A+ for anxiety
This article is for all the girls out there who have that friend they don't want to catch up for coffee with... called anxiety. You are not alone but we do understand that it is worse for some of you.. hope this helps beauties.
My name is Holly and I’m 21 years old. I’m 3 years deep in a psychology
degree and volunteer with youth mentoring on the side. Here I will share
with you some personal experiences as well as learned knowledge that
have helped me, and can hopefully help you too, if anxiety is something
that you struggle with.
Think back to a time you have felt anxious. Did you have to go
somewhere? See someone? Do something? For me, a lot of my anxiety
stems from having to go out into a social setting, particularly an
unfamiliar one. This is the same for a lot of people i meet through my work and studies. For some, even the thought of leaving the house is too much and anxiety takes over. A prime example of when it just gets too much is when I start a new job. When I started my current job as a waitress a couple of years back, i was absolutely riddled with anxiety... not just in the hours leading up to a
shift, but in the days leading up to them. Which basically meant I was
anxious all the time. It completely consumed me and it was terrifying.
If you’re someone who is prone to anxiety, then you’ve probably noticed
that when you feel anxious for an extended period of time, you can start
to feel not only emotionally, but also physically unwell. Your tummy is
always tense, you may lose your appetite or you may eat too much.
You may feel pangs of nausea, dizziness, light-headedness, racing
thoughts, shaking hands, shortness of breath. You may find yourself
becoming super irritable over little things that normally don’t bother you.
Your body is constantly in a state of bracing itself. But for what? Carrying
a few coffees to table 25? Refilling the water on table 7? Answering the
phone to take a reservation? Well, to be honest, yes, yes and fuck yes
(answering the phone is scary as shit).
Bottom line is this - we don’t get to pick and choose what gives us
anxiety and what we are comfortable with. Fact is, we are all going to
feel anxious at times. For me it’s social settings that trigger it, for some
people it might be school, work, financial stress, relationships, confrontation, anything.
Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of it at all (and that’s
ok!). Mostly though, it’s situations that feel out of our control. And that’s
why they can be scary!
So now we’ve touched on the physical and the psychological symptoms
of anxiety. And it’s true, these are often very much out of our control.
Let’s accept that. But here’s the good news! What we do get some
control over is how we choose to deal with our anxieties (forgive me for
the cliché). So, think back now to that situation of yours that gives you
anxiety. What’s your instinct? For me, it’s to call in sick to work, hell,
maybe even quit. Next, I’ll throw on a hoodie and hit play on a movie I’ve seen a million times - one where the characters are talking animals made out of plasticine...
Now, here’s why I don’t do that every time I hear that voice inside my
head telling me that the world is going to end. I have to do the things that I
don’t want to do to prove that voice wrong. And I have to prove it wrong
over and over again. And who knows, maybe one day it’ll shut the hell
up for good (still waiting for that day but it will come). The point is not to avoid the things that make you feel paralysed. If you do, sure you’ll feel better for a little while. But
ultimately, avoiding behaviours will only reconfirm the things that little
voice is telling you. Because who’s to say otherwise? Not only that, but if
left unmanaged, anxiety can lead to other serious illnesses such as
depression and eating disorders, as well as things like self-esteem and
relationship issues.. and let me tell you girls, if anxiety is already taking over you do not want to add these into the mix because it'll end being a concoction of yuck.
At the end of the day think of the worst case scenario (a rational one).
For me? Ok I might spill a coffee, or maybe even double book a table on
our busiest night. A customer might chuck a sook. My boss might be
pissed. But you know what? By tomorrow no one’s going to give a shit.
Isn’t that a beautiful thought? And you know what else? When you do
make a mistake (and everyone does, even your boss and even that pain
in the ass customer who needs to get off their mf high horse) it doesn’t
make you the worst person in the world. It doesn’t make you a failure or
a lost cause. It makes you fucking human! It makes you real and
relatable and human. #bereal
If you’re someone who struggles with anxiety, let me introduce you to
self reflection - it's going to be your new best friend. Get yourself a
journal and start by writing down some little tactics that you can use
when you are feeling anxious. Here is my list to give you some ideas:
- Get out in nature!!!! or walk the dog.. whatever just get some fresh air
- See a close friend or family member (someone who is a good
listener and who can make me laugh)
- Clean! (your hair, your room, the house.. anything)
- Do a load of washing
- Watch your fav Youtuber’s latest upload (if you're into that)
- Do something you have been avoiding (however small) e.g. go to the
bank, do grocery shopping, pay bill, watch a uni lecture, do a bit of
an assignment) to feel that sweet sweet sense of productivity
- Bake something (there is nothing better then the smell of fresh cookies or brownie mix.. yum)
- Buy a new book
- Listen to some J. Cole/ Frank Ocean/ K.L... get those gangsta vibes (works like a charm)
- Self talk (pretend Beyoncé is inside your head)
- Meditation (look at YouTube vids for some guidance if needed or take a class)
- Do some breathing exercises (alternate nostril breathing is really good for your brain functionality)
- Write lists!! Get everything on paper and out of your head.
Find the things that work for you and keep doing them! Don’t let anxiety
rule you. You are in charge. You got this girl!!!