Anxiety is part of the human experience. I believe it’s there for a reason. Like our emotions, anxiety is part of our built-in guidance system that’s primary purpose is to keep us safe.
But with all the pressures of modern life, we are experiencing anxiety way more frequently than previous generations. Social media has us connected to, and comparing ourselves to literally thousands of people.The expectations we place on ourselves are tremendous, and often unrealistic.
Especially as women, we are cramming more into the same 24 hours than ever before. It’s no wonder we are feeling anxious!
Have you ever gone to a party, looked around the room and thought that everyone else looked confident and comfortable? Did you feel like the only one who was panicking on the inside?
I know what that feels like, trust me I do! And I promise you that you are far from alone in feeling this way.
It’s surprising, and important to note, it’s often the most confident, outgoing and high achieving women that are suffering silently!
Anxiety doesn’t discriminate, and for so many people the frustrating thing is that they can’t pinpoint its root cause.
I am very open about my anxiety and because of this, it’s incredible how many people open up to me, and say that they too are struggling. Not only that, they often say that they had no idea that I have anxiety. Which to me seems bonkers! How could they not tell?!
I feel like I have a flashing neon sign on my head that says socially awkward & anxious!
By sharing what anxiety is like for me I hope to start conversations so that we can all feel a little less alone. If my words help just one person, then I’ll be happy.
So here it is: What anxiety feels like to me.
Sometimes in social situations I feel so disconnected from everyone. Even in a room full of people I know and love. I don’t even know why I feel anxious. RELAX, I think. I feel frustrated as hell that I’m not naturally outgoing and bubbly. Being in a room full of people can make me feel as if there is too much going on. As though my mind simply can’t process it. Imagine having 10 people talking at you all at once – it’s something like that. Only no one is talking to me. Sensory overload I believe it’s called.
Anxiety hits! My head feels like it’s full of fluff. As if I literally have nothing to say. I know I am being quiet, and that quietness is interpreted as being snobby or rude, so I replay things to say in my head. They always come out so awkward. Thus, compounding the awkward factor times one hundred.
Often a well-meaning person will come up to me and say something along the lines of ‘You look uncomfortable.’ Why on earth do they do this? I know how I look. This is the worst thing they could say. It makes me feel upset and inadequate.
Knowing that I am likely to feel this way can make me dread social situations I should be looking forward to.
This is making me sound decidedly messed up (sorry Mum). I’m sharing this because from conversations with my girlfriends I know that I am by no means alone. It saddens me that so many of us are having these experiences daily, and beating ourselves up over it.
So what can we do about it?
On the bright side there is hope for a happier and less anxious life. Over the years through trial and error I’ve found ways of keeping my mind calm and maintaining a positive outlook.
Below are some self-care practices you can use to help keep anxiety at bay. Start by picking just one or two that resonate with you.
To Increase Productivity, Motivation and Creativity
- Start your day with a morning routine. My morning routine is super simple but effective and helps shift my energy if I’ve woken up in a mood: I get dressed, record my days gratitude as a voice message, say my affirmations and have a hot cacao. If working from home, get up and get dressed as if you are going out. Nothing fancy, just presentable so you feel good. I find my day goes 100% better and I’m more productive when I do this.
- Spend time alone. This is a big one for me and even trickier now I have two kids. But it’s an absolute non-negotiable for my sanity and the greater good.
- Be selective and intentional about the company you choose to keep. Say no to people and situations that drain you.
- Spend time outdoors. If it’s warm, try going barefoot to ground yourself. I go bonkers if I’m cooped up too long. Sometimes all it takes to shift our mood is a change of scenery.
For Physical well-being, increased energy and a feeling of balance
- Get enough sleep. Everyone is different but for me if I am asleep before midnight, I wake up feeling refreshed, even if I must be up early.
- Quit or minimize caffeine. Not only does cutting out coffee reduce my anxiety, I sleep better and have more energy (after the initial week of withdrawals that is).
- Eat lots of fruit, veges and whole foods. Steer clear of processed foods as much as possible.
- Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. If you don’t like the taste of water, try adding berries or a slice of lemon to flavor it.
- Move your body! Find a way to incorporate exercise into your day.
- Diffuse or apply essential oils. I use essential oils daily to keep me calm and grounded but also focused and motivated.
To calm your mind and increase your confidence
- Write things down to free up your mental space! Get everything out of your head and onto paper (or an app like OneNote or Evernote) and schedule all your to do’s in your calendar.
- Learn to mediate. Even 5 minutes a day can make a big difference in how you feel. There are plenty of guided meditations on YouTube to get you started.
- Minimize time spent on social media and try not to watch the news as it’s mostly negative.
- Automate your finances so that you don’t have to think about it.
- Declutter your home, office and car. For more on decluttering check out my post Change Your Space: Change Your Life.
Practice doing things outside your comfort zone. Start small and gradually build your confidence.
- Have that conversation that you’ve been putting off having. You’ll feel so much lighter once it’s no longer rolling around your head.
Have a play around to see which of the above practices work best for you. Just one or two small changes can go a long way towards minimizing the anxiety you experience.
What does anxiety feel like to you? Is there a self-care practice that you’ve found really helps? I’d love to hear from you.