If you’ve spent any amount of time reading books about anxiety or searching about anxiety on social media, you’ve probably heard lots of myths about anxiety that just aren’t true. Let’s be real…there’s tons of misinformation out there! And that’s why I want to talk with you about some of the most common anxiety myths.
These myths might be keeping you stuck in the loop of fear, self-doubt, and anxiety, and my hope is to help change that by providing you with some friendly assurance. Navigating anxiety is hard enough without these myths, so let’s debunk them once and for all! Let’s talk about why these seven anxiety myths are garbage.
7 Anxiety Myths That Are Garbage!
Anxiety Myth #1: Anxiety and panic attacks are dangerous.
Simply put, anxiety and panic attacks aren’t dangerous. It can’t cause you to have a heart attack, stop breathing, die, or go crazy…despite how much it might feel like it can! What really makes anxiety and panic attacks feel dangerous is how we respond to anxious thoughts and symptoms. We tend to heighten these thoughts and symptoms with the stories we tell ourselves, and even convince ourselves that we’re actually in danger. And this is why it’s really important to remember that when we’re anxious, our feelings can’t be trusted as fact. Ultimately, changing our response to the thoughts and symptoms is the answer. And when you remind yourself that you’re not in danger when you’re experiencing anxiety or panic, it’ll be a whole lot easier to put into practice!
Anxiety Myth #2: You have to manage anxiety, and you can’t fully overcome it
This anxiety myth is complete garbage! Because the truth is, you don’t have to manage anxiety, and you can fully overcome it! This messaging about managing anxiety can be extremely unhelpful, because it makes us feel like we need to “fix” the anxiety. The truth is that we don’t need to fix anxiety, and we certainly don’t need to fix ourselves. Sure, our relationship with anxiety might need some fixing, but this comes through healthy action. And this healthy action allows us to fully overcome anxiety disorders!
Anxiety Myth #3: If you’ve struggled with anxiety for a long time, it’ll take you a long time to recover
I used to really believe that since I had struggled with anxiety for fifteen years, it wouldn’t be possible for me to overcome anxiety. I thought that I had been struggling for too long to be able to recover, and this couldn’t be more untrue! But for the longest time, I wasn’t willing to fully accept the anxiety. And this is what was keeping me stuck! When I started to practice accepting the presence of anxiety, no matter where I was, I started to realize how untrue this myth was!
Anxiety Myth #4: The causes of anxiety disorders are rooted in childhood
You’ve probably heard that in order to recover from anxiety, you have to go back to your childhood, right? You might’ve been told that in order to heal anxiety, you have to heal from your childhood. The truth is that some of us have experienced trauma in our childhoods, and it’s helpful to understand and heal from it. But for lots of us, the root of anxiety is the fear of the thoughts, symptoms, and uncertainty. And that’s why I think that it’s not always necessary to go back to your childhood to heal from anxiety! What matters most is that we are able to create a healthy relationship with anxiety.
Anxiety Myth #5: If you eat right and live a healthy lifestyle, anxiety will go away
This is just so silly, right? Because if this were true, many of us wouldn’t struggle with anxiety disorders. Because many of us exercise, eat well, don’t drink caffeine, and are still struggling! Sometimes an unhealthy lifestyle can contribute to anxiety. And as much as a healthy lifestyle can help us to regulate our nervous systems and heal, it’s certainly not the only thing! Ultimately, learning to create a healthy relationship with anxiety is what leads to real, lasting anxiety recovery.
Anxiety Myth #6: Panic attacks can cause you to faint
I know lots of people struggle with this belief, and it was one of my fears too! And it can be really difficult to remember when you’re feeling hot, out of breath, and dizzy. Although these might seem like signs that you’re about to faint, it’s important to remember that they’re common symptoms of anxiety. And you’ve likely never passed out from a panic attack before, right? Passing out from a panic attack is extremely rare, and it’s important to remember that the thoughts and symptoms we experience when we are anxious aren’t an indicator that something bad will happen.
Anxiety Myth #7: If you have anxiety, you should avoid stressful situations so you don’t make it worse
Stress is a big contributor to anxiety, right? And this is why it’s so important to look for healthy ways to reduce stress in our lives. But you can’t avoid all of the experiences that cause you stress or anxiety, or else your world will start to get really small. Instead, it’s important to focus on managing stress and taking the healthy action that’ll lead you to more peace, joy, and freedom in the future. And sometimes, this action is the one that you’re afraid of at the moment!
