How to Keep Moving Forward on Your Anxiety Recovery Journey
Alright, let’s be honest, when you’re struggling with the same things day in and day out, it can be incredibly hard to find the motivation to continue to choose to put in the work and heal. I know, because there were so many days when I felt like no matter what I did, I continued to face the anxious thoughts, the symptoms, panic, and fears. And some days, it honestly made me want to just call it quits. And when I’d have good days, or even weeks, or incredible wins, it often felt like a tease because the tough moments continued to come.
When you’re facing the same stuff over and over again, it can be incredibly draining, frustrating, and have you questioning yourself, your decisions, and your capabilities. There were so many points during my recovery that I remember thinking… How did I get here? I’ve wasted so much of my life and my time. What am I doing wrong? What am I missing? Am I ever going to live the life that I’ve been working towards? And at times, I was so convinced that I needed to do something drastic in order to recover because I felt like everything I had been doing clearly wasn’t working or enough.
And under all of this questioning, was somebody who was incredibly scared. I was scared of “failing” and continuing to struggle with anxiety and panic for the rest of my life. But I was also scared of succeeding. Yes, succeeding. I was scared of what my life could actually look like without all of the stuff in it that I had become so used to being in it - the anxiety, panic, and fear. I don’t know if you can relate to this or not, but my life had been so consumed by anxiety, panic, and fear for years, and a part of me was honestly scared of what my life would look like if it wasn’t consumed by these things.
In a weird way, I had become a little comfortable with the uncomfortability. I had become a little comfortable with what I faced every day. I had become a little comfortable with all of the things that I was battling so hard with day after day. And it makes sense, after all, I am human and as humans our brains like predictability, familiarity, and routine. So even though what I was facing every day was hard and uncomfortable, on the other side of the hard I was facing, there was a lot of unknown, and I really hated the unknown. I would think… What would my life look like without anxiety, panic, and fear being at the forefront of it? What would I do? Who would I become? Would I actually do the things that I’ve been saying I’ve wanted to do for so long? And although those things, like traveling, going places alone, becoming a mom, going on crazy adventures, were all super exciting to me, they also terrified me.
And then it hit me. I had reached my “enough” point. The point in which I was sick of my own shit. I was sick of not fully committing. I was sick of me not really giving it everything I had. I was sick of catching myself making unhealthy choices that I knew were contributing to my struggle, things that I had said repeatedly that I was going to stop doing or change. I was sick of complaining. I was sick of seeking reassurance from others. I was sick of falling short of who I knew I was and what I was capable of. And I hated that I had become comfortable with the discomfort of struggling.
My enough point was me sobbing on the bathroom floor, listening to my mom tell me that I had to choose to recover and that she and nobody else could do it for me. So, I made the choice to recover, again. And it wasn’t that this time was necessarily special, but this time I knew that from that day forward, I would continue to choose to heal no matter what because I was sick of my own shit. I was no longer placing blame on exterior things, or even on myself, and instead I was taking ownership of my journey and pushing forward despite how hard it might be or what it might look like.
Here’s something that people often don’t talk about when it comes to any recovery journey… You have to keep making the choice to recover over and over again. Choosing to heal and to recover isn’t a choice that you’re going to make once and then you magically heal. You’re going to have to make it over and over again. And you have to do this because this is real life and it’s not the movies. Trust me, I didn’t just get up from the bathroom floor that day, wipe my tears away, and face all of the hard stuff with a smile on my face and never feel defeated again. BUT, I did get up and face the hard stuff while reminding myself that I was the biggest key in my recovery, and that it wouldn’t happen unless I remained fully invested in the journey.
Alright, I want to dive in and share with you a few things that will help you to keep moving forward on your recovery journey.
01. Give yourself permission to transform. Stick with me on this one because I know you’re probably like… Oh jeez, Shannon! But here’s the thing, your reality is that your life has probably looked a certain way for some time now, and you’ve probably even gotten a little used to, and maybe even comfortable with it. And you need to give yourself permission to change the way it looks! We often hold ourselves back in the healing process because we often convince ourselves our lives just aren’t meant to look differently. And you know what I think about this? To heck with this thought! You choose what your path looks like, not anxiety, not panic, not anything or anyone else. So if you think that your life isn’t meant to look any differently, that’s a choice you are making.
You know what can be a really helpful exercise… You don’t have to do this right now but when you’re able to, I want you to stand in front of a mirror and ask yourself… Have I gotten to my “enough” point yet? Am I sick of living this way, enough to start facing the stuff that is going to be hard, but not as hard as this is? Your reality is that you don’t have to continue to be comfortable with the discomfort. Instead, you can choose the discomfort that is going to lead to you healing and reaching your biggest goals. And sure, it’s scary, but what’s even more scary is holding yourself back from living the life you are capable and deserving of living.
If you’ve reached your “enough” point, I want you to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I accept and love you for who you are right now, and I give you permission to transform and live the life you want and deserve to live.” Sounds a little woo-woo? Yeah, I know. And I’m okay with it, because this stuff is powerful.
