So, I’ve Got Anxiety… Now What?
Let me take you back 5 years to early 2013. I was entering my final year of University studying Primary School Teaching. Back then, I was totally carefree. That was until, all at once it seemed, the pressures of my final year and a fallout with my long-time bestie shook my world as I knew it.
I started experiencing intense panic attacks that would see me crying for days on end. I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, referred to a psychologist and put on medication. The next 3 years saw me on and off the same anxiety medication, in and out of panic spirals and my self-belief and confidence plummet. Pretty heavy, right?
Today I can say with total conviction and knowing, that I love who I am authentically and am totally confident in speaking my honest truth. That’s not to say that I don’t experience any such feelings nowadays, BUT I’m now much more practiced at recognising them as they arise and allowing them to pass more effortlessly. ‘Poppycock!’ I hear you exclaim, in your best British voice. ‘She hath lied to me, it can’t be done!’
That’s exactly what I used to think when I would read articles with titles such as ‘The quickest way to banish your anxiety’, or ‘How I got rid of my panic attacks for good.’ I would instantly assume it was impossible, and that surely nobody was feeling their worry as deeply as what I was so that’s why it was easy for them to feel calm again.
Getting out this mind trap of woe was the starting point for me. I realised that continually making myself the victim, wasn’t going to help me heal so I decided to take responsibility for my actions and thoughts. This was a big, scary move because it meant that I couldn’t blame any external factors any more, and I couldn’t continue to wait for someone else to come along and save me. I gave myself the power.
There are lots of quick fix schemes, gurus and programs that all claim to have the magic answer, and in my opinion, they all have substance. They have substance because no single way resonates with everyone. We NEED the wide array of messengers, and books, and podcasts because we as a human race are so different. I say this because, these tips that I’m about to mention, were pivotal for me and continue to help me every day but it’s totes cool if they don’t appeal to you. We’re so fortunate to live in a time where there are a whole bunch of beautiful people out there, working their light, ready to help you when you need it. So, when you’re done reading about my strategies, get out there and check out some more!
1. You’ve got to feel to heal.
When I first heard this phrase it bloody terrified me. You’ve got to feel your emotions to move past them?! No. I wanted to stay right there in my warm and snug comfort zone and suppress it all. But I gave it a go, and at first I must admit that it was hard. It was hard to sit there and let it all happen, but the more I did it the more empowering it was.
I like to imagine that everything, even our emotions, are simply energy. So, when I started to feel anxious (note: started. I didn’t let it get to a panic situation) I would become aware of what I was feeling and recognise the emotion. I would then be very mindful of not attaching a story to it and letting it become a ‘thing’. Lastly, I would imagine the emotion sort of like a wave curling up and washing over me, and then eventually, it would pass. Feelin’ and healin’ baby!
2. Life is happening for you, not to you.
This line, from Tony Robbins’ documentary I Am Not Your Guru (check it out on Netflix if you haven’t already) hit me like a ton of bricks. Life is happening for me, not to me…Woah. All of the supposed ‘crap’ or ‘mistakes’ in my life are happening FOR me. This doesn’t mean that I need to know why or how it’s happening, but it does give perspective and a sense of deeper purpose to it all. I gained a sort of trust in the Universe after hearing that, and it’s made the difficult times a whole lot easier to digest.
I used to wish that I could just go back and start my life over, so that I could prevent myself from facing the uphill battle that was living with anxiety, but now I’m honestly grateful that I had that intense experience because it’s led me to so many incredible opportunities and people that I probably wouldn’t have been led to otherwise. It was all FOR my growth.
Years ago, when I was seeing my amazing psychologist, she introduced me to the practise of challenging your thoughts. This was a foreign concept to someone who was so used to believing everything that her little head conjured up. I was taught that a thought is simply a thought and it can be changed. I was given questions that would help me to screen any incoming negative chatter, and it worked.
However, I did it so rarely that it didn’t sink in as a habit, and sooner or later I would find myself back in the same way of thinking. That was until I decided to properly implement this practise into my daily life and I bought a journal. A pretty one, to keep me motivated. No shame. Getting your thoughts out of your head and seeing them in words brings so much perspective and clarity and, allows you to question whether you believe it or not. Once I started to do this regularly, I found that I started to implement the same practise in my mind too; recognising and challenging each thought as it came in. So, give it a go if you feel called to. What a great excuse to buy some new stationary!
I’m now a Life and Authenticity Coach who works with young women who are ready to let go of comparison and people-pleasing. I support them to embrace their authentic selves and confidently step into their brilliance. Implementing the practices above help me to serve others at a higher capacity, whilst also being able to relate to them as well. If you’re feeling like 2018 is your year to step out and shine as the real you, I’d LOVE to support you. Simply click this link to book a Complimentary Clarity Call and we can get started!
By Jessica Demunck
Jessica Demunck is a Life Coach, Teacher and Storyteller on a mission to support educators to live a more mindful, balanced and calm life.
Jessica is extremely passionate about the wellbeing of teachers and leaders. She believes that thriving educators create thriving communities and she is on a mission to empower teachers of all kinds to live their best lives.