It isn’t always easy to know when you’re making progress dealing with your anxiety. Anxiety can pull us away from examining ourselves, and being in the throws of dealing with it can sometimes be all we can manage. We seldom stop to think, “how am I doing?” when we are simply doing it, but we would be wise to take stock.
Not only can measuring our progress allow us to tweak what is working and what isn’t, knowing we are making progress can be just the motivation we need to stay the course when things feel difficult. Simply put, knowing what is working allows us to keep doing it, and build the practice we need to transform these new skills into habits.
So how do you know if you’re making progress in dealing with your anxiety? Here are 5 ways to tell.
- You feel it less often in your body: That pit in your stomach, the catch in your throat, and the early morning racing thoughts are less noticeable when you make progress dealing with your anxiety. You understand what your anxiety is signaling, and you are taking action in your life such that your anxiety is no longer working so hard to get your attention.
- You have stopped fighting with your anxiety, and notice it very seldom escalates into panic. You know battling anxiety escalates it, and have therefore practiced letting anxiety wash over you when you feel it instead of fighting it. Your anxiety and its impact have in turn diminished. When you stop fighting your anxiety and recognize you can handle it, the intensity of it naturally diminishes. It is a positive spiral that builds on itself as you make progress.
- You’re not talking about anxiety as much: As you are doing more to solve problems in your life, you are talking less about your anxiety these days. When you find yourself getting frightened that you can’t handle something, you recognize this as an irrational fear, and don’t let it sabotage your progress. Not all anxiety is bad, and as you put yours into action in your life, your anxiety is less and less present.
- You take care of yourself without guilt: You have come to notice that you think better, understand your emotions more easily, and make better decisions when you are adequately rested (sleeping 7.5-9 hours/night), properly nourished and as active as possible. You avoid excess caffeine and sugar because they make you feel edgy, and you are adopting an attitude of gentleness with yourself and others.
- You see progress: Not every day is easy, and sure you still feel discouraged at times. But as you are channeling your anxiety, you are feeling more confident. When you feel shaky looking ahead, you have learned to look behind you. Noticing your progress can fuel your resolve. You may even list your ‘have done’s at the end of the day along side of tomorrow’s ‘to do’s.
Dealing with your anxiety isn’t always easy, but with practice it becomes easier. Half the battle is acknowledging improvement and using it to stay the path. Every step matters, and noticing your progress can be just the encouragement you need to bravely face the challenges ahead.