And here are a couple of big things to acknowledge when you’re giving yourself permission to transform…
You don’t need to do something drastic in order to transform. We often show and talk about transformations in a way that makes it seem like it’s something that happens quickly, like a home remodel for example. And sure, you can transform the look of something pretty quickly, but the transformation I’m talking about is something that takes a bit more time. And I know that this can be super frustrating, but when you truly give yourself permission to transform, you start to notice that there is beauty in the journey. The little wins start to feel really big. Your capabilities start to feel expanded. And the hard stuff begins to feel less hard and more temporary. You don’t need to do anything drastic, my friend. There isn’t some big element that you’re missing, just keep focusing on the action you’re taking right now. And, this is a good segue into the next big thing to acknowledge!
You don’t need to know what all of the steps will look like along the way. I think we spend so much of our time wanting to plan and have things figured out. We want to know what things will look like, and what exactly the steps to recovery will look like, but this isn’t realistic. I talk so much about taking small, healthy steps every day because the small steps are what leads to healing. And there are lots of small, healthy steps that are within your control that you can take every day. But there are going to be steps that you’ll take along that way that you didn’t anticipate or necessarily intentionally take. The reality is, you won’t always know what all of the steps are going to look like from day to day, but you don’t need to. Because if you keep putting your focus on taking healthy action, you will get there, no matter what the steps look like or whether or not they were intentional.
Give yourself permission to transform. You hold the power to do this. Because all of those wishes, dreams, hopes, and visions, you can and are capable of making them your reality. You don’t need to stay where you are, repeatedly facing the same stuff. You can heal and overcome, so allow yourself to do it!
02. Commit to changing your behaviors through your actions. I’m not going to dive super far into this one because I talk about this a lot, but I want to mention it because taking healthy action is a huge piece of recovery. Because the thing is, you can tell your brain all day long that you don’t want to continue to face what you’re up against every day and ready to overcome it, and you can really mean it, but if you don’t show your brain that you’re actually going to take the steps that will allow you to push past what you’re currently struggling with, the words and even the emotions behind them won’t mean a whole heck of a lot to your brain. Your brain needs action.
If you really think about it, I’m sure that you can come up with one, two, or even a few things you’re doing right now that aren’t supporting your healing. Whether it be fighting or suppressing your anxious thoughts or feelings, avoiding the hard stuff (aka the stuff that often leads to anxiety), not prioritizing sleep, not moving your body, beating yourself up, maybe it’s an unhealthy relationship, or a lack of boundaries, or a lack of self-care, and the list goes on. Really take a step back and ask yourself… Am I taking healthy action? The healthy actions (aka the healthy steps) are what your brain needs to change your behaviors and help you to heal. And if you need some help in figuring out what healthy steps look like, go back and listen to episode two of the podcast!
03. Define your WHY, and remind yourself of it often! We often consume ourselves with the what, how, who, and when, and we completely overlook our WHY - why we're working so hard to heal and overcome. Don't get me wrong, the others are important, but if you don't stop to acknowledge why you're working so hard to recover, it's going to make your journey even harder. Because the truth is, when we have a why, it's a motivator. It's something that helps to push us when the what, how, who, and when is unclear.
Tell me… When somebody asks you to do something, you likely want to know why you're doing it, right? And this is especially true when somebody asks you to do something that might seem undesirable in the moment, right? My daughter, Amelia, is 3 ½ and she rarely does anything without knowing why she’s being asked to do something. When she was 2-2 1/2, I could ask her to do nearly anything and she'd just do it (even most times with a smile). But now, there is often a "Why, ma?" Whether it's me asking her to get dressed, or to pick up her toys, or to get in the car. She insists on knowing why. And it makes sense, right? I mean, how many things do you do without knowing why you're doing them? It’s helpful and motivating to know the why.
Alright, you know those moments when you're pushing yourself to do the hard and uncomfortable stuff? Or when you're facing a fear? Or when you're leaning into the discomfort and uncertainty? Well, this is going to sound like a silly question but I'm going to ask it anyway! Do you know why you're continuing to push yourself even though it's so uncomfortable and hard? Like, when was the last time that you asked yourself this question… Why am I working so hard to recover?
Your WHY is so important. Your why is what will help you to keep taking action no matter how hard it feels, or how hard it gets. Acknowledging and reminding yourself of your WHY is not only motivating, but it also helps you to reestablish your path and your direction and helps to define your purpose, and it actually helps to make some decisions and things less hard.
I’ve gotta be really honest with you - I have to remind myself often of my why often - Why I started A Healthy Push while working full-time, being a mom of a toddler, and trying to balance all of the other things in life. Wanna know one of my whys? Well, I’m gonna share it with you either way! If I stopped showing up here, or on social media, on my blog, or in all of the other ways that I show up, who would potentially continue to struggle and not have the tools, the hope, the motivation, and inspiration that they need to keep pushing forward and heal?