I want you to remember that you aren’t fragile. Remember that you’re resilient, strong, and capable of doing hard things! I hope this episode provides you with the assurance you need to keep taking healthy action. And if you’re looking for more insight on how you can take healthy action, I want you to check out my podcast episode on exposures. Because I know that it’s going to be so supportive of your anxiety recovery journey!
Don’t forget to listen to the podcast episode full of goodness!
Welcome to a healthy push Podcast. I'm Shannon Jackson, former anxiety sufferer turned adventure mom and anxiety recovery coach. I struggled with anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia for 15 years. And now I help people to push past the stuff that I used to struggle with. Each week, I'll be sharing real and honest conversations, along with actionable and practical steps that you can take to help you push past your anxious thoughts, the symptoms, panic and fears. Welcome. You're right, we're meant to be. Alright, welcome to the episode in which I share seven anxiety myths with you that are absolute garbage. And I have to laugh because when I sat down to write the title of this episode, I thought to myself, there is no other way to spin it. There's no other word to use, like these myths are just garbage. And some of these things are things that I truly believed when I was working to recover from anxiety, panic and agoraphobia. And unfortunately, me believing these things really kept me stuck. And my mission here is, I don't want you to be stuck, I don't want it to take you so long to recover. And I don't want it to be so hard. So I want to dig in. And these things are truly going to help you to get some insights. And to get some practical tips and to make some shifts, that will be incredibly helpful for you. So let's dive right in. Number one, anxiety and panic attacks are dangerous. So I'm going to put this a little too simply, I know. But anxiety and panic attacks are not dangerous, like they aren't going to cause heart attack or cause you to stop breathing or cause you to go crazy, or cause you to spontaneously die, even though they can make you feel that way, right. But what really makes anxiety and especially panic attacks feel so dangerous, is how we respond to our thoughts and to the sensations and to the symptoms. And then it's how our bodies respond to our response. It's like this really vicious cycle. And we tend to heighten the thoughts and the feelings with the stories we tell ourselves about what we're thinking and feeling. And then we try to problem solve and fix and run and we just try to do something about our thoughts and with how we're feeling. And we get really caught up in the thoughts and in the feelings. And unfortunately, we base a lot of the things off of how we feel like we base our safety and are okayness off of how we feel. But something really important to acknowledge and to remember is that when you feel anxious, your feelings really aren't anything to be relied upon. Like they are truly just feelings. You know how often you'll hear people say, your thoughts are just thoughts, like they are nothing more. And it's very similar with your feelings. But of course, feelings can bring upon some really tricky, hard stuff. And so we love to get in there and sort of interpret our feelings. And unfortunately, when we get in the air, and we try to interpret and do things with the feelings, it causes our bodies to have this very natural reaction, our bodies are like, ooh, something is going on. Clearly, you are fighting something, clearly there is a danger. And so I'm going to keep on, you know, pumping out these feelings. And trust me, I know the feelings can make things so tricky. But this is why I talk so much about slowing down and working to allow and surrender in really paying attention to your response. You know, I can tell you, I, when I was struggling, I experienced hundreds if not 1000s of anxious moments and panic attacks. And there were so many of those moments where I thought something terrible is gonna happen. Like even though I knew, right, I knew logically, this is anxiety, like this is a panic attack, I know that I'm going to be okay, I know that I'm gonna make it through this. My default was always something terrible is going to happen, and I'm going to die. But that was never true. I always worked through the anxious moment, I always came out the other side of a panic attack, just like you always have to, and recognizing it is safe to experience anxiety and panic anywhere. It's just those thoughts, right? And those feelings that are going to convince you otherwise, if you allow them to. So although the anxiety and the panic attacks aren't dangerous, until you learn to respond differently to them, your mind and your body won't respond differently. And I think it's also important to note here, right you can't talk logic into anxiety. I work with lots of one one-on-one clients and students of mine. And they say all the time, you know, Shannon, I know, I know logically like, I'm okay, I'm not going to die. I know, it's just a panic attack. And yes, like, you can logically know all of that. And you can even tell yourself all of that, like, Okay, this is just anxiety, like, it's just a panic attack, we're okay. You know, but until you respond differently with your actions until you respond differently to those thoughts and those feelings, your mind and your body can't make those new pathways so that they don't, you know, fire those false alarms. So if you're like, Shannon, this is good and all but like, tell me how, like, what do I do? You know, I