Recently life has got a lot busier, what with work stepping up a gear or two and then deciding that I would hold a fundraising event in six weeks with no budget (more on that later). My favourite corner of the internet has had to take a back seat for a number of reasons, but as it’s always been my online sanctuary where I can reflect and share experiences, I thought that perhaps it’s about time I talk about something a little more personal.
How I deal with anxiety.
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People with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).
The A word. I’ve struggled to find the right words to express my personal experience with it, yet here I am (again) making an attempt to share my battle in the hope that it will help others – and perhaps in turn, help me too.
I remember my first anxiety attack like it was yesterday. It was 5 years ago this September. I was staying with family for the night and had plans to meet friends in town for drinks. I can’t quite recall what set off the severe worry and mental anguish, but I suddenly found myself hyperventilating on the floor with no power to stop the tears flowing. I didn’t know what was happening and I’m not sure how I managed to stop myself but somehow I fought back, and I’ve been fighting it ever since.
It’s normal to want to put your ‘best life’ out there for the world to see, particularly as a blogger. I’ve always been that girl who has had a smile on her face, regardless of the situation or mood I’m in. From a young age even strangers have complimented me on “what a lovely smile” I have, hopefully bringing a smile to their face too. I believe that when you show positivity through facial and body expressions it can travel deep, but when anxiety hits – it suddenly becomes a little more difficult. That smile almost becomes a mask, hiding any insecurities or worries you may have in that moment, making sure to not cause concern amongst friends, family or colleagues.
That feeling of weakness. Not knowing why you feel the way you do, or how to stop it. Feeling like you have no control over the moment which in turn makes the anxiety worse, as you worry about everything and anything. It can make you question your feelings and put unnecessary doubt into your mind. It can become a negative never-ending cycle that affect the most simple daily tasks. From texting a friend back to completing a to-do list at work, your focus suddenly shifts to ‘I just need to stop and breathe’. And you know what? That’s okay. Breathe. If your friend knows you well enough they will understand why you haven’t responded to a message, and your to-do list can roll over to another day if need be.
There are good days and there are bad days, and even on the good days something insignificant can trigger a ‘moment’ (as my boyfriend calls them), which can then spiral into panic mode. Some days it can be crippling, but ‘moments’ can also be fleeting. It’s something I’ve learnt to live with over the years, finding my own coping methods to deal with anxiety that works best for me. When I begin to give myself a hard time for not being the funniest, the smartest or the prettiest, I now know that it’s time to step back from the situation I’m in and reassess. Anxiety affects each individual in different ways and what works for me may not work for the next person, but as a blogger, I feel it’s only right that I use my platform to help raise awareness and show that it’s okay to talk about it.
Here are 7 steps that help me when anxiety strikes, and hopefully, will help some of you too…
Acceptance. Recognising you have anxiety is one thing, but accepting it and finding positive solutions is another hurdle that when faced, can become key in fighting it.
Honesty. This goes hand in hand with the above, but being honest about your feelings and knowing when to ask for help is so important. You should never feel embarrassed or alone.
Surround yourself with loved ones. Tell your nearest and dearest when you are struggling, and don’t be afraid to talk about any worries you may have. They may not understand, but they will quickly become your support network and be there for you on those down days.
Take a Time Out. A simple ‘time out’ can help reduce any concern that may be troubling you. Leave the room you are in and the people you are with for however long it takes to calm down, and choose an activity that makes you happy. I like watching back to back FRIENDS episodes.
Go for a walk. Exercise can help the mind in many ways, and a simple stroll around the block can release negative tension that may be unsettling you. Alternatively, put some music on and dance around the kitchen. That never fails!
Read positive quotes. I’m a firm believer that a quote can turn a negative mind set into something more positive. Words suddenly become a lot more powerful and meaningful when you’re feeling down, and I like to write down my favourites into a notebook that I can turn to on those ‘off’ days.
When all else fails, have a cuppa tea. Invite a friend over or arrange to meet them at a coffee shop. Whilst you may feel like you want to be alone, talking about how you feel or to keep your mind occupied with what someone else is doing can help significantly.
I’m lucky to have incredibly understanding and supportive friends and family around me, who I can turn to when I’m having a ‘moment’ and not feel judged. As scary as it is sharing my personal experience of anxiety, I can only hope that it has helped at least one of you reading this.
How do you cope with anxiety?
Let’s talk about it. I’d love to hear your personal experiences, just leave a comment down below or connect with me on social media – links below.