They want to hold you with their grubby paws and keep you rooted to the same spot.
When anxiety and panic are consuming you, it’s deciding to take a small step in a different direction that will produce a different result.
Small steps are all it takes.
It’s the small steps that will take you in a different direction and make all the difference for you.
These small steps will break the pattern of anxiety and panic, so they no longer have a hold on you.
The next time anxiety and panic are trying to grip you, give these 17 small but powerful steps a try. They could produce a very different result for you.
#1: Point your body where you want your mind to go
When you get anxious and panicky, you naturally want to stay in the same spot. By doing that, you’re allowing all the worrying thoughts to consume you. Get up. Go do something. Anything but stay in the same spot. When you change your physical state, you change your mental state.
#2: Close off the ‘what if…’
What if… what? Don’t jump from one what if scenario to the next. Finish off the what if… Rational thinking will tell you things rarely ever get as bad as your worrying thoughts will have you believe.
#3: Become present
The past has gone. The future hasn’t happened yet. The only thing that is real is this moment, right now. Let this profound appreciation melt your trouble away.
#4: Go for a walk, jog, run or drive
This is a reminder of point #1 because it’s the most effective. Go see what nature can offer you. Breathe in the air. Go for a drive, even if you have nowhere in particular to be. Anything but stay rooted to the same spot.
#5: Go people watch
Get out of the house and go to a cafe or some other public place. Just sit and observe. Take in your surroundings and get out of your head.
#6: Put your headphones on
Silence is a breeding ground for worrying thoughts. Listen to some music – any music. Let it influence your mood.
#7: Get away from negativity
Is someone (a toxic person) increasing your anxiety and panic? Get away from them. Distance yourself from them until you feel you’re in a better mental place to deal with them (if you have to).
When you internalise your anxiety and panic, it makes it ten times worse than it actually is. Talk about how you’re feeling. Speak to a friend or family member. If you need someone impartial, speak to a counsellor.
#9: Watch some comedy
You might not feel like laughing, but that’s the point. You’ve got to make an effort to change your state of mind if you want a different state of mind. Put your favourite funny film or comedian on, and let the laughter in.
#10: Get angry
Anger is an emotion that will supersede anxiety and panic. Get angry. Tell the internal bully you’re no longer willing to put up with the BS.
#11: Get grateful
Like anger, gratitude is an emotion that supersedes anxiety and panic. When you’re grateful for what you have, rather than worrying about what you haven’t got, that is a powerful state of mind.
#12: Let go
Immediately embrace the fact that you don’t have 100% control. Let go of that need to control. Set it free.
Keep It Simple, Stupid. Anxiety has a habit of overcomplicating everything. Have you taken a second to really appreciate what you’re getting anxious and panicky about? Is it worth it?
#14: Lower your expectations
You’re a perfectionist. You want things to be perfect. Yet, they never will be. Let go of the perfectionism and accept that what you do and who you are is good enough.
#15: Stay away from Dr Google
Doctors come in all shapes and sizes, good and bad. There is no worse doctor than Dr Google. He has the worst case scenario and diagnosis for any anxiety-related symptom you can type. Stay away from his surgery.
#16: Don’t care as much
Sounds a little cold, but being highly anxious and panicky means you’re caring too much about something. Try not caring as much.
#17: Remember who you are
You’ve got through 100% of your problems. It’s why you’re here. Don’t let anxiety or panic convince you that you’re weak. You’re not. You’re strong. Stronger than you give yourself credit for. Remember that the next time anxiety and panic tries to mess with you.
There are two sides to bullying. (1) the bully, and (2) the victim.
For a bully to do what they do, there needs to be a victim.
You might not have chosen to get bullied, but being a victim is a choice.
When it comes to being bullied by panic attacks, we can choose not to be a victim any longer.
The surprising connection between a bully and a panic attack
Panic attacks and bullies operate in the same way.
Panic attacks can only exist in a highly anxious, vulnerable state of mind. That is where they flourish. With all the ‘what if’s. . .’, there’s plenty of fuel to stoke the fire of panic.
When our minds are controlled and confident, there’s no victim – nothing for the panic attack to feed on.
