The Fit Student—Careers to Combat Anxiety

Does a cup of coffee trigger jitters that burst into an anxiety attack?  If so, don’t feel like your career is doomed.  Not at all!  Instead, discover your passions.  Your passions might relate to therapies that reduce—even cure—anxiety.  Now that’s a win-win for anyone with anxiety disorder.

I cured myself of anxiety.  I haven’t had an anxiety attack in almost four years.  In truth, I can’t remember how long it’s been.  But I used to have anxiety attacks nearly daily.  And for months, I had attacks every day.  Seven-hour anxiety attacks.  Like Friday the 13th on Redbull.

When I was searching for a cure, I marveled over my calmest moments.  For one, journaling, budgeting, and list-making soothed me.  (I have the most extensive New Year’s resolution lists imaginable.)  For another, designing digital art calmed me.  And for still another, nutrition and exercise kept me sane.  On the flipside, I’d stress when programming code.  Thus, I noticed patterns.

But consider this pattern: art therapy, woodwork, exercise therapy, music therapy, pet therapy, horticultural therapy, nutrition, and journaling de-stress many with anxiety.  So, why not consider these therapies as careers?  Become a designer.  Write ad copy for a studio.  Build cabinets.  Become a personal trainer.  Groom pets.  And don’t shy away from making these therapies full-time gigs.  After all, full-time work is where opportunity lives.

Why do I recommend full-time?  Well, freelance work frustrated me.  I taught English online to Japanese speakers.  (I’ve noticed many people prone to anxiety teach ESL online.)  I worked countless hours for pennies.  Worse, all the other remote careers I searched went to freelancers overseas.  So, those jobs were out, too.  Thus, I turned to full-time work.

But for you to effectively work full-time, first soften your stress.  Use strategies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, journaling, meditation, exercise, nutrition—and every other tactic.  Learn them all.  I know you can cure your anxiety—no matter how severe.  And, once you cure yourself, find low stress careers—mainly jobs that stir your passions.  Even make the most of a high-stress passion.  Passion, in any shape, reduces risk of relapse.

But you might not know what your passions are.  If not, ask yourself what fun kept you busy as a kid.  Did you paint and draw, push a Tonka truck, or play video games?  Your childhood joy reveals tons about your passions.

After you consider your childhood, look to your adulthood playtime.  What hobbies keep you fixated in a state of flow?  Flow is a relaxed state—the best state for anyone prone to anxiety.  Do you love to bake, knit, or tinker on vehicles?  If so, my guess is your fixation found you; it’s now time to fixate on it.

But if you can’t think of a single passion, then experiment.  Consider tasks that stirred your curiosity, but you shied away from trying.  Take cues from boardgames and videogames you loved.  If you loved the boardgame Stock Ticker, you might find your social anxiety eases trading stocks in your PJs.

And once you find your passion, study it nonstop.  You can find free or cheap classes online.  Try for sale-priced masterclasses, take advantage of AUSU’s Linked-in Learning.  Seek out top-ten rated podcasts and newsletters related to your passion.  Try a monthly subscription to Skillshare courses.  But whatever you set out to learn, do so with a single-minded focus.  Make it an obsession.  That way, you’ll lower the learning curve.

So, cut out coffee and kick in the hobby.  It’s your time to defeat anxiety, gain skills, and win that therapeutic career.