The A Word...On coping with anxiety
Written by Allie Hincks.
Article written by Allie Hincks.
*I'm not an expert, or a doctor – so please don't take my experiences as clinical advice. These are just my general musings about something I've dealt with for the majority of my life (distilled through years of work with a therapist).*
Anxiety. It's not such a bad word anymore because I think everyone has a relationship with it. It's a sliding scale, but one way or another it's relatively universal. The more we talk about it, the more normal it becomes. Because it is normal.
One of the best things I've ever read is that "you are not your bad days". You're allowed to have a bad day and that one day does not define you. Something to keep in mind is that your anxiety will fluctuate, and that's okay. The most important thing to me has been learning how to deal with those bad days. Some of it is preventative and some of it is acceptance.
These are a few of my gleanings.
Anxiety has a funny way of making you believe that you're involved in everything, that if something went wrong it's your fault. If something needs to be fixed, you're the one responsible for fixing it. One of the best things I can tell you is "know what is not your problem" and let yourself of the hook.
Anxiety also has a way of getting in and sticking to you when your guards down. For me, it's when I'm not mentally stimulated. When I'm not my brain wanders around and let's anxiety right in. Over the years I've learnt this about myself and consequently I work really hard to maintain a certain level of mental "busyness". For some people it's when they don't get enough exercise, so for me this is a form of working out in a sense. Know this about yourself and put the work in to keep it at bay.
A big part of my anxiety is trying to deal with situations that haven't happened yet. I expect the worst possible outcome and re-arrange my stress levels around that fictional let down. I actively try deal with the here, deal with the now and deal with the reality. That's all you can do.
Knowing your triggers is really important but I think knowing your limits should also be a major priority. I'm constantly checking in with my mental and emotional state. The majority of my time is spent with people. I'm in a client facing workspace and I have an active social life, so I can easily get pretty emotionally worn down from this. For me, knowing when I need to re-set and retreat is the most important thing I can do for myself. Again, it's my mental and emotional homework.
I try to stick to a nighttime routine of winding down and taking some quiet time. Some weeks I get to do this four nights a week and some weeks I only get to do it once. I make the effort to get back this 'base' as much as I can.
When I do have those bad days I try to face them with as much strength as I can. I take the risk of facing the day and try to remind myself that I'm better than it and that it's not bigger than me.