What is a bully’s sole intention?
To inflict mental, emotional, and sometimes physical pain.
How does a bully achieve it?
Through intimidation, and by having the attention he craves. No attention means no fuel to stoke the fire.
Why does a bully, bully?
Who cares. Just know that a bully bullies because he can. Forget about understanding his twisted mentality and why he would want to inflict mental, emotional, and sometimes physical pain. Instead, focus on what matters. Focus on the choice you have.
When it comes to being bullied by panic attacks, you do have a choice. I want to make that choice clear to you.
Deal with the bully (panic attacks), or face them for the rest of your life.
Why do some people get bullied and others don’t? You might try and factor in physical presence, but you can guarantee there are examples of people with a bodybuilding physique who get bullied – just like there are examples of smaller people who don’t get bullied.
There will be lots of factors that dictate why some people get bullied and others don’t, but the overriding factor is being a victim.
When I say a bully bullies because he can, it’s because there has to be a victim for the bullying to take place.
Being a victim is a choice.
It’s not your fault if someone chooses to bully you, but it is your fault for letting it continue to happen.
Nobody said facing a bully is easy. But is it any harder than the prospect of dealing with panic attacks for the rest of your life?
Handing over your pocket money to the bully might prevent him from hitting you, but he’ll be back for more. The problem doesn’t go away.
Giving your pocket money away only compounds the problem and makes it worse. The more you do it and give in, the more the bully will expect you to do it.
You have to get to a place that says no more.
I don’t care how you get there, but you have to reach a level where you’re so pissed off with being pushed around, you’re not willing to take it any longer.
I found the best emotion to tap into for this is anger.
If you’re getting bullied by panic attacks, you should be angry.
Anger, when channelled in the right way, is an emotion that supersedes panic. It’s the quickest tool you can use to break the victim mentality.
Get frustrated. Get angry. Get however you need to get to create change.
Unlike your dad’s advice, I’m not telling you to punch the bully in the face. That’s the good thing about a panic attack. You don’t need to.
Anyway, punching yourself in the face won’t do you any good.
You are your own bully
When I say ‘you are your own bully’, I’m not suggesting you get a perverse pleasure in causing yourself mental pain. Of course you don’t. Nobody enjoys panicking and suffering a panic attack.
Your bully is born from habit.
Through patterns of habit and behaviour, your brain has associated things it shouldn’t with a threat to your survival. It’s this association that causes the panic (panic attacks). And it’s this way of thinking that makes you your own bully.
Everyday things like going to the supermarket and seeing friends become unachievable because of the state of mind you’ve created.
This state of mind gets unravelled and dealt with when you start seeing panic attacks for what they really are: bullies.
Confront the bully
The next time you feel the bully (panic attack) provoking you, I want you to say: ‘DO YOUR WORST!’. If you can, shout it. Get angry. You don’t have to verbally say it. Say it in your head. However you say it, mean it.
If there is one thing a bully doesn’t like, it’s confrontation.
That’s why, when you say ‘DO YOUR WORST!’, it won’t get worse – it will get better.
This is a trigger to remind yourself that you’re no longer willing to put up with panic attacks and the physical symptoms they cause any longer.
Like all bullies, pride might dictate that there is some initial retaliation. Pass through it. Keep getting angry, and keep confronting it.
It will soon get the message.
While you do this, please be comforted in the knowledge that a panic attack has NEVER caused anyone any physical harm, ever. Doesn’t this just go to prove that the fear we create is much worse than anything else we experience?
When we don’t fuel the fear (anxiety), there is nothing for the panic attack (bully) to work with.
I’ll repeat the choice that you have.
Deal with the bully (panic attacks), or face them for the rest of your life.
I used to have 4-5 severe panic attacks every day.
Since I’ve adopted this mentality, I’ve not had one since.
Does the bully try it on every now and again?
You bet it does.
While I’m facing new challenges and growing, I wouldn’t expect it any other way.
But now, when I ‘feel’ the sensations of a panic attack, I simply adopt the same physical and mental stance I always adopt.
Panic attacks are one of the worst physical symptoms of anxiety. What can we do when panic hits us, and what choices do we have?
