I make no secret of the fact that I suffered with anxiety.
In fact suffered is probably an understatement… at some points my mind was so gripped by the fear of what if it all goes wrong I couldn’t breathe. I catastrophised myself into the worse possible situation for any scenario and forgot how to live.
Since then, and since seeking medical support I have indulged anxiety to a degree where I have routines to help combat it, systems in place to fight it and support functions all around me.
Medication for me, was always a short term option, it clouds my brain and dulls my emotions. Although, at the time, got me back to a place of balance which I needed.
Do I still get anxiety?
Yes – but I work extremely hard to make it go away as fast as it comes. My vision in life, is to help other women like me, who have gone from a busy professional live, with kids and suddenly found themselves in a place where they feel not worthy, no good and unskilled.
What follows is a Yorkshire lasses, straight talking route of battling the “anx”….
1. First up – your language, I used to call the “anx” – my anxiety. Like it was an intrinsic part of me, linked to my DNA, linked to my personality.
Excuse my French, but fuck that shit.
Excusing my irrationality or tears or fears because “my anxiety” is playing up, is giving your brain permission to freak out.
Don’t own the anx, accept it may be something that comes and goes in your life, like diarrhoea after a curry but don’t call it yours.
(On that point, could you imagine after a spicy vindaloo walking around with your stomach in bits saying, my diarrhoea is playing up, excuse me whilst I try not to poop myself.)
I mean you wouldn’t, would you?
Likewise, don’t indulge a bad day by saying “my anxiety” is up. Instead reformat, and address it. Today I have anxiety so I am going to focus on removing it so I can carry on and have a happy, successful day.
Finally on language; listen to yourself. I said to a friend recently, “I get terrible anxiety when I drink, I hate it.”
Mind blown! When invite in the devil when you can stop him ever entering your soul.
2. Focus on what you can control, ground yourself. This is one of my favourites, as it works every single time.
When the anx comes bowling in from nowhere, I have an instant go to.
I grab something in my hands and plant my feet firmly on the floor.
I force myself in the now (kids think I am barmy by the way.)
I repeat until I feel more level – “I am stood on the carpet, in the lounge, I have a book in my hand, I am safe, I am in control. I can see the dog on the chair, she isn’t allowed on the bloody chair, I can see the sun through the window, I can hear birds, I can hear the kids merrily arguing upstairs, I am safe.
This continues until I have caught my breath and can focus on the now once more.
3. I warn you, this one is scary. The anx that hits me is often correlated to future fears about my life and where I will end up. Left alone, the anx will burrow into my brain and take me to a box, underneath Kings Cross train station, the box will be my home as everything went wrong in my life.
So, when anx hits, on occasion I allow myself to follow its path and answer the questions of “what will happen if”, I continue to answer all my darkest fears until eventually I hit a point where they have all been covered. Not once does this story end with my in a box. There are always options and by probing my fears I can see what they are and how I will react.
Then to push positivism into the story, I remind myself of all I do well, and why I am successful at what I choose to do in life. I look to the past for proof that the future is mine to own.
Then I move on.
4. This one is not mine, It is taken from a book called, Playing Big, by Tara Mohr. I highly recommend it (and thank my friend Katie for putting it in my life).
The voice of our inner critic is loud, and often the cause of anxiety. My inner critic frequently tells me I am not good enough, that I shouldn’t take a risk, that I will fail. She has already starting picking out furnishings for my box underneath the train station. In a way, she is trying to protect me, to keep me doing the same thing, day in and day out. To play it safe, to be cautious and tread gently. Left to my inner critic, I would never grow, not do things that scare me and probably stay home, cushioned in a blanket – fearing all the fantastic things in life that await me.
My inner critic tells me I am too fat to date, too unfit to work out, too old to grow in my career.
Tara Mohr, recommends that whilst we all have a loud, protective inner critic, we also have an inner mentor as well – and she needs seeking out.
Trust me, despite what your thoughts are on meditation, take 5 minutes and sit quietly, calmly and go find the person inside you who has your back, who knows your true self, who knows what you are capable of and how successful you can truly become.
At the age of 43, and being born and bred in South Yorkshire with a scathing northern sense of humour, I am often found, sitting on my bed, eyes closed, in deep mental conversation with my inner mentor who issues quiet but solid advice, reassures me that I am good enough for all I seek, and holds my hand when I take risks or push myself out of my comfort zone.
Go find her, she will help.
5. And finally, number five.
Get outside, get to a gym, go for a walk or a run. Give yourself permission to feel happy and fill up your body with happy endorphins that come from exercise. Another way you can improve your mental health is through therapies and treatments, don’t hesitate to pamper yourself with natural cosmetics or hair transplant surgery: sometimes you’ve got to make yourself number one.
On days when I know the anx is crouching behind the sofa waiting for me to let down my guard, I shift my ass into gear. I do something physical, and then bathe in the glow of post exercise that always follows.
It truly is the best medicine.
Final words, I heard this recently on a podcast and I mutter it every day….
Act as if the world is conspiring to make you happy..
Advice to live by.
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