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These 5 Things DON'T Mean You Aren't Healing From Anxiety

5 Things DON'T Mean You Aren't Healing From Anxiety

When you're working to heal from anxiety, it can be really tricky to know whether you're healing or not! One day you might feel great, and the next you might be struggling with the simplest of tasks. And oftentimes we're looking for all the signs to determine whether we're healing or not. But unfortunately, it can be pretty easy to mistake these signs and determine that we aren't actually healing.

So I want to talk about the 5 things that shouldn't be indicators of our anxiety healing. And spoiler alert... you're probably doing a much better job than you think you are!

1. You're experiencing lots of anxiety or even panic

For some reason, we think healing means we won't experience lots of anxiety or panic, or at least we'll experience less of it. BUT! When you’re working to heal from anxiety, you’re often going to experience lots more of it because rather than continuing to avoid feeling anxious, suppress it, fight it, etc., you’re actually allowing yourself to face it, to feel it, to make space for it. 

Healing isn't measured by the level of anxiety you feel, but rather by how much you let anxiety control your actions. Think of how many months, or years, or decades anxiety has shown up for you and think of how many times you probably haven’t had the healthiest response to it. It's going to take repetition, consistency, time, self-compassion, and lots of healthy steps for it to stop showing up unnecessarily.

 And you might be thinking… Shannon, I do this! I take anxiety with me, I practice acceptance, but anxiety is still popping up. And this is because there is so much more to the healing journey than just having a healthy response to anxiety. If you want to learn more about acceptance, check out Episode #87 of the podcast. In this episode, I share all my thoughts on acceptance and why you might be feeling like it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do.

2. You're taking medication, or contemplating taking it

I often hear people worry that taking medication feels like cheating or avoiding real healing. This is a huge topic and there is no one size fits all approach. Medication is just another tool that can support you on your recovery journey, just like all of the other tools. But! This can't be the only tool you use to overcome and heal.

What I’m saying is, we have to heal internally. And medication can help you to do this work. For lots of people, medication helps to turn the dial down a bit - on the anxious thoughts, the sensations and symptoms, so that they can really dig in and do the tough work. But that’s just it, right? You still have to do the work.

So, if you’re currently taking medication or contemplating taking medication, I want you to know that you’re still healing while on medication. Your brain can still do the work to rewire and create new and healthy pathways while you’re on medication. It’s not cheating the system or a cop-out. It actually takes a lot of strength to try medication and take the support you need. And if medication isn't for you, that's ok. You can still heal without medication.

3. You aren't always responding in the healthiest way

You have to let yourself be human while you’re working to heal! The reality is, you aren’t always going to make the healthiest decisions, especially when you’re feeling really anxious or experiencing panic, and it’s okay. Lots of grace and lots of letting yourself be human goes a long way.

One of the areas I see lots of people get stuck in is trying to heal perfectly. They think… "If I do everything “right" or "If I do x-y-z, I’ll heal and anxiety will be gone." This creates so much pressure and even more anxiety. You can’t heal perfectly, so don’t put this pressure on yourself to try to. Ditch the "shoulds," less analyzing, stop beating yourself up over less-than-perfect choices, and watch how much less stuck and anxious you'll feel!

4. You're still feeling scared when you experience anxiety or a panic attack

So, here’s a big and important thing to acknowledge! Not feeling scared when you experience anxiety or a panic attack shouldn’t be your goal. When we feel anxious, and especially when we experience panic, we have adrenaline and cortisol pumping through us, and your body is literally priming you to face fear… so, it probably makes a heck of a lot of sense that you're going to feel scared, right?

It's alright if you still feel scared or anxious even after some time. You don't need to force yourself not to feel scared. Instead of trying to make those feelings disappear, try slowing down and giving yourself space to feel them. Avoid the urge to do everything to calm yourself down, as it often leads to feeling even more anxious and scared.

5. You're comparing yourself to someone else's journey

You might look at others and think… "How can they do that? I can’t do that." or "Oh gosh, I’m definitely not as far along as they are." And this my friend, is one of the most unhelpful things you can do - comparing.

It’s helpful to recognize that we’re all on our own individual journeys. We’ve all had different experiences, circumstances, and time spent struggling. And we don’t know what that other person's experiences, circumstances, or journey has looked like. You might look at someone else and see that they’re able to get on a plane and travel, but what you don’t see is that that same person isn’t able to drive alone two miles down the street from where they live. Remember, we never see the full picture of someone’s journey.

You’re healing even if you’re experiencing lots of anxiety and panic. You are healing even if you’re taking medication (or contemplating taking it). You are healing even if you fall back into old patterns and behaviors sometimes. You are healing even if you feel scared when you experience anxiety or panic. You are healing even if they are things you can’t do YET.

Remember to listen to the full episode for all the helpful tips!

Keep taking healthy action, friend. The small steps are helping you to heal even when it doesn’t feel like they’re doing a dang thing. And maybe you’re actually a lot closer to ‘recovery’ than you think you are!

Shannon Jackson, Anxiety Coach


Struggling with lots of what-if thoughts that lead to some really uncomfortable sensations and symptoms? Sign up for my 90-minute LIVE masterclass and learn how to approach your thoughts in a healthy (and very practical) way so that you can get freedom from them!

Feeling like you've tried everything but you're still struggling with lots of anxious thoughts, symptoms, panic attacks, and fears? Take my FREE 60-minute masterclass today and learn 5 shifts that will actually help you to overcome anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia. And I promise, you won't hear any of the usual stuff from me - like doing breathing exercises, grounding practices, cutting out caffeine, and doing more exposures. Let's get you the peace and freedom you deserve without it being so hard!

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