wish I could dive into it all here. But I really encourage, if you have not checked out my symptoms and panic attacks masterclass, I really encourage you to check that out, it is a 90-minute class, I share so much practical stuff there, that will actually help you to learn how to respond differently so that the symptoms and panic attacks start popping up. Okay, let's jump into number two. And this myth is like, one of the biggest bullshit ideas that keep people stuck for so long. And it's one of the things that kept me stuck for so long. And it's that you have to manage anxiety, and you can't overcome it. And you can't create a healthy relationship with it. And it is just so true. It's such it's garbage, right. So I think so many people stay stuck because they're aiming to manage anxiety. And I think it's because a lot of the messaging that's out there, and a lot of messaging that we've gone for so long with anxiety, you just have to figure out how to accept it as being a part of your life, you have to find out and learn all these coping mechanisms and these techniques and strategies. And unfortunately, it just causes you to look constantly outside of yourself and to throw all of these things at anxiety. And it only causes you to struggle even more, it puts so much more emphasis and focus on anxiety and on how you're feeling and always trying to fix like I always say, right, you're not trying to fix anxiety, like we're not trying to fix it, we're not trying to go at it, this is not a battle of you versus anxiety, like we're trying to create a healthy relationship with it. And this managing of anxiety is so problematic because we just think all the tools, all the coping strategies, this is the stuff right, if I just learned how to manage it, I'm going to somehow no longer struggle. And he just really want you to make this shift, I really want to encourage you. So I've told this story before, but I want to tell it because it's so powerful. You know, I went to see a psychiatrist to try medication for like, the third time, because I just felt like it was my lowest low, I thought that I wasn't gonna be able to function anymore. Like literally, I thought that I was gonna have to quit my job, that I wasn't going to be able to leave the house anymore. And I remember going to see the psychiatrist and just telling her like, I can't keep doing this. I have tried everything. I have tried all the coping strategies, all the techniques, all the grounding, yoga, meditation, like I have tried it all. And she looked at me and said, Shannon, fuck, managing anxiety. And I was like, Excuse me? Like, I did think she was a little bit crazy in the moment. But I thought what, like, how did she just tell me to like, say, the screw managing it. And she looked at me and said, Shannon, I think you trying to manage it is a big part of the problem. You've been trying to manage it for so long. And you need to make the shift of actually believing that this is something that you can create a healthy relationship with. And it doesn't have to continue to cause all of the problems that it's causing. And for that first time, I had gotten permission from somebody to say, don't manage it, you don't have to continue to try to manage it. Stop trying to throw all the fixes and solutions and things at it and just work to actually surrender to it and let it be there and take it with you and stop trying to solve for it. Just let it be. And it was just this amazing moment that helped me to really make such a powerful shift in my recovery. So you don't have to manage anxiety. It is something you can overcome and you can create a healthy relationship with it. Okay, number three, and this is another big one. This is one that definitely kept me stuck. And it's that if you've struggled with anxiety for a long time, it's gonna take you a long time to recover, or it's not even possible for you to recover because it's been so long. Oh I used to believe this I because I struggled for over a decade, I honestly thought and believed like, I'm never going to overcome this, like, I have to just accept this, like anxiety, panic, the fear, all of the thoughts like they're never going anywhere, I just have to, you know, going back to number two, I just have to manage it, I just have to accept it, and figure out how I can make this life worth living with all of this struggle. And it was so wrong, like, it did not have to take me a long time to recover, just because I had struggled for so long. But what I was doing for so long, was not accepting, not accepting that I actually could heal this relationship with anxiety, not accepting where I was, like, not accepting that I actually was a big part of the problem, that I wasn't taking accountability, that I was often playing the victim, that I often wasn't seeing that I had a choice, and that I had to choose to take the small steps I had to choose to commit, otherwise, it wasn't going to happen. And you know, that is one of the biggest thing is if I could go back, of course, I would have said, Shannon, what are you doing? What are you doing? You know, there was so much that I knew, but I just wasn't doing it. And so it's having that honesty with yourself, approaching yourself honestly and kindly right and compassionately, but to say, hey, we can't keep doing this. And we don't want to, we have to do things differently. And so, you know, people ask me, How long did it take you to recover. And I can honestly say, when I made that shift, and I actually committed to me to my mental health to doing things differently, it took me less than a year. And I struggled for 15 years. But when I actually committed