationships, work, and daily tasks, then this can feel far from normal.
The reason this happens is because, people that struggle with anxiety tend to perceive normal life situations as threatening, and as the body cannot distinguish between real danger and what we perceive as threatening, it activates the flight-or-fight response in both cases. This is why anxiety sufferers can be anxious daily.
Anxiety conditions and disorders can be managed at the very least, and in some case even cured.
Taking all of the above into consideration, it is important to understand that even if you overcome your anxiety problems, you will still experience natural anxiety responses like everyone else, but anxiety will no longer control your life!
For example, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in my 20s, and while I have successfully cured this mental condition, I can still feel anxious sometimes. But anxiety no longer affects my daily life and my constant worries, nervousness, fear, and irritability have thankfully gone.
What Was My Anxiety Like?
My anxiety story is unique, just as is yours, but there are commonalities between most anxiety stories, and this is what we can learn from each other.
I am going to take you through my anxiety story and then I’ll extract the key points at the end to help you relate to this story.
The level of detail I have included below is necessary to help you understand the last section of this article “How I cured my anxiety?”.
What Caused My Anxiety?
My anxiety was caused by my childhood trauma. Starting at the age of nine and until I was 11, I lived through the war in Bosnia which was a very traumatic period of my life.
I was scared and nervous like everyone else from the very first shootings and bombings, but there was one particular event that imbedded abnormal levels of anxiety into my life.
In the summer of 1992, a bomb had hit our apartment building, and at that moment, I fell into a tornado of shock, panic, and fear. The whole building vibrated, most of the windows shattered, and the residents were running down the stairs, screaming and crying. I was trembling excessively and my bowels completely released.
More traumatic events happened for the next two years, but I can say with the utmost certainty that the particular event I’ve just described was the exact point in which my anxiety disorder started.
From then on and for the rest of the war, I experienced very high levels of anxiety which were constantly present!
How I Unknowingly Ignored Anxiety?
After the war my family and I moved to England. Although we escaped the shooting, my anxiety persisted.
But I didn’t mention anything to my parents because they had enough to deal with, and I didn't know I was suffering from anxiety. I thought my constant nervousness, fear, irritability, and worry – which are classic chronic anxiety symptoms – were normal given the circumstances and I accepted I would probably always feel like this.
Unfortunately, this meant that I didn't do anything about my anxiety but simply tried to ignore it. But when we ignore any symptom, it can only get worse.
In an ideal world, I would have seen a therapist to deal with my trauma and anxiety as soon as we came from the war.
How Anxiety Affected My Life?
My anxiety was worse when I was at school. I'd feel my heart pounding and the blood rushing to my head the moment I had to speak to any of the teachers or pupils, and I was like this for a while until I could speak some English.
How My Anxiety Became Worse?
My anxiety was bad at school but I also made it worse.
I didn't like that everyone referred to me as "the refugee", and so in my desperation to be known for something better, I became addicted to achieving and productivity. I was studying excessively and didn’t allow myself any fun. I put myself under lot of pressure to achieve and keep on achieving. This was slowly pushing my anxiety to higher levels.
By the time I went to University 7 years later, I’d become a ‘pro’ in obsessing to be the best. While this might sound like a good thing, it wasn’t, because I was chasing success while continuing to ignore my anxiety.
Additionally, I adopted an unhealthy lifestyle:
- Started eating unhealthily
- Drank a lot of alcohol
- Didn't exercise at all, and
- Got a job in a busy bar/nightclub which was not the healthiest environment.
My anxiety was getting worse and worse and by the time I finished University, it started to affect me heavily.
How I Decided to Take Action?
When I moved to London I continued with my unhealthy habits including
- striving for success at the cost of my health and anxiety, and
- living an unhealthy lifestyle.
But this resulted in my anxiety being pushed over the edge.
This was the point where I realized I can't ignore my symptoms anymore and that I have to take action.
What Were My Symptoms?
I had all the classic chronic anxiety symptoms which weighed on me like a ton, that only people who suffer from anxiety can relate to.
But to make things worse, anxiety was not my only concern. Over the years I also started accumulating many other health issues which overall made my mental health unbearable.
My Anxiety Symptoms
Nervousness, Restlessness, and Feeling Agitated
I felt like this all the time, and even in situations when I should have been comfortable in like sitting at home and watching the television.
I was in fear constantly. I feared to go to work, being at work, and doing my job. But I also feared calling a friend, going to a party, meeting with work colleagues, going on holiday with my family, or even calling a utility company.
I’d often find myself falling asleep in meetings, but also while watching movies. I just couldn’t concentrate.
worried daily about what others think of, what someone might say to me, and how I would react in every situation.
I was tired most of the time even after getting sleep and I didn’t have any motivation.
everyone would annoy me. I took everything personally and I’d feel irritable with most people, but on my own as well.
My muscles were very tight and I had very little physical flexibility. This inflexibility also replicated mentally on my state of mind. I was only willing to do things that I could fully control which was not a lot.
