Anxiety is a Weed in Your Garden

Human beings are much like beautiful gardens. Within each of us are many different types of lovely flowers. Everyone’s garden is unique to him or her; indeed, we have different flowers—different personality traits, strengths and talents, and interests and abilities. That said, all of our inner gardens, like the dirt-and-plant sort, have a similarity. They can become peppered with, and even overrun by, weeds. For people, a very common, very noxious weed is anxiety. What happens when our inner gardens become infested with the weed of anxiety, and what can we do about it?

Everyone experiences anxiety. Everyone. It’s part of being human and thus is part of our inner gardens. (Some experts call this existential anxiety as it relates to our very lives, our existence on this planet.) Sometimes, though, anxiety escalates into an anxiety disorder. (Explore the difference between ordinary anxiety and an anxiety disorder).

Effects of the Anxiety Weed

If anxiety lies low and doesn’t bother us too much, our gardens can flourish.

Unfortunately,People are beautiful gardens, and anxiety can be a weed that tries to overtake the flowers. Learn how to pull up that weed and rid yourself of anxiety. anxiety really can act like an insidious weed. It creeps, it chokes, it prickles, and it pokes. Like a weed in a garden, any anxiety disorder:

  • Takes root deep inside of us, and its roots finger their way painfully up and down our entire being;
  • Grows and overtakes our inner flowers, choking them and strangling our thoughts and emotions;
  • Wraps itself around us, sometimes so tightly we remain paralyzed in one place rather than moving to a new spot away from the weeds;
  • Stabs us with its thorns so we painfully feel its physical effects;
  • Demands our attention so that, like the gardener obsessed with his/her weeds, we become obsessed with our anxiety; no longer can we live the beauty of our own garden because we are looking only at the anxiety that has overgrown almost everything inside.

Garending 101: How to Begin to Remove the Anxiety Weed

When the weed of anxiety has overtaken so much of our inner selves, it often feels like all hope is lost and that the weeds have won. That’s just an illusion created by the weed. The flowers are still there, and you, as your own gardener, can help them thrive.

  • Look at your garden not as an overwhelming whole, but as a collection of individual flowers (strengths, interests, etc.). Where is anxiety most bothersome? Start with just that simple area and begin to unravel the anxiety flower by flower. It’s not so overwhelming that way.
  • Don’t yank at the weed. You may remove a few “leaves,” but it won’t truly disappear. It’s much more effective to be patient and gentle with it and to care more for the flowers under it than the weed itself.
  • Go after the roots. If you’ve ever tried to pull up a dandelion, you probably know that if you just pull at the stem, a new one will grow. You have to dig gently down, loosen the roots, and gradually extract the plant. Gently get to the root of your anxiety, and when you do, you can address it and remove it from your garden.
  • Sometimes pharmaceuticals are used to remove both weeds and anxiety. Some things are dangerous and toxic, so consult with a doctor and stick with what’s safe. Otherwise you’ll damage your flowers in the process of going after the weed.

Even when anxiety overruns your garden, the garden isn’t gone and you are still there. Your status as a beautiful flower hasn’t changed at all. Anxiety weeds might have grown among your flowers, but you can, bit by bit, tend to that pesky weed and reclaim your garden.

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APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2014, May 21). Anxiety is a Weed in Your Garden, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 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.

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