To Overcome Anxiety, Divide and Conquer

Divide and conquer to overcome anxiety. Overcoming anxiety is a common, if not universal, goal among those of us who experience anxiety in any of its forms (Types of Anxiety Disorders: List of Anxiety Disorders). Unfortunately, doing so can be a daunting challenge that eventually begins to seem impossible. Fortunately, overcoming anxiety is not impossible, and it doesn't even have to be daunting. One way to move past anxiety is to divide and conquer; in other words, break anxiety down into manageable bits and reduce it piece by piece with intentional action.

Why Anxiety Can Seem Hard to Overcome

It truly is possible to overcome anxiety. It can seem overwhelming, especially when anxiety is one big problem. Here's how to overcome anxiety. Read this.."Anxiety" is a term, a concept in the world of psychology and mental health. It's a little word that encompasses an ocean of issues. "Anxiety" refers to the way people think. It refers to emotions and how we feel. Anxiety refers to behavior, actions we take or don't take because of worries, fears, guilt, regret, and more. Anxiety pertains to a large group of signs and symptoms. "Anxiety" encompasses a lot of things, and for that reason it is overwhelming and can feel impossible to overcome.

The truth, though, is that "anxiety" is merely a word. Yes, it has deep meaning and can greatly impact our lives, but the word itself is nothing more than a group of letters. When we realize that, we can step back from anxiety as one, big, overwhelming ocean that is drowning us and break it into manageable bits. We can divide and conquer and overcome anxiety.

Dividing and Conquering to Overcome Anxiety

When we see anxiety as one big, overwhelming picture, we can feel as though the ocean is one gigantic wave crashing upon us and holding us under water. Breaking it into bits, dividing anxiety into separate pieces--individual waves--allows us to conquer it.

There are manageable ways to divide and conquer anxiety, such as this plan:

  1. Spend some time with it. Study it to understand your specific symptoms and how anxiety is bothering you and limiting your life.
  2. Divide. Now that you know some specifics about it, you know where you can break it apart. Awareness of your own anxiety lets you see the pieces of it.
  3. Contemplate those pieces. Which ones are the most troublesome, the most life-limiting? Pick one of the worst aspects of your anxiety, and separate it from the overwhelming word "anxiety." That's your first of a series of divisions that can take place over time.
  4. After the dividing, conquer. Looking only at that one bit of anxiety, ask yourself what your life will be like when that's no longer a problem. Be specific and describe what you will replace this bit with.
  5. Take purposeful action. Create an action plan that involves multiple small steps that you can take every day to work toward your goal and vision. It can even be helpful to divide these steps into little bits, such as focusing on what you can do each hour to overcome this part of anxiety.

When thought of as a huge concept, "anxiety" is overwhelming, drowning us with one, big, powerful wave. When we divide anxiety into manageable bits, we can take action to conquer it. Then, rather than drowning under the weight of a giant wave, we are surfing on a single wave. When that happens, we conquer our anxiety.

Let's connect. I blog here. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. My mental health novels, including one about severe anxiety, are here.

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2016, June 23). To Overcome Anxiety, Divide and Conquer, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, and Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps. She has also written five critically acclaimed, award-winning novels about life with mental health challenges. She delivers workshops for all ages and provides online and in-person mental health education for youth. She has shared information about creating a quality life on podcasts, summits, print and online interviews and articles, and at speaking events. Tanya is a Diplomate of the American Institution of Stress helping to educate others about stress and provide useful tools for handling it well in order to live a healthy and vibrant life. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

June, 23 2016 at 10:57 pm

To me, anxiety does not let me rest. Always worrying. Always seeing the worst. Mostly negative. Rarely positive. Darkness is what I see. No trust. Must learn to conquer these things. As the saying goes, You are what you think. Must break anxiety down. Simplier components. Must keep things simple.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Lynda V.
June, 24 2016 at 9:51 pm

I am 39 years old and have suffered with horrific anxiety and panic attacks since the age of 4. Every coping technique I try seems to work a few times, then my mind just goes off track again. My attacks are among the worst my Drs. have seen, they tell me....which is not helpful or positive to hear. I shake, sweat, lose control of my bowels and bladder, have projectile vomiting, choke, then fall to the ground and seize in my own mess. It is terrifying for me and any witnesses, as well as embarrassing and humiliating. I will not give up, though. I can't possibly be the only one who goes through this...I just wish I could find someone who experiences similar attacks.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 27 2016 at 10:20 am

Hello Lynda,
You are in the right place. HealthyPlace is a site to learn information, gain insights, and interact with others who are experiencing difficulties similar to your own. If you haven't already done so, you can go to the home page,, and explore the menus to discover ways to connect and interact. You truly aren't alone. While each person's experience of anxiety, panic, and other mental illnesses/disorders/challenges is unique, people can share similarities and support.