At that moment, when panic attacks, it consumes us.
Panic convinces us that we’re trapped, and we’re so focused on our survival and getting through the panic, we forget that we do have options and choices.
Choices seem like the last thing we have when panic sets in, but we can do more than just allow the panic to consume us and take over.
Feeling trapped and believing our only option is to suffer the panic is part of the trick of panic. It’s a big reason why panic attacks are allowed to continue.
When we appreciate that we do have one more than choice, we can start to look at panic attacks in a different way.
We can look to control and stop them.
Here are five of our most popular reactions to panic attacks. One of them will make all the difference.
Choice #1: Fuel the fear and run
Throw the shopping basket on the floor, and run for your life.
Keep moving forward – run, walk, jog – do anything, as long as people can’t see the sweat on your forehead and the panic on your face as you have a panic attack. That would cause you great embarrassment.
What would people think if they could see me?
What people think matters, so continue to worry about what people are thinking and allow that worry and fear to stoke the fire (panic).
Like a steam train, watch as your fear keeps your panic chugging away and continues to get worse as you stoke the fire.
Choice #2: Question your sanity
Are these symptoms real?
Are they life-threatening?
Is it just indigestion?
Is it a migraine?
Should I call for an ambulance? I might look stupid.
Allow all the ‘what if. . .?’ thoughts to continue to fuel the panic and produce more thoughts about scenarios that will never happen.
Keep questioning your sanity and convincing yourself that you’re not normal.
Allow these negative beliefs to fuel your panic further.
Choice #3: Search Dr Google
Get out your phone or laptop and frantically type in your symptoms on Google.
Fuel the panic further as you read through the symptoms and life-threatening results, believing every word of them.
Spend the rest of your life in and out of doctor’s surgeries, getting more frustrated and disillusioned with every visit.
Make lots of trips to the hospital, seeing specialists and having tests, looking for a diagnosis – one you know you won’t get because deep down you know it’s anxiety.
Allow the constant need for reassurance to keep fuelling your panic.
Choice #4: Fight the panic
Fight the symptoms of panic.
Have a battle with the anxiety and panic, even though you know you can never win against something that is naturally within us all.
Continue to beat yourself up and become more and more disillusioned as you convince yourself your life will never change.
Waste all your energy so you get to a point where you feel like you have no fight left in you – vital energy that could have been used to overcome the panic.
Allow your lack of energy to continue the panic.
Choice #5: Accept the symptoms, stand firm, don’t fight and don’t stoke the fire
Accept the symptoms of panic, and when it hits, don’t fight it.
Say to yourself:
‘I recognise that I’m having a panic attack, but I also accept that it won’t last. It never has. No matter how much I panic, I know it’s never caused me any physical harm. I know it’s a fact that it can’t.’
Get immediate confidence and reassurance by knowing that a panic attack isn’t going to harm you – because it can’t.
A panic attack has NEVER caused physical harm to anyone.
It’s the unknown and ‘what if’s…’ that fuel the panic. This knowledge will help you get rid of these things instantly.
Stand firm, and recognise that, like a bully, panic feeds off fear.
When you give it nothing to feed on, the panic goes away.
Face the panic head-on, and shout out: ‘DO YOUR WORST!’. Shout it out in your head if you can’t do it publicly. Don’t worry about what other people are doing or thinking – that is not your worry or concern.
When you face the panic head-on, it won’t get worse. It will get better.
As your anger, determination and confidence grow, feel the symptoms continue to subside.
Know that when you don’t stoke the fire, panic has nothing to feed off.
As your panic is almost gone, smile. Thank anxiety for keeping you safe. Reassure it, and tell it, on this occasion it wasn’t needed. It was simply a false alarm.
Keep doing the things and visiting the places that cause you to panic, and keep telling your brain you’re OK. No need to panic.
With time and practise, watch as your anxiety and panic triggers ease each time you do these things – until you reach the point you no longer panic.
Choice #5 comes with its challenges. Facing up to a bully isn’t easy. But I can assure you of this: it is no more of a challenge than facing the prospect of being bullied by panic attacks for the rest of your life.
