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Dealing with anxiety

Anxiety is a horrible thing to have to live with, and unfortunately I've suffered with it for quite a while. However, a comforting thing to remember is that (as cliché as it is) you are not alone if you're feeling anxious about anything. Pretty much everyone suffers with anxiety sometimes, and a whole lot of people (including myself) have a big portion of their lives ruled by their anxious and worrisome habits.

Before we go on, I just want to say that these are the ways I deal with my own personal anxieties - I'm not claiming to cure anything and I'm certainly not saying these are conventional ways of treating anxious thoughts. I've accepted my anxiety as part of myself and I do things to try and make life less worrisome. If you don't like these points then that's okay!

Daily life

For me, one of my biggest triggers is talking on the phone. Texting is fine - I have thumbs that move at extraordinary speeds. I can reply before you've even sent me a text! (Well, almost.) But pressing the 'call' button on my phone sends shivers down my entire body and I feel sick to my core. I get asked a LOT by people who don't really understand: what's so scary about it? Surely if you were so anxious, then talking in person would terrify you more? And I suppose I do see those points... But still, that changes nothing. I can't really explain why I am so fearful of making or taking phone calls, but I know that unfortunately, a lot of the time it is a task that I can't completely avoid. Here's how I can calm myself down before picking up the phone:

--> Plan what to say before I call. I know this is what a normal functioning human would do, but I mean literally plan it. I'll write a script if I have to. I think one of the things that terrifies me about a phone call is being asked something and not having an answer prepared. I seem to be able to wing things a lot easier when I'm in person; but on the phone, my brain just vaporises. What I like to do prior to making a call, especially an important one, is write down all the information I could possibly need to deal with the call. This includes basic stuff like my name and date of birth! I know this sounds like a bit of a palaver, but for me it'll go one of two ways: either I take 10 minutes beforehand to write this stuff down, or I won't make the call and hope the issue will go away on its own. From my own experience, I know that 9/10 times the issue DOES NOT GO AWAY ON ITS OWN. God damn adult life.

My job also requires me to be speaking in front of fairly large groups of people sometimes, giving them instructions and a bit of storytelling before their game. I am not a very confident public speaker, mainly in front of strangers. Instead, I have a few coping methods to help me along:

--> Making it an act. I know this seems strange, like you're pretending you can do something rather than taking steps to actually change it, but I find it helps me a lot. What I tend to do when faced with public speaking is just pretend that I am a different person. It becomes a bit like acting in a film or something, where I talk with an enthusiasm and energy that I am most definitely not feeling inside. It's not that I'm not enjoying what I'm doing, but the fact I am speaking to groups of 6 or more people in a confined space is daunting and sometimes I do feel myself short of breath. I just have to take a few breaths and engage in "Other Alice" mode. Kind of like a cool alter-ego.

--> Desensitising myself. It's all well and good putting on an act, but truly the best thing to do to help this is just to force yourself to do it. Speak to bigger groups of people whenever you can and just train your brain to realise that it's not as daunting as you think. People aren't (for the most part) standing there and criticising everything about you, even though your brain is telling you they are. The more you interact with people, the more you'll realise that actually, they're probably just interested in what you've got to say.


Another thing that really sets me off is using public transport at peak times. Usually, I'm pretty fine hopping on the bus or train when I know the area and it's relatively quiet. However, as soon as those carriages fill up I feel my palms start sweating and... Well, you probably know the rest. Things that help me in this situation are:

--> Knowing my exits. One of my biggest fears in this situation is missing my stop and ending up in the middle of nowhere. Even if I know the area fairly well and know that actually it wouldn't be the end of the world if I missed my stop; I'd still know where I was. Regardless, one thing that calms me a lot is scoping out where the nearest door is (if it's a train - I am aware there is usually just one door on a bus lol.) If possible, I will seat myself as close to the door as possible so it's easier for me to get off if it gets busy. If I really have to, I will just stand right by the door for the entire journey.

--> Tracking my route. When I'm on the train, I like to keep looking at the Trainline app on my phone which tells me all the stops on my journey. I take particular notice of when I leave a station and then count how many stops are left. I do this every journey, even for journeys I make regularly. It just keeps me calm and in control.

Helping others

Perhaps you don't struggle with anxiety yourself, or maybe you're just concerned for someone who does. I wouldn't devote all your time to worrying about them, but rather just take some steps to make them feel comfortable with who they are.

--> Sensitivity is key! We're not saying you have to go and learn the NHS page on anxiety, just asking that you show some sensitivity, especially if anxiety isn't something you really suffer with or perhaps don't understand. The worst thing to say to someone that's feeling anxious is "calm down" - instead, see what you can do to help them worry less.

--> Be a friend! A strong support network is absolutely essential when dealing with any mental health issue. If you can just be a supportive individual in an anxious person's life, then you are making a world of difference, trust me.

So none of these are meditating or deep breathing as often
doctors and counsellors suggest; perhaps these aren't even anywhere
near conventional! But these are my everyday coping methods
for my anxiety, which is something that I feel needs discussing more openly.
I hope this helps at least one person!

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1 comment

  1. These are very helpful! I know there's a lot of people suffering and are not so open about it, so good for you! Keep posting about everyday things that you deal with and someone out there dealing with the same thing will stumble upon your blog and be inspired.


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