37 secret new year's resolutions from people with anxiety

Let’s be real — the new year doesn’t really mean you’ll magically transform into a “new you.” We wouldn’t want that, anyway. The “old you” has some fantastic qualities. But like any time-marker, New Year’s can be a period to reflect on your personal goals and where you want to be in the future.

And if this New Year’s your resolution is about taking better care of yourself or better managing your anxiety, there’s nothing wrong with that.

We asked people in our Mighty community who live with anxiety to tell us a New Year’s resolution they wouldn’t say out loud.

Here’s what they’re hoping for next year:

1. “To get out of my damn head.”

"To get out of my damn head."

2. “I want to work on phone anxiety so I can fix my insurance issue and seek professional help.”

3. “To be able to express myself when I’m angry or hurt or need help.”

4. “I want to stop being my own worst critic. I resolve to be confident and proud of who I am and love the woman I see in the mirror.”

5. “To no longer feel ashamed or let those around me shame me for my illness.”

6. “To know my own voice in a deeper and more compassionate way, uncovering all the layers that anxiety and depression throw over me to shield me from the world. 2016 is my year for reclaiming my life and learning to live again, putting past traumas behind me and stepping boldly into the new.”

'To know my own voice in a deeper and more compassionate way, uncovering all the layers that anxiety and depression throw over me to shield me from the world.'

7. “To quit thinking about how everything could go wrong and just enjoy life for a change.”

8. “To just be still… so I can find peace again”

9. “To be able to be alone with my own mind for just five minutes without flipping through all the bad things that could possibly happen or be happening.”

10. “To be myself again. To discover myself apart from my anxiety.”

'To be myself again. To discover myself apart from my anxiety.'

11. “To not feel like a failure or a burden to people”

12. “To do at least one thing I’m afraid of each day. Your life begins when you reach beyond your comfort zone. Being paralyzed from fear will only enslave us within our own prison cells, our minds.”

13. “To not allow the behavior of others to determine my self-worth.”

14. “To not be in my head so much, to not overthink everything I say and do and to not hate myself.”

15. “I will not judge myself for my anxiety disorder; it is not a sign of weakness.”

'I will not judge myself for my anxiety disorder; it is not a sign of weakness.'

16. “To be able to control my anxiety better and to help my family understand what I’m going through so they don’t feel left in the dark.”

17. “To value myself.”

18. “I want to do things in 2016 because I want to, and not have to offer any other explanation.”

19. “To slowly overcome my fear of being in public places alone. I struggle with leaving the house, going in stores and most public places. I will overcome.”

20. “To challenge the negative voices in my head.”

'To challenge the negative voices in my head.'

21. “For inner peace.”

22. “One setback doesn’t make a relapse. It means I need to give myself a break. I need to work on believing that.”

23. “To learn to trust and let go. Stop overthinking things and embrace each moment, one at a time.”

24. “To leave the house more.”

'To leave the house more.'

25. “To not allow other people’s assumptions about my health and recovery dictate my victories or losses!”

26. “To be patient and kind with myself when my brain goes into a silly, anxious state.”

27. “To stop picking at my eyebrows when the breathing techniques aren’t working.”

28. “Care, of course. But stop caring so much.”

'Care, of course. But stop caring so much.'

29. “I want to be able to better handle the unexpected in 2016 and believe that I’m worth it.”

30. “To give myself a voice, literally and metaphorically — to say what I mean and mean what I say when I express myself.”

31. “I will get brave enough to apply for jobs in the field of work I went to school for.”

32. “To do the one thing my panic attacks have not allowed me to do in years: go to the grocery store alone on a Saturday morning.

33. “I will make the choice to be my own cheerleader.”

'I will make the choice to be my own cheerleader.'

34. “To be better, as well as more open with my loved ones, at vocalizing my real (and probably only perceived) anxiety. The cloud worsens and deepens and ultimately wins when kept quiet. Love and acceptance will set us free.”

35. “To try to accept myself and all my problems. To accept that I was born this way, it’s not a punishment for something I’ve done wrong and it doesn’t make me less of a person. I deserve love, and I need to love myself first.”

36. “To be vulnerable and open about the mental health aspects of my physical chronic illness, especially as I’m going through a very serious and scary flare-up, instead of joking off or minimizing how I’m feeling to others.”

37. “I need to start believing my existence was never meant to be an apology.”

'I need to start believing my existence was never meant to be an apology.'

*Some responses have been edited and shortened for brevity.

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Hello fellow adventurers,

It’s that wonderful time of the year: families are gathering, cookies are being baked and presents are being wrapped. It’s also a time of great anxiety and stress. Holidays tend to become hectic and family gatherings can be highly unpredictable, elevating the anxiety levels of everyone involved. I’m excited to see my family, but just thinking about and anticipating the next few days has put me into a constant state of anxiety.