Toxic bosses are way up there when it comes to our stress and anxiety levels. How can you spot a toxic boss and, more importantly, what can you do about it?
The title of this post is Why Does My Toxic Boss Cause Me Stress & Anxiety?
The answer to the question is in the title.
A ‘toxic’ anything will always cause you stress and anxiety. Whether that be a toxic partner, friend, whoever.
But there is something extra shitty about contending with a toxic boss.
There are standout reasons why a toxic boss is consistently voted as one of the top causes of our stress and anxiety. Here’s just a few:
1. If you work full-time, you’ll be spending most of your time at work. That means you probably spend more time with your boss than you do your family!
2. There seem to be enough toxic bosses to go around the equator, twice. Because of that, the chances of you getting a toxic boss are moderate to high.
Let’s have a look at some toxic boss traits and the ways to deal with them. When we can identify a toxic boss, we can do something about them.
How to identify a toxic boss
Toxic bosses generally come in three categories.
#1: They know they’re a toxic boss but want to improve.
#2: They don’t know they’re a toxic boss.
#3: They know they’re a toxic boss but just don’t care.
Category number one isn’t too bad because they’re aware of their behaviour, and they’re trying to improve. If your toxic boss falls into this category there’s a good chance with time things might get better.
It’s category number two and three that you need to be most aware of.
These are the two categories that are the most dangerous and severe on your stress and anxiety levels.
If your boss doesn’t know they are toxic, who is going to tell them or convince them that something needs to change? And if your boss knows they are toxic but just doesn’t care, well, that’s as bad as it gets.
Whichever category your toxic boss falls under, there is no doubt they are making your life a living hell and something needs to be done!
Before we look at the three steps that will help you deal with a toxic boss, let’s have a look at some of the usual toxic boss traits. (Just in case you were in any doubt.)
A toxic boss:
Gets you to do things he wouldn’t do himself.
Excessively controls everything (even though they are crap at what they do and they get it wrong – badly wrong – and then blames you).
Looks after herself above anyone else.
Is always right.
Asks you to do something and then asks you why you did it the next day.
Is late and often absent when really needed.
Has no direction for their team or themselves.
Steals the glory.
Uses bullying tactics to get what they want.
You can probably add a few of your own to this list?
OK. So we’ve identified the most dangerous toxic bosses and toxic boss traits. Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty and discover how to deal with them.
Here are three steps to deal with a toxic boss.
How to deal with a toxic boss
STEP #1: Take responsibility and take control
A toxic boss’ behaviour is fundamentally based on bullying. And like all bullies, they can only successfully bully you if you are prepared to be a victim.
It’s important you understand this statement correctly.
Most people don’t choose to be a victim. You wouldn’t wait in a queue to sign up to get a toxic boss. Having a bad boss isn’t your fault. But allowing yourself to be a victim is your responsibility.
You have to take ownership of the issue (the toxic boss) if you’re going to do something about it.
And that means taking responsibility for the situation.
You can’t control your bad boss. It’s up to him how he acts. Trying to take control of him will most likely lead to more despair and disappointment.
Instead, take control of yourself – the thing that you do have control over.
Take responsibility by establishing what your boundaries are. Make the decision that you are no longer going to allow these boundaries to be breached by your toxic boss – that you are no longer going to be a victim and you’re going to do something about it.
Once you’ve come to this conclusion, the next step is to confront the behaviour.
STEP #2: Confront the behaviour
Nobody said confronting a bully is going to be easy.
But here’s the deal: It’s no more difficult than the prospect of working for a toxic boss for the rest of your life, being a victim, and suffering all the stress and anxiety that comes with that.
The stress and anxiety you get from confronting your toxic boss is nothing compared to the stress and anxiety you get from not doing it.
Common sense and logic will tell you that there is no sense in suffering.
The same goes for the fear of facing your manager.
The fear of facing your boss will never be as bad as the fear you get from not doing it – including the prospect of continuing to work for them for the next ten years.
Being assertive and not aggressive, you have to be prepared to confront your toxic boss and communicate how you feel and why you feel that way.
There is no moving forward unless there is communication.
