Previously I wrote a post about my goals for this blog, and in it I mentioned that someone told me to do yoga to reduce anxiety.
While I do believe there are nothing but benefits to doing yoga, I have to explain this backstory, and how wrong this person was.
First of all, this wasn’t any ‘person’, it was my manager at the time.
I went to him to confess that I was having trouble with my anxiety because every day I was expected to come in to the office but I had no assigned seat.
My hope that was by telling him this, he’d either make sure I had a permanent desk, or he’d allow me to work from home.
I was already a part of the work from home program at work, so technically I was allowed to work from home.
But the new manager had new rules, and I was just trying to be respectful. My only ask was that I had a desk to sit at.
I thought it was a simple request. His response was something like: “Anxiety is all in your head. It’s a man-made affliction. Try counting backwards from 100.”
At that moment I lost all respect. He made no attempt to understand, he just told me I was giving myself anxiety.
Like I was choosing this lifestyle.
He then went on to say, “Have you ever tried yoga? Yoga will help.”
I had already checked out from this conversation. He could have told me about the fountain of youth and cure of all diseases and I’d have ignored him.
Why? Because he was trying to solve a problem he didn’t understand.
Oh, I’m just overthinking, you say? Yes then, I should try counting backwards. Maybe by the time I get to 1, I will realize that it’s all in my head.
Yoga? Meditation? Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)? Magic cures, right there.
Why didn’t I think of that?
Different Solutions for Different People
The truth is that all of these things will work. I know this. But they don’t work all the time for all people.
For example, I love yoga and meditation, but I can’t stand CBT.
I’ve had a number of people tell me all about CBT and how it works for them, and how I can borrow all their textbooks and workbooks, and I can make it work for me too.
I’ve tried it. I didn’t like it. For the most part, it actually made things worse for me.
So no, this is not a cure, for me. It really does work for lots of others though, so I’d still recommend trying it for those with anxiety who haven’t yet gone down this road.
I have done tons of yoga and meditation, however. For yoga, I took courses, went to classes, and read books.
Meditation, pretty much the same, although I’m more comfortable practicing meditation at home by myself.
Both practices can help reduce anxiety, for sure.
Yoga is a funny one, because while I’m doing yoga in a classroom full of people, my anxiety increases. There’s no way around this.
But it does wonders for the body and, eventually, the mind too. I have a lot of anxiety leading up to the class, and during, but afterwards I feel better for it.
Yoga is something I would recommend to anyone, not just those suffering from anxiety. However, for us sufferers, we just need to be aware.
We need to mentally prepare for the effects it can have.
If the classroom setting is too much, then buy a DVD and do it from home.
For a little while, I was doing yoga with my son. I found a free link for beginners that we could watch from the computer, and he and I would just get out mats and go.
The best part was that he willingly joined me. I never asked him to. It wasn’t a chore for him. He wanted to do yoga with me, and so he did.
That was the best time for me. That worked for reducing anxiety.
It wasn’t a magic pill. It required work, and I had to prepare to battle anxiety each time, but the after effects were worth it.
It was worth it to me.
But just like CBT didn’t work for me, I know that yoga might not work for everyone else.
There is No Quick Fix to Reduce Anxiety
There is no single right way. There is no cure.
There are only paths we can take to keep anxiety at bay. We have to work at it. We have to try new paths.
We can reduce anxiety, but we will never be able to rid ourselves completely.
Meditation and breathing exercises help me smother anxiety, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get anxiety anymore.
I always feel anxiety – I’m just learning to push it down. I’m learning to control it. But this takes a lot of work and a combination of different methods.
Telling someone to ‘count backwards from 100’ and ‘do yoga’ like it will make anxiety disappear, is just plain ignorant.
Unless someone comes to you explicitly with a “how do I reduce anxiety” question, please do not try to problem solve.
Do not offer solutions to a problem that you’ve never had.
This is the equivalent of giving parenting advice when you’ve never had kids.
The best thing you can do when someone comes to you with their anxiety concerns, is listen. Be compassionate. Be understanding.
That’s really all there is to it. We’re walking down a path and we just want some company.
If we ask for advice or an opinion, please make sure you hear what is being asked before attempting to solve a problem that’s not yours to solve.
I really just needed a desk… not a magic pill for a disorder you know nothing about.