One thing they've all told me about is the importance of flashcards. Basically, on index cards you write inspiring and hopeful messages to counter negative and anxious thoughts. For example:
- I am perfectly imperfect—and that's OK!
- I trust myself.
- So what if I'm feeling anxious. This feeling will pass.
- Good for you for taking this head on and having the courage to do this.
For a long time, I did not like flashcards. They just seemed to gimmicky to me. I wanted to take a pill and be free from anxiety. It took me a long time to realize that overcoming anxiety is not that easy. Medication can help some folks manage the symptoms, but overcoming anxiety also requires hard work. Brain work.
Finally, two months ago I decided to give flashcards a shot. At first, my response was very negative: This isn't going to work. But every time I was anxious, I would refer to them—a quick "reality check" from that flood of anxious thoughts. It took time, but now I'm starting to believe those hopeful messages. I carry my flashcards with me and refer to them quite frequently. I add new cards when I think of uplifting messages.
I wish I would have taken my counselors' advice about flashcards earlier. But that's the odd thing about living with anxiety (at least for me): You learn to live with it, and are skeptical of being free from it, even when people try to help. But instead of letting anxiety influence so much of my life, I now want to focus on living instead of anxiety.