and I said, Shannon, you don't want to do this anymore. Like Never mind that, you know, you can't see beyond this, you have to allow yourself to accept where you are, to accept what has happened. And you have to allow yourself to move forward. And for things to look differently. And when I did that, when I really committed, that's when things really started to look differently. So I want you to hear me if you've struggled for years, five years, 10 years, 15 years, I don't care how long you've struggled, you can change the relationship with anxiety and with yourself, and it doesn't have to take you years to do it. But you do have to be honest with yourself, you do have to commit to yourself, you do have to commit to taking the hard, uncomfortable steps. And that's really where the magic is. Okay, number four. And this is a big myth that I know a lot of people hear and I used to hear, and it would be incredibly frustrating to me. And it's that the causes of anxiety disorders are usually rooted in childhood. So in order to recover, you have to go back to your childhood, you have to focus on that period of time, you have to heal that. So the truth is, for some people, there is trauma, right? Or there are things that occurred in childhood that is helpful to understand, it's helpful to work through, it's helpful to heal from, but the root for many, many people is typically just that fear of feeling, that fear of things being uncertain, that constant desire for control and to need for things to be okay, because you just have so much fear. So for me, it was sort of both like the I definitely experienced trauma, there were things that I had to go back to, there were things that I had to really work through, I had to understand better I had to, I had to heal from those things in order to move forward. But it also wasn't, I heal from those things. And then my relationship with anxiety is magically fixed. Because that didn't happen either. But I just want to make it clear, I think for a lot of people, you don't have to go back to childhood. And for some people, you don't have that willingness. And that's okay. I always say, I don't think you have to go back in order to heal the relationship with you now and the relationship you have with anxiety now. Instead, we have to focus on the right now. How are you responding to anxiety when it shows up now? How are you treating yourself now? How are you supporting yourself now? Most of the healing work has to happen in the present. So I don't want you to buy into this and think I have to go back there's something so deep rooted, you know, my therapist keeps wanting to go back into my childhood and to go back into all this trauma. It can be helpful but I do Don't think that you have to go back in order to heal the present. Okay, number five. And this is a big one, I think this is when people hear a lot. If you just eat right, and you exercise and you avoid caffeine, and you live this healthy lifestyle, your anxiety will go away, it's gonna get better. And it's just so silly, right? Because if this were true, many people wouldn't struggle with anxiety disorders. Like there are a lot of very healthy people out there. And lots of clients and students of mine that I work with are like Shin, and I don't understand, I eat right, I nourish myself, I exercise, I don't drink caffeine, like I do all these things, and I'm still struggling. And of course, you know, we, we don't get to this place by just having an unhealthy lifestyle. Sometimes it is a contributor. And I think some of these things can definitely greatly support your nervous system, like eating right and exercising and you know, living a healthier lifestyle, these things can definitely support your nervous system and make it easier for you to heal. But it's not, I do all these things, and then I heal. You know, I never want people going down all the rabbit holes and eliminating all the foods and the things and doing all the quote healthy things and expecting it to be the fix. Because remember, we are aiming to create a healthy relationship with anxiety. And that's really about changing how you respond to it, changing how you respond to yourself. So you can't just eat right and exercise and live healthy style, healthy lifestyle and habit fixed everything. There's much more to it than that. Okay, number six, panic attacks can cause you to faint. I know this is a big one. And I this was one of my biggest fears for so so long. And it's hard because if you experience dizziness or lightheadedness, or feeling hot, like all of these are common symptoms of anxiety. And trust me, I know how these symptoms can convince you that you're definitely going to pass out. But passing out relating to panic attacks is super rare, like super, super rare. You know, the reason why you are so stuck on the symptoms is because they do make you really feel a certain way. And those feelings are uncomfortable. But that discomfort does not mean that it is going to lead to you passing out. So I just want to share I'm always open and honest. Like when I was struggling with anxiety, panic and agoraphobia, I had so much going on at one point, you know, I was in a very toxic relationship, I had so much stress, I was working multiple jobs I was in school, like I just had so much going on. And I did have a few instances of me passing out. But those were much more tied to stress. Stress can create so much disruption in the body and can really cause some some scary things to happen. And so I don't share this to scare anyone because I really don't want to scare anyone. And I want to remind you like I literally experienced hundreds, if