I couldn’t get to sleep most nights, and if I did, I’d always wake up in the middle of the night and stare at the ceiling until the morning which made me exhausted.
I often had panic attacks around social situations. I would panic at the thought of any event that I had been invited to.
Avoiding Social Situations
I didn’t feel comfortable anywhere and I had very bad social anxiety, so I used to cancel plans and make excuses constantly. Then I would spend the rest of the time feeling guilty that I didn’t go.
Increased Heart Rate
My heartbeat was often more than 120 beats per minute. (60 – 70 beats/minute is ideal. Someone who is very fit and healthy such as a trained athlete can even have a resting heart rate closer to 40 beats per minute.)
Dry mouth, shallow and fast breathing, and trembling
Mornings were the worst. I’d wake up every day with immense fear, apprehension, dry mouth, racing heart, and tight chest. But I’d also have these symptoms the moment I was out of my apartment.
I often experienced bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea.
I used to cry myself to sleep every night.
I was very insecure and I believed that I was not good enough for anything.
My Other Health Issues
- Low energy
- Cystic acne
- Joint pains
- Sleep Problems
As well as frequently occurring:
- Cold and flu symptoms
- Ovarian pain
- Severe premenstrual syndrome
- Swollen gums
- Low blood pressure
Your Anxiety Story
The following questions are key points within my anxiety story and I'm certain that you are going to relate to at least a few of these. These questions will also help you to think about your anxiety story which is right now the most important.
Your Anxiety Story
- When did your anxiety start? Early childhood or later in life?
- Was your anxiety caused by trauma or a difficult period/event in your life?
- Have you had therapy? / Do you need therapy? / Do you plan to have therapy?
- Did it take you some time to realize you are suffering from anxiety / anxiety disorder?
- Did you ignore your anxiety symptoms for a while before you went to see your doctor?
- Do you lack knowledge and understanding how to manage anxiety?
- Do you worry excessively about what people think of you?
- Do you obsess about being the best in some or all things in your life?
- Do you put yourself under a lot of pressure?
- Could you eat better and exercise more?
- Has your anxiety got worse over the years?
- Have you ignored your symptoms even after you were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder?
- Are you also suffering from depression, and or any other health issues?
- Have you reached a point where you can’t ignore your anxiety any longer?
- What are your anxiety symptoms?
How I Cured My Anxiety and How You Can Too?
I cured my anxiety in four stages as outlined below.
You can choose to do all of this simultaneously if you wish. But that is quite a lot to do, so you may want to move through your healing journey one step at a time, like I did.
Make sure you read everything in the pink boxes because this where I make my anxiety cure “relevant for you”!
1. Diagnosis and Therapy
I started my healing journey with a diagnosis and therapy.
During my 20s and while still living in London, one day I woke up with such bad anxiety that there was no way I could have gone to work. That morning I went to see my doctor and he diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and gave me medication for this. Also, he signed me off from work for two weeks.
During that time, I either slept or cried. But after the 14 days were up I decided to stop taking medication, go back to work and start seeing a therapist instead.
The good news was that the therapist that I started seeing was an incredible, gentle, and intelligent man, who was quiet, calm, and composed and helped me to feel safe to speak about my problems.
During all of our sessions together I spoke mainly about the war and he asked me very great questions which helped me with my childhood trauma.
The diagnosis at the start was a very important step because I then referred to this diagnosis when seeing other therapists and medical professionals for the duration of my healing journey which was very helpful. For that reason, I would recommend to anyone suffering from anxiety, to see their doctor first and then move forward from there.
I also believe that without therapy I wouldn’t have been able to move forward as coming to terms with what happened in the war was long overdue.
Please note that, I would not recommend to anyone to stop taking medication without consulting with a doctor. I should not have done this either, but the truth is I was in such a bad state that I didn't know what I was doing.
Do You Need Therapy?
Therapy was an essential step on my healing journey because at the time...
- My anxiety was unbearable
- I didn’t know any tools to manage my anxiety
- I couldn’t go to work anymore
- I was lost and didn’t know where to turn
- I needed to deal with my childhood trauma, and
- I thought about ending my life
Whether it is necessary for you very much depends on your anxiety, how it started, and how it impacts your life.
As a general rule…
- Therapy is necessary for trauma victims.
- Therapy can help you get into the right mindset to start your healing process.
- Therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help you identify negative thought patterns, and changing these can help you overcome anxiety.
- Therapy can help you speed up your healing process.
- But if you’re suffering from mild anxiety, you might want to start with lifestyle changes as discussed below, and then if that doesn’t work you can have therapy further down the line.
2. Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
The next step on my healing journey was to adopt a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle.
This step was transformational for my anxiety and overall health, and it also changed my life.
But what made me adopt a healthy lifestyle?
After finishing my therapy sessions, I visited a number of medical specialists about some of my worst physical symptoms. I was prescribed medications for several of my symptoms which I took for some time. But unfortunately, I didn’t see any improvements, and some of my symptoms even became worse.
