Firstly, I want to say that Anxiety, like any illness, mental or physical, is totally personal. It might affect me in a completely different way to the way that it affects you, your friend, someone else you read about on the internet 🙂
I’m going to share a little bit about how my anxiety feels and what I do to try to cope with it- I had such an incredible reaction to my Instagram post a few weeks ago that I wanted to share a little more with you lovely lot.
I’ve always been a nervous person, getting really worked up before tests, first days, even little things like nights out at uni. I’d be worried that something would go wrong, that I wouldn’t be wearing the right thing, that no-one would speak to me, that I’d get too drunk, that I wouldn’t have fun. Some of my fears were rational and understandable, lots of them were ridiculous. My stomach would be in turmoil, and I would do what has now been semi-affectionatly known as my ‘nervous poo’ before every single night out. At work, whenever my boss would be called in to speak to our big boss, I was convinced I was about to be fired.
My headaches are a constant source of anxiety, and the more I worry about getting a migraine on a big day, before an exam, at a wedding, on a night out, the more likely I am to get a headache. A viscous cycle.
Being a blogger and working with social media only heightens these feelings of anxiety, I’m worried about what I’m posting, fear of being judged, worried about being bitched about by other bloggers, anxious about being blacklisted by PRs and not being invited to events. When I’m not invited to an event I worry that it’s because I don’t look enough like a fitness blogger, that they don’t like me, that they think my blog is rubbish. It can be crippling.
Unfortunately this desire to be accepted, invited, liked, doesn’t go hand in hand with my brutal honesty and sometimes outspoken opinions. I often spend hours after a dinner party, event or conversation going over what I said and analysing each little part for the things that I said ‘wrong’.
I didn’t actually realise that I was suffering with anxiety until a year ago, when I started reading about other people who would endure the constant inner struggle that I deal with. Interestingly, Tom didn’t know it was a ‘thing’ either, he just thought I was tense, got stressed out easily and needed to have irrational fears calmed on a regular basis.
For me, feeling anxious manifests itself in an uneasiness throughout, I hold myself so tightly, tensing my entire body without even realising it. It can feel like butterflies in my stomach, and as previously mentioned, an unhappy digestive system.
So what helps me?
Well for me one of the best things is being stroked on the head (I understand that makes me sound like a puppy) by Tom, it’s one of the only times that I can feel my body physically relax. The act of slowing down, breathing deeply and trying to clear my mind helps too.
Turning off my phone, and stepping away from the laptop is great. Sitting on the sofa, cooking a meal or doing an activity without my phone and the constant checking Whatsapp, social media etc is good for everyone.
Exercising. This has honestly helped so much, although I feel anxious before every class I take, I always feel better after a walk, run or fitness class. Mostly it’s because I have to focus on something other than my thoughts or it gives me time and space to process them.
Getting out of the city. In October I was in NYC and I felt like it was an assault on the senses- too much, too fast, too busy, too intense. I hadn’t felt like that about London before, but I have been thinking more lately about moving somewhere slightly outside of London with a bit more green space.
Talking about it things helps. I speak to Tom and my Mum, and sometimes one of my doctor friends about how I’m feeling. Usually they can help calm me down, and work through what I can do about each of my worries, rational or irrational.
A nice cup of tea, a running joke in my family but I do love it. Preferably with a biscuit or piece of cake.
What helps me might not be what helps others, and I know that there are a number of proper treatments available, from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), magnesium supplements, prescription drugs, mindfulness and meditation. It’s worth going to speak with your doctor if you’re worried- last year I felt my anxiety had skyrocketed and was debilitating, however during my GP appointment it transpired that my migraine medication was the cause of this spike and could be fixed by switching my medication.
One of the important things to know is that if you do suffer with anxiety, or any other medical condition, you are not alone. I love that mental health is being talked about far more these days, long may it continue.