Last year, I blogged about my anxiety. It’s mild compared to many, but it’s there. It’s the anxious passenger I carry with me wherever I go, and whatever I’m doing. A lot of the time it keeps quiet, but sometimes it gets noisy, and sometimes it can be downright disruptive.
Just the act of writing that post (you can read it here) made me confront it, and decide to prioritise it. After all, if you do nothing, then nothing is going to change; and over the last six months I’ve done a few things that have helped me to calm that noisy little passenger when it starts creating problems. I’d thought I’d share the things that have worked for me.
The Reconnection Programme
1: Getting to the Bottom of It
The most important thing I did was to go and see Ali Moore. She is a coach, a published author, a therapist, a community celebrant, and a generally fabulous and beautiful woman. After my initial (free) consultation session with her, I signed up for her Reconnection Programme. Over the first three months of 2019, I learned so much about myself, what has made me the person I am, and why I react to problems the way I do. If you know the reason why, it’s so much easier to rationalise and deal with your reaction. Ali showed me how to take all that knowledge about myself from the past, put it in the context of what’s happening in my life now, and use it to plan my best future. She’s simply wonderful.
There is still such a stigma around visiting a therapist, and there shouldn’t be. If you’re puzzled by problems with your physical health, you go to a doctor. The only sensible thing to do when your mental health needs a boost is to find someone who can help you in the same way. I can’t tell you how much it’s helped me.
2 – I’ve upped the kindness vibes, and drowned out the nasty
Roald Dahl wrote: ‘If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.’
I believe they light you up on the inside, too. If you are in the habit of criticising or judging yourself and others, you will naturally approach problems with the same dark view. It’s a tough one to change, but it can be done.
I had a fantastic personal shopping experience with Styled by Susie in January (more here: Why Women Need Styled by Susie in their Lives), and I’m part of her wonderful online community of over nearly 8,000 members. It’s not just about the new clothes (although they are lovely), or even about the new confidence I feel in wearing things that complement my style, shape and colouring. The whole vibe of the community is about being lovely to each other, saying kind and supportive things, with zero tolerance for negative language and body shaming. It’s amazing how much of a difference that can make to your outlook – not just online, but in the world around you. I don’t listen to people who say nasty things about others, and I actively stamp down my internal critic, when it pipes up about me or about others. It’s liberating.
I’m also making sure I surround myself in the real world with positive and supportive people wherever I can. Yesterday I loved attending Empowerment Day, presented jointly by Ali with Aruna Rao, who also runs the fantastic Busy Women Networking that I belong to. It was a day full of amazing women, inspirational stories, and lots of new ideas. I’ve really found my tribe there, and that makes such a difference as well. If I can speak positively to my anxious passenger when it pipes up, and remind it that there are lots of people around to help, that’s half the battle.
Tip 3 – Control what you can, relax about what you can’t
One of the things that keeps my passenger really calm is the feeling of being in control of the maelstrom of things that need to be done every day. On top of the usual daily school routine there are after school clubs on different days for each child, homework, parties and gifts to buy for them, medical and dentist appointments, school fairs and fetes, swimming lessons…on top of that, work for various clients during school hours and in the evenings, school governor commitments, and trying to keep on top of the washing and cleaning…no different to any other household, but when it gets on top of me, the anxious passenger wakes up and starts shouting.
My bullet journal has been a gift from the gods in organising me. I wrote in more detail about that a little while ago (here), but in summary keeps everything that I need to have in my head, in one place. My tech-loving husband doesn’t really understand why I can’t just use my phone, but I can’t see it all in there. In my journal it’s all laid out in front of me, and I have felt so much more in control since learning all about it from the fabulous Sarah Sibley from Got2Jot. They say paper is making a comeback, especially for those of us who grew up with notebooks and pens, and for me it’s become my essential companion. So if you can identify something that will help you feel like you’re in control, then do it. And if it’s not something you can control, let it go.
I’m not “better” – I know that my anxious passenger is here to stay. But I now know why it speaks up, and I have a few tricks for quietening it down when it does.
Just knowing that I’m not alone is a great start – and neither are you.