Mindful Journeys: What Anxiety Can Teach You

When something bad happens in our lives, we immediately put it upon ourselves to take the blame for what’s going wrong. We tend to say “Why me?” “Why is this happening?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” Hurdles can be seen as enormous setbacks and make us seem like we learned nothing from our past. 

For me, those thoughts and several more have floated through my head for months. My anxiety turned my life upside down and it came on so quickly, I didn’t have time to process all the reasons my anxiety could have been brought on in the first place. All while trying to deal with my symptoms, this growing sense of pity, fear and dread of the unknown teamed up with my anxiety. I knew there were worse things in the world I could be going through, but each day felt like another struggle to survive.

While writing one night in my anxiety-calming journal, I came across a prompt that asked me to think about “anxiety’s praiseworthy core,” and how anxiety has helped me. I was taken aback. Anxiety was supposed to help me?! Something that had been tormenting me, forcing me to completely alter the way I lived my life for 20 years, was supposed to be “praiseworthy?” I could usually write the first things that came to my mind, but I had to sit with this prompt for a while. After a couple of hours, I realized my anxiety had been somewhat beneficial to me. Here’s some of what anxiety has taught me:

How important it is to listen to your body. Anxiety is your mind trying to alert you of dangers nearby, enacting your “fight or flight” mode to go into effect. Even though I’m not being chased by bears or jumping off a cliff, it’s allowed me to think about what could be causing my mind to react to certain situations. Observing how my body reacts to these situations, participating in self-care and responding to what it needs at the moment has also been insightful. 

How strong I am. Having anxiety is no easy feat. Going through your day while trying to make it look like there’s a full-on battle internally is a whole other issue. It ebbs and flows and you have to go day by day. When it becomes a lot, I tell myself that I’ve survived through all of the days I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it through. It’s taught me that I’m resilient and how, while it feels like I’m weak, I’m incredibly strong mentally to keep going forward in the hopes things will become better. 

Finally, it’s taught me that I’m not alone in my struggles. It can feel isolating and no one understands what you’re going through. I consider myself blessed to have friends and family who have opened up about their mental health, what’s worked for them and just being able to have people who say “I get what you’re going through.” Even social media has provided me with great advice and motivation from other people who put their reassurances online. To know that I’m not having to deal with this huge weight on my shoulders alone has been comforting enough. 

Are there days where my anxiety still makes me question its helpfulness? Of course. However, while it’s still a pain most days, it’s allowed me to adopt a new mindset where I give myself more grace, patience and a reminder I can get through anything.

Courtesy Emma Johnson

Write to Emma Johnson at

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