My experience with anxiety
For me, my anxiety was around needles (completely crazy I know). The thought of having a safety pin near me made me feel physically sick let alone having an injection. About two years ago I had a letter through the door saying I was due my tetanus jab (cue nervous break down) and after that my phobia grew bigger and bigger to the point that I couldn’t go half an hour through my day without the thought coming into my head. I would lay in bed at night and think up all these scenarios where I would be forced to have a needle and would have the most horrendous panic attacks. It got to the point where I would stop myself from doing certain activities for fear I would end up in a situation where I would need an injection. This is when I finally gave in and went to the doctors for help where I was put through for counselling.
About three months ago, I was forced to have my tetanus jab after being bitten by a bug quite badly. Armed with the advice I was given through counselling and determination to finally face my fears, I went and had it done and I am still here to tell the story (despite what my anxiety thought). So here is how I plucked up the courage to face my fear and kick anxieties butt!
Control your breathing
Learning to control my breathing has helped me massively when I begin to feel anxious. For me, when I start to panic my breathing becomes really rapid and I take shallow breaths. As soon as I recognise this, I take long, deep breaths through my nose and breathe out of my mouth. This really helps calm you down and makes you feel more grounded again (and stops anxiety in it’s tracks!). I know you will have heard it before and probably sick of hearing it but meditation is key to controlling your breathing and therefore your anxiety. If I am feeling anxious about something, I like to meditate beforehand. For example, I meditated before my driving test and before going for a filling at the dentist (something I was very nervous about). You can find lots of apps on the app store that help you meditate if you’re a complete newbie like me.
Mindfulness is something I’d heard of before but didn’t know much about before I began my counselling. It basically is when you focus your awareness on the things you are surrounded by and the things you’re feeling at that moment in time. When you begin to feel anxious, if you consciously begin to pay attention to your surroundings, for example, the sounds you can hear around you; the taste in your mouth; the different textures of your clothing, your attention is directed away from the feelings of anxiousness. When I begin to feel anxious, I like to chew some gum or have a sweet and I really focus my attention on the taste of it.
Face your fears one step at a time
As scary as it might be, exposing yourself slowly to the things that make you feel anxious helps you to fight your fears. In the first stage of my counselling I had to watch a video of someone having an injection and I kid you not I burst into tears and went into full blown panic mode. However, after watching it again a few more times I felt a lot calmer and was less anxious than the first time I watched the video. This paired with controlled breathing and mindfulness makes you feel a lot less anxious and makes you realise that it’s perhaps not so bad after all. Not only that, if you sit down and write a list of the steps you are going to take to slowly face your fears, ticking them off one by one is so rewarding and makes you feel totally badass, like you can face anything.
Reward yourself with that top you’ve been eyeing up for so long, a cheeky glass of wine with a friend or treating yourself to a nice hot bubble bath, rewarding yourself when you’ve conquered your anxiety is really important.When you are facing your fears or when you’re caught up in feelings of anxiousness it is very easy to forget that life still goes on afterwards, so knowing you’re going out for a nice meal or treating yourself to a pamper night helps you to look forward and gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Try to keep perspective
It is really important to try and keep some perspective when it comes to anxiety. When you’re feeling anxious, try and ask yourself ‘what is the worst that can happen?’ and nine out of ten times it really isn’t that bad. Or ask yourself ‘what is the likeliness of this actually happening?’. Asking yourself these types of questions helps to challenge your feelings of anxiousness and also helps to reassure you.
Talk to someone
Whether it be a parent, sibling, friend, teacher, partner or doctor, it is so important to talk to someone so you’re not facing it alone. You should never feel ashamed of sharing how you feel no matter how silly you think it is. Having someone there to give advice or to hold your hand through it all makes it a lot less scary then doing it alone. The day I went for my tetanus jab, my Dad came with me and held my hand as I was having it done because he knew how terrified I was, and I don’t think I could’ve done it without him. It really doesn’t matter who you reach out to, as long as you tell someone.
If you have any questions at all to ask me or you simply need someone to talk to, feel free to reach out to me. You can find me on twitter @bethmeganh_ or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With Love, Beth x