June, 27 2016 at 10:16 am

Hi John,
You've captured anxiety very well. It can be relentless, and it is inherently very harsh and negative. Keeping things simple, breaking thoughts and experiences down and dealing with individual pieces is very helpful. Of course it won't make anxiety and its effects immediately disappear (nothing does -- it's a gradual process), but doing this will help you feel more control, and it makes it easier to develop action plans to conquer first one piece, then another, then another.... Trust yourself.

John Daw
July, 2 2016 at 5:17 pm

I can definitely relate and wish nothing but the best for you and your journey with anxiety. I too find comfort in numbers and know that you cant just will the anxiety away and we all need a support group. If any of you want to be in a facebook community that focuses on the lighter side of anxiety to help it become "normal" you're more than welcome to chime in at:

August, 23 2016 at 5:35 pm

Anxiety has taken over me. Its hard to focus, everyday feels like its my last. And everybody keeps telling me its all in my head. The only things that seem to help are exercise and sleeping properly. oh and staying away from alcohol. I drank one time like 7 beers and the next day I wanted to go to the hospital. so to anybody dealing with anxiety please don't drink... it will cause high anxiety the next day.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 24 2016 at 9:39 am

Hi James,
Thank you for sharing what works for you. Exercise and sleep are proven to be effective to manage anxiety. You're right on about alcohol (and any substance) use. It's not uncommon for people to turn to substance use to deal with anxiety, but in reality, this makes anxiety worse. Regarding your experiences with anxiety, difficulty focusing and feeling like each day is your last are very common thoughts/sensations associated with anxiety. If your feelings become intense, reach out to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at or 1-800-273-TALK (8255). And it can be maddening when people tell you anxiety is in your head. That, too, is a common experience. Well-meaning people who don't quite understand anxiety often think that anxiety is simply something caused by an overactive imagination or a tendency to blow things out of proportion. As you know, that is not at all true. You don't have to accept these statements. Just because someone says something, that doesn't make it true. Anxiety actually is in your head -- in a much different way than people mean when they say this. Anxiety is brain-based, and when you experience anxiety, there are very real, physical things going on within the brain (which proves that it's not something you're making up). For more info, check out…. Finally, you might consider seeing a doctor to see if medication is in order and a therapist to help develop useful strategies so anxiety no longer overtakes you. Anxiety is a very real experience that negatively impacts quality of life. It's also something that, with persistence and patience, you can kick to the curb.

Cindy Dillon
February, 28 2019 at 3:35 pm

I have always thought i was a positive person an so did others that have been in my life an others i have met for the first time. What i always knew as being or knowing who i was, was being over emotional an picking up on feelings of others. I give you an empathic nature. Which consumes me. Until the point of breaking an realization of i can’t keep it in anymore. People are not seeing the bigger picture an I’m picking up on every feeling they have, whether or not it’s good or bad an thinking sometimes it’s all bad because of something I had done in the past an guilt of carrying it. I couldn’t understand why my own sister thought I was conceited or trying to show an portray a person that had only put a picture on social media of me and our mother that was very intimate an caring, an it made me happy just by seeing it, an she commented a very hateful reply? We talked about it later after I had been devastated because of it not knowing or understanding of why would she think of me that way? but when it was brought up of course she apologized, an I too, but was really never resolved. In my mind I thought it was but only to find out later it wasn’t an the fear of thinking she didn’t or maybe couldn’t get over the fact of me still doing it for different reasons also. The reason being stems from our childhood, a mother that was abused by our father, me being the baby of the family, and my sister always being nothing but loving an supportive to me an our mother but feeling hurt because of her inner demons an of course how I portrayed myself. I get it now, I just hope an pray the steps I take an the agreement I have written will help me, help my family understand. It’s a big step in having enough confidence where you’re afraid to even convey it for being thought wrong or saying something in fear of it being hurtful to another. So I will continue to learn, study, get help, an always be who I am, a very sensitive person that has only the best of intentions, but can make mistakes just like any human being, an pray I can cope with the decisions I make an how others react. Coping with a mental issue an abuse an drug addiction yes will lead to very intense anxiety. An that is why I’m seeking help, while trying to still have that sensitive empathy for anyone I meet or know an use it for what it’s meant to be used for, an what I have always thought this world needs more of...kindness, caring, understanding, love, without thinking of every one not thinking just like me, an strong enough to deal with the anxiety I have over it.

March, 3 2019 at 7:37 pm

Hi Cindy,
Have confidence in your ability to overcome the affects of abuse in your family, addiction, and anxiety. Having an agreement with yourself that is driven by your values and strengths. By focusing on those values and what they mean for your life right now, in the moment you're in, as well as the direction you want to move, you will shape your thoughts and your actions. And you'll be leaving the past and anxieties about the past behind. Keep doing what you're doing, and be patient with yourself as you work toward the life and relationships you desire.

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