How to control your anxiety, a personal story

Until last year, anxiety had never really been part of my vocabulary. Sure I had been really stressed before, sure I had been nervous. But I had never experienced what inner oppression, what constant chest compression felt like. The sheer fear, the constant adrenaline, the exhaustion from fighting it, the shame and the vital desire to make it all stop. Anxiety can be triggered by many things, and I won't pretend this article is scientific but it sure is personal. For me it started after a complicated last year in the UK, that coincided with experiencing the death of a loved one. And it sure did get triggered by work. Everything had accelerated around that time and I found myself in a new environment challenged by the constant fear to disappoint others and to disappoint myself, battling with the terrifying thought that all these years I had been a fraud. Twice it led me to panic attacks that left me scared and ashamed. What had I have done to myself and how could I fix it? Here are few things that did help me, some are affordable to all, some aren't but if you do find yourself recently living with anxiety, I can only encourage you to seek whatever means of help are available to you. Anxiety does not define you, nor is permanent, if you're willing to get out of it.

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#1 Relationships

If you are lucky to be in a healthy supportive relationship, or if you have solid transparent friendships or if you are closed to your family, letting yourself being taken care of is crucial. Open up about your vulnerability and lean in the relationships. Listen and accept the affection and the advices. They might not understand it all, but they will come from the best place of all, that is love.

#2 Therapy

Not necessarily available to all, but it is known to be hugely helpful and it's 2017 - the taboo is long dead. I can only tell you that for me it felt like salvation. Not only does an expert give you the right tools to understand and progress, but an expert is also unbiased and not as emotionally charged as a relative. There is only so much your loved ones can/and should take on. I personally pushed back a lot before going- I thought I was clever enough, introspective enough and that I had already all the support system I needed to make it. I was wrong. Find a person that suits you and give it a month trial. It could change a lot of things.

#3 Exercises

For me sport is mandatory. I'm known to never skip one single day at the gym. It brings me balance, and this last year  helped me immensely in evacuating thoughts and even anger. Whatever floats your boat, from yoga to running, from boxing to cycling, find something that leaves you happy and thirsty to come back for more comes tomorrow.

#4 Belief

Call it Faith, call it meditation or call it spirituality, what I know is that I believe. I believe there is something bigger than me, something greater than me and that things do happen for a reason and that in every season there are lessons to be learnt and blessings to be found.

#5 Mindfulness

I'll admit that I'm not an expert at it. It's something I keep on trying and I wouldn't even say that I 'properly' meditate, but I have experienced the power of staying in the now. To train my brain to enjoy that gym class, to enjoy a long shower, to enjoy a walk and to forget about the more anxious parts of my life that I couldn't control. If you can work towards focusing your thoughts on the now, on the present moment, a certain peace will come and anxious thoughts do get cast away.

#6 The right food

I used to drink between 4 and 5 coffees a day. I'm now down to 2 on my weekdays. I just learned with experience that coffee triggered more anxious thoughts and that a cup of herbal tea or mint infusion was more soothing and would ground me. What you feed your body in these times of uncertainty and stress is vital. Try to bring goodness through vegetables, fruits, a lot of clean water, vitamins and good fats. Avoid sugar as much as possible as it increases your insulin levels and will drive you to that 'wall' within an hour and leave you down.

#7 Distancing yourself from certain situations

Whatever your anxiety might be around, I found that stopping watching certain series or removing myself from some social settings and groups of people for the time being helped tremendously. We are not super humans. If clubs, alcohol (drugs), certain apps or even TV programs leave you feeling anxious, just take the conscious decision to distance yourself from them. Your health is more important than trying and doing it all.

Anxiety yes is a serious thing, and it can feel daunting to even call it out loud. It took me months of denial and tears to realize I needed, no I wanted out. Our 9 to 9 lives are meant to be enjoyed and lived to the fullness of greatness life has to offer. Don't hold back on getting help. 

Evodie F.