It’s easy to slip into a comfort zone. A routine where you feel safe and comfortable, no surprises, and you don’t think anything of it. It’s not until someone suggests something, maybe a night out somewhere new or an event with some people you don’t know all that well, and that’s when it hits. The feeling of your heart, that has suddenly started racing, sinking all the way down to your toes. The feeling of complete dread in the days, hours, minutes leading up to it. It hasn’t always been like this, but it wasn’t something that happened overnight either. I think it has always been there, but under the surface, because until recently I was able to make excuses – “I can’t come out, I have to work tomorrow” or “I don’t have enough money.“ It wasn’t until it started to be questioned, why I don’t go out too much or why I always leave early that I started to feel like there was a problem.
I didn’t like this feeling. I got defensive, I argued it – I don’t have a problem, I’m fine, so what if I don’t want to go out as much as you? It wasn’t until I realised it was affecting my relationships that I decided that maybe it was something I had to address.
The way I see it, anxiety is like a circle of fear, and more often than not it is the fear of doing something that is a million times worse than the thing itself. But the more I sit and over think and worry about something, the worse it becomes, and I’m sure this is something everyone can relate to. When it builds up in my mind, I find it hard to see the positives in a situation.
Here are some of the ways I try to make things seem less scary. Whether by breaking them down into smaller events or turning them around so I see the positives rather than the negatives, my anxiety is starting to become more manageable.
- I’m good one-to-one, I can sit down and chat quite happily if there is just one other person. Add more people into the equation and I struggle. I feel like I have nothing to contribute, I worry that I’m boring, that people won’t like me, and the more I worry, the less I talk. It’s not a fun circle. So I made a plan to get to know one person better. Now, if there’s an occasion where I have to be out with a big group, I can go and talk to that person and know that I have a sort of safety blanket, that there is at least one person there I know I can hold a conversation with.
- Set a timeframe. I mention that I’m going to get the last tube home, or that I have to leave by a certain point. Luckily I’ve always been a bit old before my time and most people understand if I say this and don’t push me to stay longer This isn’t to say I will always leave then, if I am enjoying myself then of course I’ll stay. But if there is a time frame then I find it easier to relax.
- It’s cliché but often talking is easiest. Believe me, it’s become much easier to deal with since I’ve opened up more about it, people do understand and most people will have experienced anxiety about something at some point.
- Take some time out. It’s okay to have a little cry if you need to. I find that for me, writing, colouring or reading are great, and I love going for a long run or to the gym.
- Make a plan for something for yourself. It can be something little, like treating yourself to that top you’ve wanted for ages, or something bigger – I do love a bit of holiday planning, or looking for weekend breaks 🙂
If any of you have any suggestions, anything that helps you then I’d love to hear them 🙂
There will be good days and bad days, but I want to write things out and document them so I can see the good in them, with the hope that working through the anxiety and the reasons behind it rather than just ignoring it and burying my head in the sand will mean the good days far outweigh the bad.
Writing this now, it seems so easy and straightforward, and I’m sat here thinking “What’s the problem? It’s not that bad.” I’m writing this sat on my sofa with my dog and my family wandering around the house and it’s safe and calm and I don’t have an event coming up filling me with dread. If I can hold onto this feeling, then I can just take baby steps, a day at a time.