If you can’t communicate with your toxic boss, move on. It’s a lost cause.
In this scenario, if you think it’s worthwhile talking to someone more senior, go ahead. It might not be your job to tell your toxic boss how bad they are. Just be realistic and mindful that this could cause further issues with your toxic boss – especially if they’re not open to improvement.
Once you’ve confronted the behaviour, the final step is to stick to your boundaries.
STEP #3: Stick to your boundaries
If you stop a bully from stealing your lunch money on Monday, but he tries again on Tuesday and you let him take it, he’ll just keep coming back for your lunch money and doing what he knows he can keep getting away with.
Consistency is the key to change.
Set your boundaries and stick to them at all costs.
Show your toxic boss (the bully) that you mean business.
You ain’t shifting, no matter what.
If anyone is shifting, it’s them – not you.
If you’re prepared to stick to your boundaries at all costs, there will be a few things that happen.
Like all bullies, your toxic boss will get tired of trying to bully you and will stop trying.
Your toxic boss will find another victim. (If you care for them, you’ll get them to read this too.)
Eventually, your toxic boss will get found out and fired. If the company you work for is any good, this will always be the case.
All of these options look pretty good, don’t they?
Toxic people come in many different shapes and sizes. Telling the good from the bad will seriously limit your anxiety. How can you tell who’s toxic and who isn’t?
Nobody is perfect, but odds would say that, right now, you have toxic people in your life.
Let’s define what I mean by toxic people:
Toxic people always have drama in their life (because they haven’t got enough going on in their own life).
Toxic people rarely have anything good to say, apart from when it’s about themselves.
Toxic people are quick to criticise and judge others.
Toxic people are manipulative.
Toxic people lie a lot and exaggerate the truth.
Toxic people rarely, if ever, apologise.
Toxic people believe their lives are perfect, and nobody else can get close to that perfection.
Toxic people make you feel like you need to prove yourself to them.
Toxic people use privately shared information against you when it suits them.
Toxic people are narcissistic and delusional about their self-worth.
Toxic people have a way of making everything be about them.
Toxic people have few friends.
Toxic people are quick to cut you out of their life.
Toxic people are deeply unhappy (but like to portray that this is far from the truth), and therefore take pleasure in bringing others down with them.
Ring any bells?
It’s the last point in this list that is the most important because toxic people will bring you down without hesitation.
Identifying toxic people in your life and doing something about them will prevent you from lots of unnecessary hardship and unhappiness – including anxiety and stress.
Because toxic people are like sinking ships.
Their lives are a mess, and they have absolutely no trouble or conscience about taking everybody else down with them.
In fact, it’s exactly what they want.
‘If I’m unhappy and miserable you can get a taste.’
Don’t take it personally. It rarely has anything to do with anyone specifically.
The truth is, toxic people don’t have anything of significance going on in their own lives, so they make it their job to create drama – and drama is always waiting around the corner.
If you’re the one closest to them (and you normally are because you are one of the few tolerating them and their behaviour), you’ll be the one to get the brunt of their dysfunctional behaviour.
Dealing with toxic people is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to deal with stress and anxiety, and here are five ways to do it.
#1: Don’t get sucked into the drama, gossip and negative energy of a toxic person.
Like a ticking time bomb, a toxic person will always have some drama up their sleeve. If you’re in the way, you’ll no doubt get caught up in the middle of it.
The only way to avoid the drama is not to get involved in it.
Distance yourself using number five on this list. You’ll never be able to stop the drama so don’t try. Just keep out of the way of it.
Gossiping about others is a common pastime for a toxic person, which is a little harder to avoid because everybody likes a good gossip, making it easy to get caught up in it.
Maybe you’ve been sucked in yourself? I know I have.
It’s incredibly difficult to break through the negativity of drama and gossip when it surrounds you. It can very quickly become your life, and before you know it, you’re in the middle of something that doesn’t involve you.
The negative energy that surrounds toxic people draws in other toxic people, so it’s common to find them in groups.
Being sucked into the negative energy tends to bring out the worse in you, so where you can, you should always stay out of the way of drama and gossip.
