How fitting, I’m having severe anxiety over writing an anxiety blog post. You can’t make this stuff up.
Either way, I know I need to do this for myself and push myself, as in point 12. So hi, my name is Simren (it’s literally the name of my blog, original, I know) and I have a few mental health disorders, including an anxiety disorder. Warning: do not be fooled, I’m still probably one of the most flamboyant and fun people you will ever meet, holla – it’s all about learning to not allow it to consume you which I’ve made decent progress on.
*cue one of those horrendous whirling flashback graphics.*
Last week Thursday, I attended my first ever blogger event with Starbucks for their Teavana drink and forget “low key”, I was high key shitting bricks. Enough bricks to build each of the three little pigs their own individual houses after the wolf blew the first one down. High key, master key, all the keys on the bloody keyring! So there’s no surprise that I started to prep for this event two weeks in advance – two bloody weeks. Who needs a chill pill? Me.
Anyways, here’s a talk through of some of the techniques I implemented to reduce my anxiety & anxiety attacks that day:
I did this as much as possible so as to reduce additional causes for anxiety when getting ready on the day of the event. So before the actual day, I straightened my hair, made my bag (ended up taking two), sorted my outfit and so on. I even practiced how I wanted to do my makeup the following day. It’s a method that allows me to have control in a situation where I feel like I don’t have any.
2. SET MORE TIME.
I’m a very busy person and so usually, I don’t take longer than 30 minutes to get ready, including showering, hair, makeup etc. However, I set myself two hours that day.
Above anything, prioritise eating. Anxiety attacks physically take a toll on my system so it’s paramount to stay well fed and hydrated. I cannot stress this one enough.
I would consciously try to slow the speed of my breathing whilst slowly counting in Mississippis to reduce hyperventilation. Breathing in and out of my belly always helps to immediately reduce some anxiety and is a technique many professionals suggest.
So practice now. Take in some good old oxygen but instead of allowing your chest to expand outwards, try to expand your belly with the air.
Whilst on my first train, I whipped out a diary and began writing what I was feeling with all the anxiety rather than keeping it contained inside. In the diary entry, I discussed why I shouldn’t have these worries, how fantastic what I was doing was, reflecting on my overall progress so far and just overall encouraging myself. Reassuring myself that I’ve got this.
It’s good to allow yourself comforts, no one is expecting you to overcome anxiety in a day. It can often take time but try not to fall into a habit of molly-coddling yourself. For example, I prepared in advance as in point one to stay comfortable but I left my arms exposed so as not to molly-coddle myself. I have a habit of always covering my arms, with a jacket or a cardigan, or wrapping my arms around me when I’m distressed for a sense of security but I’ve realised for me personally, it’s not the healthiest method. So I consciously avoided hugging myself and wore a tank top. However, I did bring a long sleeve sports shirt with me just in case and wrapped it around my waist; like I said, no one is expecting you to overcome this in a day.
Big smiles, huge smiles. At first it always feels like I’m faking it because I am but after a while, you’ll start to feel the effects of the smile as it release endorphins & serotonin.
8. LEAVE EARLIER THAN NEED BE.
I left early enough to catch three trains before the one I needed so I could walk a longer but safer & easier route and top up my oyster to twice the amount needed for my travel that day.
Being so early meant that on the walk to the venue, I kept stopping to take pictures of the view so as to take a minute to breathe and recenter myself.
9. HEALTHY DISTRACTIONS.
I have a horrendous habit of picking and pinching my skin when I’m anxious so I bought a stress cube which I use instead. In situations where it’s too quiet to click away on the stress cube, I slowly stroke my fingers, as gently as my mum used to stroke my head out of love or how you might stroke a pet. This enable me to alleviate some anxiety through movement that is soothing.
Now be careful. Be stern with yourself so you stay in check but don’t be critical with yourself to the point where you feel horrid. I always have a couple of stern reality checks by reminding myself of what I envisage for my future and that I need to do this for myself. You know the cliche that’s about to come up – nobody can do it for you. It’s just a small anxiety blip in the bigger picture of things. Speak with yourself as you would to someone who is experiencing bereavement – incredibly sensitive, kind and loving. This may sound extreme but is a way to ensure you aren’t harsh on yourself.
11. DARK SUNGLASSES.
This is a fab way to give the appearance of a mysterious confidence when in actual fact, I’m hiding behind the shades because they’re so blacked out that nobody can see my eyes. It’s a way to allow myself some sort of a shelter when I’m out of my comfort zone (my home) and need a breather without anyone actually realising what I’m doing.
12. PUSH YOURSELF.
I FORCED myself to do stuff. When one of the Starbucks teamed asked if anyone would volunteer to be filmed for some videography they needed, I immediately agreed. I forced myself to sit in the front of the fitness class we were taking part in for the event. I forced myself to take images of my face when I didn’t feel confident doing so because I knew they were on my camera so if I didn’t like them, I could just delete them but still have had the experience! Sometimes you need to force yourself and just say yes to positive things before you’ve even had a second to think about it. In doing just that, it meant I didn’t have time to second question myself because I was already committed to something and had to follow through. I’ll tell you what though, I’m thankful to myself that I pushed myself like that though.