My Anxiety Strategies
A few years ago I shared my story of my childhood, teen, and young adult years filled with anxiety. As hard as it was to experience it first hand, it was just as hard sharing my story with people who didn’t have to understand or try to empathize with me. I have come a long way from those troubling and trying years but I knew it was important to share so that those who are also struggling knew that they were not alone and that it is possible to overcome your anxiety. If you want to read my original post click here and read away!
Last week I shared my memories from high school where a teacher told me I would never make it anywhere because of my anxiety. She felt it was my lack of trying and effort that I was struggling - not from something deeper going on in the situation. I was crushed to know that she was not on my side but knew I not only had something to prove to myself but to her. Today I am proud to say that my anxiety is such a minor part of who I am. I successfully completed a university degree while being on the varsity field hockey team and a captain in my last year…oh and now I am self-employed. Really headed no where! :)
After my post that night, I was thankful for the comments and likes, but I realized that so many other people also struggle and are seeking support, tips, ideas, and strategies. I am definitely no expert but I can speak from experience knowing all of the emotions that come with anxiety struggles all too well. So today, I thought I would share a few things that really helped me get to the place I am at today.
Your support system. My family has always been my number one fans. Although that one teacher was unsupportive, the rest of my high school teachers were awesome! The missing piece for me however were my friends. I didn’t connect with a lot of people at high school and because it was at the peak of my struggles, I think they had a hard time connecting to me too. In university I found my people and that made all the difference. They might not always know what to say but just being there and checking in was what I needed.
Therapy. I saw a psychologist for about a year or so to help me cope. We talked not only about school but everything! And I realized I had a lot to work on within myself. It took time for me to open up but talking to a third party was extremely beneficially for me. They don’t give you the opinion of a mom or best friend but someone who sees all sides clearly with no emotional investment.
Positive affirmations. This might be why I am obsessed with quotes today. A strategy that I used during tests and while studying was to write out affirmations to help remind me that the situation was not as bad as my brain was making it out to be. I wrote simple things like “I know the answer”, “I will figure it out”, and “I’ve studied hard and I’ve got this”. This helped me shift my perspective when I was becoming overwhelmed in a testing situation.
Breathing. My anxiety really shone through during test situations. Before the start of any examination I would take about 3 breaths to focus my energy and get rid of any nerves. Now any time I am feeling overwhelmed or about to become anxious I do this. It could be before I go to sleep, right before a class - really any time I need it.
Let go of being perfect. Like many others I have perfectionistic tendencies. I think I have to get 100% and be perfect with everything. However, one day it dawned on me that no one is actually perfect (shocking, I know) and that I needed to set realistic expectations and standards for myself. Instead of striving for perfect I focus on doing my best, which usually results in an outcome I like because I prepare.
Natural Remedies. Some people don’t believe in this stuff but I am a firm believer in it. A brand I have used in the past is called “Rescue Remedy” and whether you think it is a placebo or not, it works. I used it in all testing situations and sometimes in presentations if I was beginning to feel anxious beforehand.
Confidence. I lacked confidence during my hardest times, not because I didn’t believe in myself at all times, but because I felt that others were judging me based on my reactions and emotions. However, upon arriving at university and even now in the working world, having confidence in your abilities makes all the difference. When you know you are knowledgeable, educated, prepared, and have worked hard for the task or obstacle ahead, it can sometimes put you at a bit more ease to tackle it head on.
Like I said before, I am no expert but I do know what has worked for me. If anyone has other suggestions or strategies that they use, feel free to share! Here’s to anxious-free days ahead and empathy for those who need it. Happy Sunday!
Yours in self-discovery,