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Lessons My Anxiety Has Taught Me

There's no doubt that anxiety can be debilitating. But it can also be a powerful teacher. If you're willing to listen, anxiety can teach you some important lessons. These are lessons that you can carry with you in all facets of life, that will teach you to become more patient and open-minded and that will help you manage healthy relationships (both with yourself and with others).


For example, anxiety can teach you to be more present. When you're anxious, your mind is always racing ahead to what could go wrong. This can make it difficult to enjoy the moment you're in. But with practice, you can learn to focus on the present and appreciate the good things in your life, even when anxiety is present.



Anxiety can also teach you to be more resilient. When you face anxiety head-on, you realize that you're capable of handling more than you may have thought you were. This can give you the strength to face other challenges in your life when they come along. Suddenly, these challenges will seem less scary and more conquerable.


And finally, anxiety can teach you to appreciate life more. When you live with anxiety, you know that life is precious and fragile. This can lead you to cherish the moment and make the most of every day. Plus, if you’re practicing mindfulness regularly to keep your anxiety in check, you’re further building your present-moment skills. Appreciating life as it comes is a great skill to have. It means living more fully in each minute you’re given.


From a reader…


How can having a mental illness teach me anything good? That’s what I used to think. Anxiety is no walk in the park. It is difficult, annoying, and scary at times. But, reflecting back, I can now admit that living with it has taught me many life lessons throughout the years.


I have been experiencing anxiety since before I even knew what having anxiety meant.

I think my symptoms of anxiety became most noticeable to me in sixth grade. I remember not understanding why I would feel like I could hardly breathe when thinking about a project I had to finish or replaying scenarios over and over in my head after they had already happened. I felt unwell and incredibly nervous. Yet, as I looked around me, everyone else seemed calm and collected. This made me feel very alone.


At this age, I was not educated on what anxiety is and couldn’t understand why I was feeling this way. Why did talking to a new person terrify me so much? Why did a bad grade keep me up at night for a week? Why did I feel like I was going to faint whenever I had to present a school project?


As I got older and learned more about anxiety, I started to understand myself more. I started to connect my thoughts and actions to many of the symptoms I learned are connected to anxiety. While it was not easy to think that I most likely was suffering from a mental illness, it brought me some peace to know my feelings were valid.


I continued to suffer in silence until my freshman year of high school where I finally received a diagnosis and a treatment plan from a therapist. I started taking medication prescribed by a psychiatrist, which helped me manage my symptoms. I also researched a lot about anxiety and how to live a healthy life with it.


I found journaling around the same time and exercise really helped me, even if this just meant doing a couple of laps around the subdivision we lived in. This was crucial for me during high school when my anxiety was at an all-time high. School, peer drama, and relationships always brought me the most anxiety. I had always been super uptight about my grades and my expectations of myself. But after a while I learned how to balance work, school, and my relationships.


It has taken me a long time to learn how to not let my anxiety affect those around me. The hardest part has been learning how to not let my anxiety negatively affect my friends, connection with family members or intimate partnerships. I would constantly express my anxiety to my partner, take my bad mood out on him, and fill him with my irrational thoughts and worries; making him anxious in return while also trying to comfort me.


I wasn’t aware of what I was doing until my partner opened up to me. I felt terrible that my anxiety was affecting him and decided it was time to make a change. I started to journal about my feelings more frequently or talk them out with a friend or my therapist before going to him, which normally helped me feel better. I learned to not immediately act on every thought my anxiety brought into my mind.


Overall, my anxiety has taught me how to be more self-aware, manage my time, and allow myself to make mistakes. This is the silver lining, and it’s helped me love and appreciate myself while also maintaining healthy boundaries with others.

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