Since I was also still struggling with anxiety and depression, I decided to start researching alternative healing.
This led me to an amazing phytotherapist* who helped me so much. After I explained to her all of my symptoms, she immediately said I had to adopt a healthy lifestyle. She also gave me some plant medicines.
After only a few months of taking these plant medicines, eating healthily, walking regularly, visiting parks at weekends, and practicing short meditations, I noticed an incredible difference in my anxiety and many other health issues. I was less anxious, had more energy, slept better, and was generally in a better mood. Plus, my acne had cleared up completely!
This inspired me to want to know everything about nutrition, and healthy living and I started to do a tremendous amount of research. As I learned about new healthy habits I would adopt them. For example, I started practicing yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, running, and much more.
Living healthily helped me to reduce and manage anxiety, overcome depression, get rid of acne, joint pains, migraines, swollen gums, and dizziness. I also managed to regulate my blood pressure, and boost energy.
Phytotherapy is a science-based medical practice and thus is distinguished from other, more traditional approaches, such as medical herbalism, which relies on an empirical appreciation of medicinal herbs and which is often linked to traditional knowledge. Britannica
How to Start Your Healthy Lifestyle?
I would recommend the following:
- Adopt an anti-anxiety diet
- Choose a form of exercise that you like and practice 3-5 times a week
- Practice relaxation daily or as often as you can i.e. yoga, meditation, listening to relaxing music, deep breathing
- Get fresh air daily
- Spend time in nature as often as possible
If you take away only one thing from this article then let it be this,
A healthy lifestyle is essential for your physical and mental health.
That means if you want to reduce, manage, and overcome anxiety, adopting a healthy lifestyle is absolutely necessary.
3. New Anti-Anxiety Beliefs
You’d be surprised how a couple of new beliefs can help you with your anxiety.
The following beliefs were instrumental in helping me cure my anxiety.
The first one is …
Anxiety is a signal
The moment I realized my anxiety is a signal, rather than an enemy, I stopped fighting my symptoms and instead began using them to help me overcome this mental condition.
I kept a detailed record of when my anxiety went up, down, was at its worst or best to help me eliminate or change the things that were making me anxious.
- I used my anxiety to create my perfect anti-anxiety diet.
- My anxiety helped me realize that I was more anxious if I talked negatively about people and so I started avoiding making any comments in negative conversions.
- I noticed that I felt a lot calmer on the days that I walked somewhere, and this inspired me to start walking wherever I could.
- Being out in nature was one of the best anti-anxiety medicines and I took every opportunity to do that as well.
The second belief is …
The Power is Within
I had spent most of my life taking the role of a victim, and this made me powerless.
But when I realized that the power is within me, and I’m the one who has the power to change my thoughts and my life, I became motivated. This is when I got very creative with my anxiety coping strategies and started to follow my own instinct rather than listen to what someone else thinks is good for me.
How to Introduce Anti-Anxiety Beliefs?
Anxiety is a Signal
Start to use your anxiety to help you overcome this mental condition. Pay attention to your anxiety when it goes up and down, and make a note of this daily, to help you create an anxiety-free life.
The Power is within You
You have the power to change how you feel. Other people can help you on your healing journey but you are the one who’s in power of you and who decides if you are going to adopt any of the advice you’re given.
I noticed while keeping a record of my anxiety levels that whenever I would criticize myself, compare myself to others, judge the things I said or had done, or feel that I’m not good enough, I’d feel very anxious.
Learning to love me was the final piece of the puzzle.
Healthy living helped me to reduce and manage anxiety, but combining healthy living with self-love is how I cured my anxiety.
But this didn’t happen overnight.
I hated myself when I learned that I need to love myself so there was a lot of work that had to be done.
It wasn’t easy but I am proof that it’s possible!
Self-love helped me to not only change my thoughts about myself but to positively change my thoughts about everyone else as well. The more I loved myself, the more love and understanding I had for others. This was transformational for my thought patterns, and I generally started to think more positively.
To this day I believe this is truly incredible.
How to Practice Self-Love?
1. Accept your strengths and weaknesses – you are unique and there is a reason why you have certain strengths but also why you have certain weaknesses. Together as humanity, we complete each other.
3. Avoid comparing yourself to others
Self-love is not selfish, self-absorbed, or narcissistic. Loving yourself is about accepting and appreciating who you are. Taking the good and the bad as a whole.
Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the world’s most known and respected Zen masters, said this perfectly,
To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.
– Thich Nhat Hanh
My Anxiety Cure Formula
Diagnosis + Therapy + Anti-Anxiety Diet + Anti-Anxiety Lifestyle + Anti-Anxiety Mindset + Self-Love
Latest posts by Sandra Glavan, Life Coach for Gentle Anxiety Sufferers (see all)
- How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others (and Why)? - 15th November 2022
- Why taking baby steps is the key to achieving healing? - 27th October 2022
- Social Anxiety at its Worst & 4 Steps to Overcoming it? - 23rd December 2021