#2: Don’t get into an argument with a toxic person.
Talk is cheap, and words get bandied around with ease when you argue, especially when you argue with a toxic person.
Arguments can quickly turn into a petty war of he said this, and she said that.
It happens in all types of relationships every day, and I have no doubt you’ve got into such squabbles with your friends and family (toxic or otherwise).
Usually, you can get past these petty arguments, but there are occasions when you can’t – when you’re dealing with a toxic person.
An argument will almost always involve the toxic person using privately shared information against you, which has a tendency, again, to bring out the worse in you.
It’s hard to have a genuine and heartfelt conversation (or disagreement or argument) with a toxic person because they show little interest in how you are feeling.
It’s their way or the highway.
When you’re dealing with such apathy, there is little point in trying to reason.
Getting stuck in a heated debate serves little purpose. All it does is fuel their anger further – you have to remember in their eyes they are never wrong – so they end up doing something else highly dysfunctional, like threatening you or getting physically violent.
The other common trait of a toxic person is the ‘I’ll cut you out of my life, and you’ll never see me again’.
This is another example of their irrational behaviour. It’s always black or white because there is no reasoning, compromise, or rationality.
You simply can’t win with a toxic person, so it’s best not to try.
#3: Surround yourself with like-minded people.
It’s common sense really – the law of attraction.
If you surround yourself with negative, toxic people, it won’t be long before you sink to their level.
That’s why you have to surround yourself with like-minded, positive people.
Like-minded people tend to be on the same journey as you, and won’t have the time or inclination to try and dictate to you how you should live your life.
They won’t be looking at your yacht criticising it – they’ll be busy builder their own yacht.
Sit on your luxury yacht and keep sailing forward.
Pass the sinking ships with a smile on your face, and only invite like-minded people aboard.
4. Be confident, and stay polite with a toxic person.
A toxic person might be somebody very close to you, so it’s not always a straightforward situation.
You might have known them for years, and only just recognised their toxic behaviour.
You might work with them and don’t have a choice but to spend time with them.
You might have a deep love for them, and rather than want to distance yourself, you feel compelled to try and help them instead.
If it’s the latter, I love your loyalty, but you need to be aware that a leopard rarely changes its spots.
In other words, you’re going to find it incredibly difficult to change a toxic person because ultimately, they are who they are – whoever they are and however close you are to them.
Whatever the scenario, be sure to be confident and polite with a toxic person.
They will sense any form of weakness, and they will take advantage and prey on it.
Give a toxic person an inch, and they’ll take a mile!
By being polite and confident, you’re not giving them any reason to take advantage of you and your good nature. They also have no good reason to try and afflict you with their behaviour.
Like a bully, they will get bored and move on.
It’s only when they get to a stage in their life when nobody tolerates their behaviour, and they become socially isolated, they start to appreciate they need to change their behaviour.
But, with the best will in the world, it may never happen.
None of this is your concern.
It’s best to focus on yourself, rather than try to control other people and their actions.
#5: Limit your time spent with toxic people, and consider cutting them out of your life.
The most effective solution to dealing with toxic people is to cut them out of your life, and at the very minimum, keep them at arm’s length. Otherwise, you risk sinking with the ship.
I know it comes across as harsh, and earlier I said that cutting people out of your life is a trait of toxic people, but there is no other long-term sound solution.
It’s the toxic person’s choice to be toxic – remember that – especially if the person/people are close to you.
It’s natural to feel guilt, almost as though you are abandoning them. You’re not. You’re becoming the best person you can be – and that will mean cutting toxic people out of your life.
You’ve outgrown their behaviour and it’s time to move on with your life.
Plus, you’ll quickly overcome this feeling of guilt because (1) you have nothing to feel guilty about, and (2) you’ll feel much better for it.
Everybody has off days. Even the most happy-go-lucky person will struggle sometimes.
Should you cut them out of your life?
Of course not!
You know the type of consistent toxic people I’m talking about – these are the ones you need to pay attention to.
If you’re ever in any doubt, go back to the list at the top of this article. If somebody is demonstrating these characteristics on a regular, consistent basis, it’s time to do something about it.