There are several things I’ll be doing to combat my anxiety this Christmas. Here is “An Anxious Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays”:

Bring something to keep your hands busy. When my anxiety gets bad, I start to get fidgety. This usually translates to me playing with my hair and ultimately pulling it out (this is called trichotillomania). I’ll be carrying a small amount of Play-Doh with me to family gatherings. It’s easy to conceal and very effective. An alternative would be hair ties or rubber bands, however I usually end up breaking them, thus rendering them useless.

Find an isolated spot. Wherever you are, there’s a place you can go to be alone for a few minutes. If you’re at a relative’s house: ask them before the party gets started if there’s a room you can sit in away from everyone. That way, when your anxiety becomes hard to handle, you can just slip away quietly and come back when you’re ready.

Walk away from obnoxious people. I guarantee we’re all going to encounter that one family member, friend or stranger who is either drunk or just obnoxious by nature. These people are hard to get away from because they usually have booming voices that carry their political/social/whatever nonsense throughout the room. Avoid these people like they’re the plague.

Repeat a mantra to yourself. I don’t mean, “It’s almost over,” but rather something like, “I can do this,” or “I’m doing great” or “Everything is OK.” Mantras can be quite helpful in relieving anxiety and getting you through a tough situation.

Finally, remember how awesome you are. It doesn’t matter how successful so-and-so relative is or how excited a friend is because they just got engaged. Remember that they are also flawed and could be faking it. Nobody goes to a party and complains about all of their issues, they go and they brag about what positive things have occurred.

As my great friend S.W. says, “You are your own unique person, and that in itself is amazing. People don’t need to know how much you had to push yourself just to sit down at the table and stay there. You know that you have succeeded, and in the end that’s all that matters.”

What techniques do you use to get yourselves through the holidays? Let me know!

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Until next time,

~ K.D.

Follow this journey on Adventures of Shy Girl.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images


The holidays are a busy time of year — and my anxiety doesn’t like the hustle and bustle. The thought of the big one (Christmas) coming up makes me nervous. I used to love Christmas. Presents, family, an abundance of food and a guaranteed day off of school or work. Those are the ingredients to the type of Christmas I used to love.

So in the spirit of the holidays, here are five wonderful “gifts” my anxiety now gives me on Christmas.

1. The pressure of finding the “perfect” gift.

I don’t give people gifts. It’s not because I don’t want to get my loved ones anything, but the stress of finding the “perfect” gift is something I choose to avoid. I do have an easy out when all else fails: gift cards! But even gift cards are looked down upon.

2. Eating with an audience.

Eating with a large group of people is not ideal. Crowds bring out my “what if” thoughts. What if I choke? What if the food makes me sick? What if I hate the food, but feel guilty about not eating it? Having “what if” thoughts in front of a large group of people is a terrifying possibility. Also, one of the side effects of my anxiety is lack of appetite. How do I explain that to a family member who has spent all day cooking a delicious meal? “I can’t enjoy the food you worked on for hours because of anxiety. Sorry.”

3. Unsolicited family therapy sessions.

Talking to the family I see once a year presents multiple challenges. The biggest problem is knowing I’m faking it. I’m supposed to be interested in their lives, but, and this sounds mean, I’m not. Faking conversation makes me squirm. It’s even worse with the family members who know about my anxiety, but have no idea what I go through on a daily basis. Inevitably, they’ll ask me how I’m doing. If I say I panic frequently and I’m afraid to leave my house, they look at me like I’m crazy. Or, and this is worse, they offer unsolicited advice they swear helped someone they knew who had the same problem. I appreciate their assistance, but sometimes amateur psychology can do more harm than good.

4. Leaving my safe place.

Having Christmas away from home is horrible on so many levels. My home is my safe place. I have a routine here. I have a place to go whenever I need time to myself. I don’t have a safe place at my relatives’ house. When I panic, I have to scramble for a place to hide. If my life was a book, I would tear this chapter out and rip it to pieces. Christmas is supposed to be a time of happiness, so knowing I have to leave home is a direct blow to my comfort.

5. Driving anxiety.

This coincides with #4. Driving in a car for long distances is something I avoid unless it’s completely necessary. My first panic attack occurred in a car. I feel trapped, so the entire time I’m driving I’m going through a rollercoaster of emotions. Much like eating in groups, the car brings out so many “what ifs.” What if I panic in the middle of nowhere? Who will save me? What if I get stuck in a tunnel?

Then, after all those torturous thoughts, I get the pleasure of dragging my anxiety-drained body into a house full of bright and cheerful people. I imagine them looking at me like I’m a complete mess. Prolonged anxiety, like what happens after driving for a long time, makes me look ill. My skin is clammy and pale, and my eyes become bloodshot. This isn’t exactly the look I’m going for when visiting family.