not 1000s, like I had to have experienced 1000s of panic attacks because some days it was like, every day for years. So I just want you to really hear this, I know the symptoms can be incredibly uncomfortable. But passing out is super, super rare. And remember, feelings aren't reliable. Like, especially when you're feeling anxious and your thoughts aren't reliable when you're feeling really anxious. So stepping away, you know, slowing down, allowing yourself to get clarity can go a long, long way. Okay, number seven, and the last one. If you have anxiety, you should avoid stressful situations. So you don't make things worse. i Yeah, right. So stress is of course, a big contributor of anxiety. And so you want to look for ways to reduce stress, like you want to be healthy, you want to support yourself, you want to support your body. But you cannot avoid all the situations in which you often experience anxiety and that overwhelm and stress because that's only going to shrink your world and make it even harder for you to heal. I know you might feel like well, I just can't I can't do any more. I can't face that I really feel like I can't handle it. So it's important to acknowledge, you know, a big thing that keeps people stuck. And a big thing that continues to have anxiety popping up and strengthening of the fears. It's the safety nets. It's the imaginary safe zones, you're keeping yourself behind. It's the backup plans and waiting until you feel confident and waiting until you feel like you have things figured out and convincing yourself that you're you're fragile and you can't face it because you can't handle it and you can't make things worse. You know, we often think that we're keeping ourselves safe. Because we think and convince ourselves we can't handle it. But we're actually just keeping ourselves incredibly stuck. And by letting go of some of those safety nets and facing our biggest fears and doing the hard, uncomfortable things, we actually allow ourselves to move forward and experience more peace, joy and freedom. And like we actually see, we're not fragile, and we can handle it. And we can do hard things. So sometimes you just got to push yourself off the cliff, right, and have that blind faith that you're gonna fly. And this means no creating backup plans, or waiting until you feel confident or waiting until you feel like you're ready, you're have things figured out. It's just taking the leap and seeing what happens. You know, something that I heard recently that I want to share with you, because I was like, dang, that is so true. This quote said, if you think facing discomfort is hard, wait until you see the results of not facing discomfort. And I was like, holy hack, it is so true. You know, we as humans will typically do anything to avoid feeling discomfort, but we don't stop and recognize the effects that avoiding discomfort has on us and our lives, and how much it shrinks our worlds and places these limitations on ourselves and doesn't allow us to step into who we truly are. So I don't want you to believe this, that, you know, you can't handle stress. You know, a lot of times the stress that you're facing is good, healthy stress. I know it's uncomfortable, but it's good for you to push yourself and see that you are capable. So you're not fragile. I don't want you to treat yourself like you're fragile. I know how much you can feel like because of everything that's going on, you can't handle one more thing. But you can handle it. You've handled it so many times before, you are so much more capable than you give yourself credit for. But if you're like okay, Shannon, like this makes sense. But like, I am feeling a lot of overwhelm and feeling a lot of stress. And it's just like, I know that confusion of like, can I handle more? I don't know. So an episode that I want to steer you in the direction of is episode number 93. I talk about exposures. And I talk about do I have to do exposures in order to recover? And I talk about, you know, a balance and finding that balance. So if you're like, Okay, this is great. Like, I know, I can't avoid stressful situations, but I don't I have a lot going on. And I think there's more to it, I really want you to listen to that episode, because I think that will be incredibly helpful to you. So I really hope these seven myths that I've debunked, right, and then I've spelled out very plainly are garbage. I hope they have helped to give you some insights. And I hope that you take some really helpful and healthy shifts from the seven things that I shared. And if you found these things to be helpful, please please share it with somebody. And I just want to ask you, you know, it's incredibly hard for me to ask for things, but podcast reviews, your ratings, your reviews are super helpful for me. I love seeing them. You know, it's like I put these things out into the world and sometimes they just don't know like, is it helpful? I don't know. So I would love to hear from you. Is the podcast helpful? What do you get from it? Is it important to you? Do you enjoy it? Like tell me I read them all, I really, really appreciate them. So I would thank you incredibly if you just take a couple of minutes to rate and review the podcast. Alright, until next time, my friends keep taking healthy action. I hope you enjoyed this episode of A Healthy Push. If you want more, head on over to a healthypush.com for the show notes and lots more tips, tools and inspiration that will support your recovery. And if you're hoping for me to cover a certain topic, be sure to join my Instagram community @ahealthypush and let me know in the comments what you want to hear next.