How To Cope With Anxiety At WorkJanuary 9, 2019
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How would you describe your struggle with anxiety?
My struggle with anxiety was a long slow one, triggered by a sudden and serious breakup which lead to depression and anxiety, and then years later anxiety around dating and how I dealt with others in social situations. Fear of rejection and the unknown was my worst enemy.
It took me a while to identify that what I was feeling was anxiety and at first I changed my exercise and saw a nutritionist and counsellor to help me process my feelings and feel better and calmer. Eventually it got so bad that I had to go on medication for it and two years later I am now off medication and back to balancing my life with nutrition and exercise. I still get anxiety, mostly at events, but I now know the tools to help with it.
What changes have you made to better manage your condition, and what has helped the most?
Diet and exercise have been huge for me. When you have feelings of anxiety and stress, the last thing you want to do is go for a walk. Movie and bed sounds better, or just getting the job done, but just making a walk happen or finding space is a game-changer. I learnt to love the gym and when I go without it for a week it makes me nervous.
Diet is also helpful because not only am I eating foods that make me feel better overall, I also feel like I am working with my body and not against it. Knowing to avoid coffee and caffeinated drinks was hard at first as I love diet coke but limiting it is now easier knowing I am helping my serotonin levels.
What are some things you have learned about yourself over your time with anxiety?
The key learning was communication. At first I would hold my anxiety and not share my feelings but now I am straight up with it. Friends, families and co-workers – I don’t hold back.
I am now super aware. I discovered I am not as carefree as I liked to think I am. I am a tad controlling and I like to know what is happening. It’s also important I communicate this with new people in my life such as boyfriends. I’ve been told I am HS: hypersensitive; I’m not convinced but I still embrace it.
What are you most proud of yourself for?
I’m proud of being me and accepting and loving me. I wouldn’t change my heart for the world.
How do you explain anxiety to friends and family, especially those who don’t understand?
I didn’t. I don’t think anyone really understands it, but when I went on medication I felt like I wasn’t crazy or sensitive and that this was real. This made it easier.
My anxiety also got to the point where the pain was so crippling that I had no choice.
What do you wish people knew about anxiety?
Everyone is different and everyone deals with it differently. Everyone has their own paths and for some people they need ‘me’ time. So respect that.
Also be careful about comparing levels of anxiety or pushing ideas onto others. I had one friend who was anti-medication and I feel like that impacted my journey a lot. I also felt like I was cheating and something wasn’t right with me for taking medication, whereas now I look back and am proud I made that step for myself.
What advice would you give to other sufferers?
If you feel like you suffer from anxiety then seek help. From anyone. For me it was a counsellor, but trusted friends, family or anyone who you feel comfortable with telling – tell them as soon as possible so they can help you before it gets worse.
Also focus on you and do not feel guilty about it. Real friends understand and they will stick around.
Do you recommend any resources/tools/apps?
What I didn’t know was how many resources there are out there! My doctor put me onto a few resources and I had a man call me daily. Lavender oil became a fave of mine for before bed and relaxing the nerves as well as Rescue Remedy. There are also phone and text numbers like 1737, in New Zealand, which can be great for when you just need someone to talk to.