Christmas has all the makings of being an incredibly positive time of year. There’s unselfish giving, the warmth of families reconnecting and, if you’re lucky, a gift or two. The fact that anxiety has the power to get in the way of that truly positive event is deflating.

So, if you notice someone at your Christmas gathering who doesn’t seem to be enjoying themselves as much as everyone else, give them some private attention. I know when I’m anxious, even though I look like I don’t want to talk, all I need is someone to pull me away from myself. Who better to help you through your anxiety than a loved one? Sure, they may not have all the answers, but at least they’re willing to try. For someone with anxiety, knowing we’re not alone in this is the best gift we can receive. Your offer to chat may be turned away, but your invitation may open up a conversation at a later time.

Follow this journey on We Are All Scared.

The Mighty is asking the following: As someone who lives with — or has a loved one with — a mental illness, what’s one thing that’s particularly challenging around the holidays? Why? What advice would give someone going through similar challenges? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


It’s time to “just get over” some myths about anxiety disorders (you know, like the myth that you can “just get over” one). The Mighty asked our readers who live with anxiety to share with us a myth about anxiety they’d like to see busted once and for all.

This is what they had to say:

Myth #1: It’s super easy to just “stop worrying” or “get over it.”

“These words happen way more than they should.” — Erin Attracta Degner

Myth #2: Anxiety is something to be ashamed of.

“The more open we are about [my son’s] condition, the more understanding and accepting other people will become. It’s not shameful to thoughtfully accept and treat any medical condition, and a mental condition is no exception.” — Lauren Swick Jordan

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Myth #3: You’ll absolutely grow out of it.

“I’m 35. Don’t think [growing out of it] will happen.” — Jennifer Rushton

Myth #4: You’re a weaker person because of panic attacks.

“I’m not weak, my mind just doesn’t work like yours.” — Shannon Handy Marrs

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Myth #5: Anxiety means you can’t be successful. 

“Just because I have moments where I can’t function very well doesn’t mean I spend every second that way. I’m anxious, not incapable.” — Michelle B. Landers

Myth #6: People who suffer from anxiety are all jumpy and constantly in a state of panic.

“We have good days and bad days, just like any other person. Some days I do really well with just a few anxious thoughts I’m able to push away. Other days, I’m completely consumed by my anxiety, and the thoughts spiral out of control to the point that I end up completely paralyzed.” — Hayley Lyvers

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Myth #7: Anxiety is just you being dramatic.

“[Anxiety] means I’m in a personal crisis and usually need help… even if it’s just a listening ear.” — Christina B. Lewis

Myth #8: Anxiety isn’t physical.

“I have spent more time being physically ill and in pain as a result of my anxiety than most people can imagine. It may be ‘all in my head’ but that doesn’t mean the continuous stress and fear isn’t taking a physical toll on my body.” — Hayley Lyvers

Myth #9: Anxiety attacks are always visible.

“Most of my anxiety attacks are completely silent.” — Arianne Gaudet

Myth #10: If you ‘just don’t think about it,’ you won’t worry about it.

“Yeah, like that’s even possible. Even though I know I’m anxious over nothing, I can’t stop [anxiety] from happening.” — Peggy Edge

Myth #11: You can control your anxiety.

“Many believe you can control your anxiety. Just choose not to feel it. Don’t let things get to you. Try to think of something else. They don’t realize how debilitating and paralyzing it can be. No one would choose to feel this way.” — Amanda Smith Martin

Myth #12: Anxiety is a choice.

“No one chooses general anxiety disorder.” — DeAnna Wry

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Myth #13: People with anxiety want to be alone all the time.

“I am a daughter, a sister, an auntie six times over, a best friend, a confidante, somebody’s soulmate, a caretaker and a kind stranger among many other things. My anxiety has no bearing on my very, very big heart.” — Lyss Trayers

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*Some answers have been edited and shortened. 


As negative as it sounds, I want to say thank you for not trying to understand my anxiety. Thank you for not analyzing me, which causes more anxiety. Thank you for the comfort of knowing I can get mad, sad or whatever — and that I won’t wake up the next morning to you packing your bags because you “can’t handle me” or because “I’m crazy.”

Thank you for never using those words.

Words I’ve heard from so many other people who thought they understood the constant back and forth battle of thoughts in my head. Yet, they all concluded I was crazy, irrational, overdramatic and a slur of other synonymous words.

Thank you for holding me tightly and not saying a word when there are a million words going through my mind and all I want to do was scream. For all the times I said a million words to you I didn’t mean. For just keeping your mouth shut because you knew I didn’t mean the vile things this monster in my mind said to you.

For never asking me why I’m mad about something so silly, because you know sometimes I don’t even know why. My guess is as good as yours.