YOU! You are one of my biggest whys! The thought of me not showing up, knowing that it could prevent you from healing, well, that’s enough to keep me pushing myself no matter how hard it is, or how hard it gets!
And my whys when I was struggling with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia... Well, they were to be able to travel, to go on adventures, to become a mom, and to be able to heal so that I could help others to do the same. I used to say to my mom, "When I push past this, I’m going to help as many people as I can to do the same!" At the time, did I actually think that it was possible to be where I am today? Absolutely not! But I wanted it so bad and reminded myself of my whys often which helped me to keep going.
What is your why? Why are you working so hard to overcome anxiety, panic disorder, or agoraphobia? Is it so that you can experience peace? Is it so that you can travel and go on adventures? Is it so that you can live out your dreams (whatever they are)? Is it so that you can become a parent? Is it so that you can be the best mom, dad, partner, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandparent (p.s. You are already a great mom, dad, partner, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandparents, anxiety and all!)? And, maybe you even have more than one why!
In the live trainings that I did a few months back, here are some of the whys that people shared:
“To fully enjoy and experience my life.”
“To be there for my children and spouse.”
“To be independent and free.”
“To go on adventures with my family.”
“To feel safe in the world again.”
“To be successful in my career!”
“I want to be able to sing on stage like I did for years!”
These are beautiful, huh? I want you to write down your why somewhere, and make it somewhere that you’ll see often. And I want you to say your why out loud whenever you see it. Remind yourself of why you’re pushing yourself. Your why is worth it. YOU are worth it!
Your why matters so much! If you’re constantly focused on the how, what, and the when, and you don’t stop to acknowledge why you’re pushing yourself, it's going to deter you from healing and it’ll actually slow your progress. Don’t get me wrong, these things are obviously important, but your why is what will help you to keep taking action even when it’s hard and feels so uncomfortable!
And if you’d like to check out that live training that I mentioned, there’s a link to it in the show notes! In the training, I teach you three actionable steps that you can take today to push past your anxious thoughts, the symptoms, panic, and fears.
04. Start envisioning and manifesting! I know you might be thinking… Here we go, another woo-woo suggestion! And I get it! But stick with me because some of the biggest shifts I made in my recovery journey was when I became more open to different approaches and techniques.
So we often do this thing as humans where we play the comparison game. We compare ourselves to how we used to be, or to what we used to be able to do, or we compare ourselves to other people. And we often have thoughts like… I wish I could be who I once was. I wish I could do the things I used to be able to do. I wish I was that person! They seem so carefree and not filled with anxiety. Do any of these things sound familiar? And we all know that the comparison game is totally unhealthy and not productive, but we play it because we are dreaming and yearning for things that we’re currently lacking.
And this is where envisioning and manifesting comes into play! Instead of playing the comparison game, it can be really helpful and much more productive to instead envision how you want your life to look.
What are the things you want to do in life?
What are the things that you miss doing that you want to get back to doing?
How do you want to move through your days?
How do you want to feel?
What would it all look like if you weren’t struggling with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia?
Really give it some thought and write down your answers to these questions. And when you’re answering these questions, really take some quiet time to sit in stillness and really envision what your life would look and feel like if you were where you want to be.
Where would you physically be?
Would you be driving a car on the open road, traveling somewhere you’ve never been before but have always wanted to see and experience?
Would you be flying on an airplane, headed somewhere you’ve been many times before but haven’t been to in years? Maybe a place that you used to visit every summer with your family, and now you’re traveling there with your family?
Would you be sitting at home, listening to a giggling toddler?
Would you be walking on a beach, listening to the waves crashing while holding your partner's hand, maybe somebody who you haven’t even met yet?
And to take it a step further, because you know I love to do that…
What do you look like?
What are you wearing?
What do the people you’re with look like?
What kind of car are you driving?
Do you feel at peace?
Do you feel joyful?
Do you feel a sense of freedom that you haven’t felt in years?
Really create a vision for what you want it all to look and feel like. And acknowledge that your vision requires you to believe that everything you’re envisioning is possible. It requires you to not believe that it’s possible, but it also requires you to acknowledge and believe that you are worthy and deserving of all of it. You are worthy and deserving of peace, joy, love, freedom, and adventure. And this, my friend, is manifesting. And no, it’s not easy. Because let’s face it, some of the hardest work is believing that you are deserving. But this work is incredibly worth it because you are worth it. And you are deserving of living an amazing life.
And yes, along with setting intentions, your vision requires action on your part. You have to take healthy action in order to create the life you want and deserve to live. Envisioning and manifesting alone doesn’t create miracles, but I do believe that envisioning and manifesting is something that can support the action you’re taking and help you to reach your biggest goals.
Alright, that was a lot my friend! But I truly believe that these things will help to keep you moving forward on your recovery journey. And remember, you have to keep making the choice to heal. And when you have to keep making the choice to heal, it doesn’t mean that you’ve failed or that you’ve done anything wrong, it simply means that you’re human.
Until next time, keep taking healthy action.