Get Outside Yourself: Helping Others Is The Perfect Remedy For Anxiety

by Zara Barrie

Do you struggle with overwhelming heaps of anxiety that can feel all-consuming? Are you often overcome with rapid heart palpitations for no logical reason?

Do you ever find yourself lost in a teeming sea of dark thoughts that are almost paralyzing and debilitating?

Do you sometimes lie awake deep into the night, eyes wide open, frozen with fear of what the great future beholds? Do you torture yourself with panic-driven thoughts about love, your career, the point of it all?

Well, if you can answer “yes” to one or more of the aforementioned questions, welcome to the family, kittens. You’re an anxious little entity just like me.

Don't worry, we're not entirely f*cked. I promise.

While struggling with anxiety can be extremely harrowing and can make life feel like a never-ending uphill climb -- I've discovered a few hidden treasures peppered into our hyped-up existence.

See, energy, all energy, is powerful. And when you have a lot of it, which us anxious creatures do, it can be massively overwhelming.

If you have no outlet, that energy doesn’t have anywhere to go. There is no release for it.

So it manifests itself in miserable, destructive ways. Like panic attacks, and sleeplessness and unwanted, negative thoughts that tug at your spirit incessantly.

Part of the reason you're so anxious is because you’re highly tuned into the world that surrounds you. You don't have that protective shield and feel the pain of the universe. You're an empath. You have the ability to absorb hurt that isn't yours.

Which can be an unexpected gift. About five years ago, I discovered the best way to keep the anxious thoughts at bay -- by shifting the focus and getting outside of myself.

To take the heaps of electric, dizzying, anxious energy and channel it into helping others.

I started to work with kids. I began to really, truly, madly, deeply listen to my friends and dedicate every fiber of my being into helping them succeed and work through a heartbreak. I counseled teenagers. I based the core of my life around being of service to others.

I found I was really f*cking good at it, too. My lifelong battle with anxiety and depression had provided me with a great understanding and lack of judgment toward others. People felt inherently comfortable around me, and I was able to make them feel better.

Anxious people are great at reading people; our intuitive nature makes others feel safe. See, it's not so bad to be anxious -- you just have to know what to do with it.

Herein lies the real beauty: As I healed others, I began to heal myself.

I learned that helping others was the perfect remedy for my anxiety.

It gives you perspective.

Sometimes, we feel so absorbed with our own negative thoughts and feel so painfully anxious because our worlds are too damn small. We see the same faces day after day and trudge along to the same ceaseless job.

When we’re living in such tiny, minuscule bubbles, it's easy to lose our perspective. The littlest problems become wildly magnified inside our microscopic orbits.

When you step outside the comforts of your small world and start helping other people, it brings you back to reality. You realize you’re not the only one who feels such pain, and you're reminded of how strong humanity is.

You will see people overcome such incredible adversity, and it inspires you to do the same in your life.

It cultivates gratitude.

Helping others who are battling through troubling times in their lives cultivates a cycle of gratitude.

When we take the time to listen to people’s problems, to really, truly listen to them and hear what they have to say and offer them our support -- at some point or another, they will thank us.

And it's not a superficial “thank you” -- it's a f*cking real thank you.

When you're so used to living inside your own narcissistic headspace -- it feels amazing to know you can get out of your head and impact someone else in a positive way.

Gratitude has a ripple effect. When someone bestows a helping of authentic, agenda-free "thank yous" onto us, we can't help but feel it back.

We start to notice things we've never noticed before -- like all the incredible friends we really have and all the ways in which we've been endlessly blessed.

Feeling grateful is the most soothing, humbling sensation. It's akin to a natural Xanax.

It provides you with skin-deep confidence.

Part of the reason we feel so shackled to the anxious life is because we're forever relying on superficial sources for validation.

Our entire spectrum of self-esteem is dictated by outside sources: approval for the way we look, being deemed beautiful by the masses, being called “smart,” attaining success at work. All are nice, but they're fleeting feelings because they don't promote confidence that comes from within. They're temporary feel-goods.

When you start helping others, you learn the true beauty in doing something for zero validation. You do it because it makes you feel good, not for money or compliments.

You see the impact of your words and actions. It affirms your worth and greater purpose in the world, in a deep and powerful way.

It’s also something no one can ever take away from you. People can stop calling you beautiful or be nasty to you because they’re having a bad day -- but the good work you do to help another person is everlasting.

It gets you outside of your own head

I’m a girl who very easily gets stuck in her own head. If left to my own devices, I can live entirely in the confines of my own mind.

My natural tendency in times of desperation is to pull back. I neglect my friends, take to my bed and pull the sheets over my head whilst hiding from the cruel, cold world.

It’s a slippery slope. When you stay inside your own head for so damn long, you can grow very, very alienated and feel extreme pangs of relentless loneliness.

When you start to help others, regardless of if it’s at a pet shelter, working with kids, working with the elderly -- it gets you out of your f*cking head and shifts the focus elsewhere.

You become part of the positive energy in the world.

The world can feel like it's engulfed in negativity. There is darkness all around us. For the sensitive soul, sometimes it can feel like all too much to bear.

I believe people who are susceptible to depression and anxiety are actually very special human beings. For we are the great feelers of the world, and the world needs us.

Because we’re so sensitive and so keyed into the energies of the universe, it’s easy for us to get pulled into the dark side. The dark side is powerful and can eat you alive.

When you start helping others, you get pulled back into the positive spectrum of energy. Yes, you might see some things that are devastating, you might hear stories that will make you want to cry your eyes out, but come on, sensitive sister.

You already knew all of that stuff was going on -- and now, now YOU get to be the person who helps turn it around.

You become an active part of the positive energy in the universe. Instead of stewing in the darkness, you are a part of the positive change that makes the world a more beautiful place.

I believe the universe is responsive to whatever we throw out. If we're throwing ourselves into being of service to those who need our help, we're going to get that good f*cking energy thrown right back at us.