It might sound silly, but I’m glad you don’t always understand it. I’m glad you don’t pretend to. I’m glad you’re strong enough to admit you don’t know what to say. It lets me know that it’s OK to not know everything. That it’s OK not to be OK. That it’s OK to not know why I can’t stop thinking about the “wrong thing” I said at dinner. You know, the thing everyone has already forgotten?

It’s good to know you don’t have all the answers, either. That it isn’t just me. You snap me out of the anxious dark world my mind has created and for a moment, I feel normal. All because you don’t pretend to understand.

Thank you for living through this mental illness with me.

The Mighty is for the following: Write a thank you note to someone who helped you through your mental illness. What about that person makes him or her a good ally? What do you want them to know? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


You stroll into a room full of people, and your body reacts as if a lion is about to attack. It’s anxiety — physically and mentally draining anxiety — and it can come without warning. How do we get through moments like these? For some, positive self-talk or repeating words or phrases can help when anxiety strikes.

We asked our Mighty readers who experience anxiety what they say to themselves to help manage anxious moments. If you need to borrow one these phrases today, we’re sure they won’t mind.

Try it out:

1. “It might not be OK now, but it will be OK soon enough.” — Kristy Hindman-Cook

"It might not be OK now, but it will be OK soon enough."

2. “I’m stronger than I think — I’ve been through this before and I’m still here.” — Mary Theresa Edwards

3. “Worrying is wasted energy.” — Amanda Davis

4. “It’s just a bad day, not a bad life.” — Ashley Bridges

5. “Come on panic, do your worst. Show me what you got.” — Judy Shofner

"Come on panic, do your worst. Show me what you got."

6. “I have PTSD and I say to myself, ‘This is not then.’” — Debera Gatlini Townlini 

7. “I am peace. I am calm. Breathe.” — Pamela Kozy

8. “I actually have to sing Disney movie songs to myself. I grew up on the classic Disney movies and the music reminds me of being a child. It calms me.” — Allison Bartels

9. “‘No.’ When I feel the spiral coming I say no out loud. It grounds me again; at least temporarily.” — Lindsey Hemphill 

10. “It’s only a moment.” — Laura Kathryn Tidwell Book

"It's only a moment."

11. “It’s OK, you’re OK, it’s OK.” — Vera Porrazzo-DeVito

12. “‘Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think,’ from Winnie The Pooh.” — Molly Ragland

13. “You are bigger than your fear!” — Lourie Strickland

14. “In five years, one year, one month, one week, one day and maybe even one hour, this won’t matter as much, if at all.” — Valerie Stipcak

"In five years, one year, one month, one week, one day and maybe even one hour, this won't matter as much, if at all."

15. “I am strong enough to get through this.” — Beth Buchanan

16. “Just breathe and write it down. Review what is stressing you out tomorrow.” — Victoria A. Kavanaugh

17. “I square my shoulders, correct my posture and whisper, ‘Be a Gryffindor, Ashlyn.’ Then I walk in with my head high.” — Ashlyn Nicole Rozell

18. “I have survived. I will survive again.” — Nathalie Heizenrader

"I have survived. I will survive again."

19. “I’m not in this alone!” — Lori Phillips Hampton

20. “My mom taught me to repeat the alphabet until I calmed down. I developed panic attack disorder in my late 20s, and Mom shared this wisdom with me in the waiting room of the hospital. Mom passed two years ago, but I still hold onto that alphabet like a toddler.” — Foo Schmitt

21. “Honestly, it’s not a phrase or sentence. It’s an image. I close my eyes and while I focus on my breathing. I think of my family.” — Alissa Nelson

22. “You have enough, you do enough, you are enough.” — Emma Welling

"You have enough, you do enough, you are enough."

23. “This is only temporary.” — Amber Cooley

24. “One day, one moment, one step at a time.” — Nicole Weaver

25. “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…” — Olivia Hayse

26. “I sing ‘God Bless America’ in my head! I keep singing it over and over until I’m calm.” — Alice Slaughter

27. “This too shall pass.” — Heather Dee

 "This too shall pass."

28. “Anxiety is overestimating the problem and underestimating my ability to deal with it.” — Emily Mathiak

29. “When I’m getting really anxious, I stand up, take a deep breath, put my arms above my head or out to my sides, and as I bend at the waist side-to-side I say, out loud, ‘I’m a tree. I can bend.’ It may sound dorky, but it helps me every time.” — Elizabeth Campbell

30. “I repeat to my self ‘just exhale.’” — Holva Dalmasi

31. “Anxiety is only a feeling, nothing more.” — Kayla Wientzek

32.Just keep swimming!” — Lena Darlington

"Just keep swimming!"

 

*Some answers have been edited and shortened.

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