Anxiety is a fickle little sucker. I know this because I’ve been planning a wedding during the car crash that is 2020 and I’ve been waiting for the Killer of Happiness to surface. But it’s being shy. That’s the good ole joker Anxiety for you. What a hoot! Dealing with anxiety takes an arsenal of mind and body strategies.
While I was slicing my guest numbers from 140 down to 20 I felt sure I’d get tight pangs in my chest. But, nada. And then I got told I’d need to wear a mask walking down the aisle [Prod, prod. You coming to the party now, Anxiety?]. Nope, not a sign of the unpredictable chap.
C’mon! Surely, you’ll come out to play once you hear that the celebrations need to end at 10pm and the guests aren’t allowed a buffet? Radio silence. Hold up – maybe my anxiety has been cured…
But, wait a minute…did that person just skip me in the supermarket queue? They’ve definitely jumped the line. Should I say something? I should call them out. But what if I look unhinged? It isn’t fair if they don’t wait 30 minutes like I had to. I’m going to say something. Or would that be out of order? [Chest gets tight, tongue goes dry, hands tremble, beads of sweat form.]
And that is the ugliness of anxiety. It doesn’t need to have something big to trigger it. In fact, I’ve handled crises like nursing my dad through a terminal illness more calmly than I did standing up at a networking event to only say my name. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to when its debilitating effects will surface.
The trick (if you can call it that) is to call its bluff and work with it.
For example, I find that my anxiety pops up when I’m in the spotlight. But I know this and I prepare for it. I’ve done plenty of public speaking throughout my career in Corporate Communications. To keep my anxiety at bay, beforehand, I visualise giving the presentation as much as possible. I practise the content over and over and I concentrate on my breathing during the main event. For me, it’s about getting familiar with what sets me off and then looking for ways to counteract it.
Ultimately, I’m a sociable, ambitious person so there is no way I want to hide away in a hole forever (well maybe not all the time. I’m an introvert, so a solitary hole is nice sometimes). I’m past the point of giving anxiety permission to make me stay small.
With regards to my wedding in November 2020, I guess the reason I’m chilled about it is that I have learnt not to worry about things I don’t have control over. Anxiety likes to inject every worst-case scenario into your mind. Most of them will never happen. Sometimes you need to ride the wave of life, and often the outcome isn’t anywhere near as scary as you imagined it would be.
3 sites that are packed with advice on anxiety
If you suffer from anxiety, then these sites may be of help:
Anxiety UK – a non-profit organisation that offers lots of free advice and guides.
Calmer You – author of The Anxiety Solution and The Calmer You podcast, Chloe shares lots of great insights.
The Anxiety Guy – I love his podcasts. They’re short, snappy and I always come away feeling better or having learned something valuable about myself.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share on how you deal with anxiety? Why not help someone else today?
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