After I had my kids I started really suffering from anxiety. Perhaps “really suffering” is an exaggeration, but my tolerance for physical and emotional discomfort is quite low so it felt intense to me. I started seeing a therapist (shoutout to Ben Eckstein) who specializes in health anxiety and ocd. Ben basically told me I had to get right with my anxiety. I needed to be comfortable with that emotion b/c anxious thoughts were going to happen I just couldn’t let them rule my life. Hmpf. How do you get right with anxiety? I am a Virgo and I like a plan and I needed some homework. Luckily Ben gave me some homework and I did it. It was hard, but I did it and continue to do it to this day. But being a little extra sometimes (Virgo) I needed a little more to really manage my emotions. So. I started testing my anxiety tolerance level in safe ways. For example I would see how long I could manage to drive around with the gas light on without totally freaking out (mind you I have NEVER even let the gas get low enough for the light to even come on...Again. Virgo.) Another exercise I came up with that really helped me sit in my own anxiety, feel all the feels, and realize I can survive it was running with my eyes closed. Now. I am super clumsy and can only do this at the beach, but I do it every chance I get. When the tide is low and no one is out I test my anxiety (and coordination!) by running with my eyes shut. You may think no big deal b/c of the wide open, empty beach, but I begin to feel anxious pretty quickly after my eyes close. BUT as soon as I am tempted to open my eyes I make myself count to 5 before I am allowed to peak. After a few minutes I make myself count to 10 before peaking. The time in between gets longer and longer until I realize most of my run has been with my eyes closed and I have spent 3 miles managing my (self induced) anxiety.
My anxiety level is much lower these days but it takes pretty constant effort on my part. I am constantly working on it, but I can see my efforts paying off.
FYI, there is no right or wrong way to work on your anxiety. There are many different types of therapies and medications to help. 1 size does not fit all.