***DISCLAIMER: I am in no way an expert/professional on this topic. I simply speak from personal experience and research carried out***
After reading Sarah Wilson’s “First, we make the beast beautiful”, my stance on anxiety massively changed for the better. For as long as I can remember, I’ve fought and struggled with anxiety.
These consisted of – legging it in to the house each time a plane flew past (because I was convinced it was going to come crashing down), getting overwhelmed in shops with loud music, and struggling to breathe when reading in an English lesson. And they’re only a few examples of a long list!
Cut long story short, over the years I’ve done everything in my power to fight the anxiety and get rid of it. I’ve felt ashamed and apologetic for my anxious ways, and have found myself feeling especially ridiculous for feeling how I’ve felt.
Don’t get me wrong, anxiety is one of the biggest annoyances and can be a traumatic thing to go through – this isn’t me glamorising anxiety. This isn’t me letting go of the fight with anxiety but USING it to my advantage. I’ve begun finding ways of taking advantage of it, helping to ease my panics and get work/chores completed on time. Sounds strange right?
- Utilise the fight or flight
Known as the acute stress response, the fight or flight response is a physiological reaction that occurs when you are faced with something frightening. Back in the caveman era, this response was triggered by the release of hormones that prepared your body to stay and “fight” or run away to safety – “flight”.
Unfortunately, anxiety almost feeds off the flight. We take great comfort in safety over risk. But as we all know, no good ever comes from our comfort zones.
The best thing you can do when faced with fight or flight mode is use the adrenaline, and that doesn’t mean going and running a marathon. Whatever is a good distraction but requires energy – do that.
2. Project the strange thoughts into your work or creativity
One thing I took from Sarah Wilson’s book was how we can positively project our anxious thoughts into our work – especially beneficial for creatives. As a writer (can I call myself that?), I’ve found that this has enabled me to delve into my own struggles and USE them to better my own work. Consequently, this has improved my mental wellbeing and helped me to help the small group of people my blog reaches.
Ask yourself, how can you use a worry, struggle, or fear of yours to your advantage? Could expressing it through a picture drawn, words written, etc help you utilise something negative/challenging?
3. Accepting the anxiety doesn’t mean letting it stop you from living your best life
Only a few months ago, my anxiety tried it’s best to jeopardise what’s ended up becoming a huge positive in my life. The morning of starting an internship I did over the Summer, the thought “you could just not do it, you wouldn’t have to experience all this anxiety then” crossed my mind.
For a second, I did toy with the idea. And then I laughed at the prospect of letting my anxiety rule my actions, as I would’ve done a short time before. Because what the anxious thoughts and feelings didn’t know was how much better I’d mentally be months down the line for doing the internship. It didn’t know that the scary new thing would see me meet some of the best people, grow, and develop so much more than if I’d succumb to what it’d tried to tell me.
Flipping anxiety on its head takes time. It’s not getting rid of the anxiety – trust me I’ve tried – it’s showing it that 99.99% of the time, what it’s telling you isn’t true. I’m not trying to say it’s easy because it’s not, I still have my days just like anybody else. But a change in perspective has certainly helped.
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Ciao for now x