Opinion: I reduced by anxiety by neutralizing negative thoughts

I’ve lived my life constantly over-analyzing every aspect of myself. Not to make sure I’m perfect, but to make sure others don’t notice me in a negative light.

I was so obsessively afraid of being judged by my peers that I hid parts of myself away, hoping they’d never be found. Keeping aspects of my personality to myself caused me to blend into the background, and at the time I thought this is what I wanted: to be unnoticed. Despite that, being overlooked did not cause my anxieties to disappear.

My anxiety was still sitting in my brain, jumping at any opportunity to make me feel insecure. Does this outfit look bad? Will they laugh if
I make a mistake? Did I say something wrong? Do they even want to be my friend? Every little nitpick caused me to sink further into that hole of isolation. However, I’m not the only one who constantly gets fed these nagging thoughts.

Social anxiety affects over 15 million people, as reported by Evolve Treatment, a teen rehabilitation center, making it one of the most common psychiatric disorders. Intense fear of embarrassment causes those who are socially anxious to avoid situations where they’re placed in the center of attention.

To help the many people who suffer with social anxiety, its symptoms can be temporarily relieved with treatment. However, anxiety is most likely “a permanent part of a person’s psychological makeup,” according to Anxiety Panic Health. Therapy and medications are the
recommended treatment for anxiety. They’re not a guaranteed cure, but they can provide temporary or long-term relief and “help increase confidence and improve ability to interact with others,” as reported by the Mayo Clinic.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most common type of treatment for anxiety. It approaches anxiety by focusing on how negative thoughts affect your actions and teaches you how to address and challenge those negative thoughts by replacing them with more realistic line of thinking. Though it sounds difficult, this is exactly how I got over my anxieties.

Thinking that people are constantly watching my every move in an attempt to find something to judge is impractical, and CBT taught me to dismiss that unrealistic way of thinking. This eventually taught me to not care about others opinions, and just focus on myself instead of obsessing over every little thing.

Author: Lauren Dempsky

Lauren Dempsky is a senior, the Arts and Culture Editor, and member of the photography team. If you ever go shopping with her, she will convince you to buy something so she doesn’t feel like such an impulsive buyer. A fun fact about her is that she has 121 Spotify playlists and counting.

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