Dealing With Anxiety

Monday 27 February

Anxiety is something that a lot of us deal with. Let me tell you, it’s not a fun thing. Like a shadow, it creeps up on us when we least want it. It prevents us from doing so many things, even simple things like leaving the house just to go to the shops. I’m not talking about the ‘anxiety disorder’, which an increasing amount of young people are being diagnosed with in these times. Rather, I’m addressing the feeling of being anxious, which is different.

My experience with anxiety is like any other. Social anxiety is something that I used to struggle with tremendously, however over the last six months I have grown in so many ways that this doesn’t affect me as much anymore. In fact, I’ve turned into such a social being recently and I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, I have struggled with this and there are still days where I’m not myself.

The feelings of anxiety I deal with now usually stem from nothing, or so I think. Episodes or panic attacks usually sprout on me when I least expect them, like when I’ve been having such a good day, and then BAM, a terrifying wave of anxiety engulfs me. It’s not pretty – I cry, and cry even more as I feel frustrated at myself for feeling this way without an obvious reason.

Take today, for example. I’ve had a great Monday so far until about twenty minutes ago. Honestly, I felt the threat of this feeling since midday, expecting an episode to come over me. The mere fact that I felt this readied me for it. Why am I anxious? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure, but it has something to do with going into university for my seminars. Mondays are hard for me because my classes run from 5-7pm, so I end up waiting around all day for them, and when the time comes, I feel anxious about heading onto campus.

How do I deal with this?

The first thing to remember is that we all suffer from levels of anxiety (in whatever form, be that social anxiety or something else) from time to time. It’s ok to feel this way, and know that you’re not alone.

The second thing is that you have to be kind to yourself. I’m being hypocritical here when I say this, but try not to get frustrated with yourself. Anxiety, to an extent, is something that immobilises you and at times it feels hopeless. It’s a horrible feeling, but you have to, more than anything, give yourself love and patience. You won’t help yourself if you just get annoyed at yourself for having “another one of those days”. Working on dealing with anxiety, like anything else I talk about here on my blog, comes from within and learning to love yourself and have an abundance of kindness and grace for yourself.

It’s like that metaphor (is it a metaphor?) of talking to plants. According to some scientists, if you talk negatively to one plant and spread positivity and kind affirmations to another, the one you speak negatively to will have stunted growth and the other will be considerably more nourished.

Truth or not, this is what I am referring to – be kind to yourself and you will have the chance to flourish (though I know perhaps it’s not as simple as that simplified explanation).

The next thing to keep in mind is that this feeling is temporary and you will get through it. Think about the last time you were feeling this type of way. You got through it, didn’t you? You survived it. Even though in the moment, it feels like the walls are closing in on you, you will make it out of that dark spot. It might take longer some times than others, but it doesn’t matter, because we learn and grow from these episodes and feelings. Everything (even the good parts of life) are temporary. It’s how we deal with these negative times that teaches us the most valuable lessons.

What to do in the moment:

  • Find a quiet space to exist in for the moment. No matter where you are, there’ll be somewhere to go: a bench in the park, a private room on campus, even a toilet cubicle (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the verge of a breakdown in the university loos!).
  • Tell someone. Although this can be hard to do, having someone there with you when you’re going through this can be really helpful. Even if they say nothing and they’re just there sitting next to you, it helps calm you down. Usually, I text my mum, sister or boyfriend when this is happening, or if I’m at home in my flat, I grab a friend. I don’t always explain what’s happening, just that maybe I need a cup of tea or a hug. This is always reassuring for me.
  • Take a short walk, or detach yourself from your situation. This can be hard if you’re in the middle of class or a meeting. If possible, physically move away from wherever you are – a change of scenery. For me, this may mean getting some fresh air outside, moving from my room at home to the lounge, going to a friend’s house, or going for a coffee. The moment I sense anxiety, I do the best I can to remove myself from that situation from where the anxiety spiked. Sometimes this may just be move from my desk (where perhaps I have gotten all worked up about my current workload) to my bed (where it’s comforting and warm).
  • Put on your favourite music to calm you down, and have a cup of tea. There are little things a good old cuppa, or coffee if you’re like me, can’t solve. It may sound stupid, but it works – try it!
  • Try to figure out why you’re feeling this way. In the moment, it’s hard to calm yourself down and get away from the spiralling negativity in your mind, but it’s essential that you at least try. Since starting my healing journey, asking myself questions like “why am I feeling this way?” aren’t as hard as they used to be, as long as I am honest with myself. That’s essential, too. If you have an idea of why you’re feeling upset and anxious but don’t want to admit it, there’s even more reason to do so. Write it down, say it aloud. It helps to voice why these emotions have come up, and this goes for any feeling that you may feel.

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