Anxiety sucks. Plain and simple. I know the first sentence of a blog post should be more than two words, but I decided to make my grabber short and to the point. Anxiety effing sucks. It makes so many things that should be so easy, so hard. Why do I feel bad for asking my boyfriend to help me do the dishes or get me a bottle of water, why did I feel weird asking my professors for help on assignments I didn’t understand, why do I feel like I’m rude for asking for help or for starting a difficult conversation? I’m not, no one is. And it is so horrible that a mental disorder can make us feel that that is how it is. Anxiety isn’t something that is overcome magically with the words “It will be okay” Anxiety is tackled with day to day hard work and it doesn’t really get easier to handle, eventually over the years you just get better at handling it. I wrote this blog post in hopes that maybe I can help someone whose anxiety keeps them from being able to have basic conversations like me. So here are some of my tips on what I do when I find that my anxiety won’t allow me to just communicate the way that other people can.
- Close your eyes and take deep breaths (mini meditation)
If you can close your eyes and imagine the world slowing down to your pace things honestly seem a little easier almost instantly. Part of what anxiety does is it makes your head spin a million miles an hour and makes you think up irrational nonsense about a situation or about yourself and when you can take deep breathes and try to imagine that for a minute the world isn’t moving or that you control the pace then it’s easy to stop and actually have a rational inner dialogue with yourself. And once you give yourself a moment to speak to yourself a little more rationally it’s easier to speak to other people with the idea that if you ask them for a favor or give your opinion they won’t think all the negative things about you that your brain initially tells you they will. After you give yourself that pause it’s easier to ask your ego (the part of your brain that likes to tell you bad things about yourself) “why in the hell would my boyfriend think I’m lazy for asking him to do his own laundry?” or whatever the case may be. This leads me to my second tip.
- Remind yourself that your mind plays games
Even if you have to tell yourself 1000 times before having an important conversation say it in your head or even out loud until your ego stops speaking over your true self. It is so easy to get caught up in the negative things your mind likes to tell you but that doesn’t make them true. In fact, every initially thought that you have is probably the exact opposite of how real life is going to pan out. With anxiety it can be hard to separate what others are actually thinking and what your mind is telling you their thinking. Sometimes you begin to ask a question and you hear exasperation in their voice and automatically think “Oh no, they’re already fed up with me.” But one thing I constantly have to remind myself that makes me feel better is “not everything is about me” the look on a person’s face, the tone in a person’s voice, or even their reaction may not have a single thing to do with you! So, when your mind plays games and tries to tell you “they’re upset and it’s all your fault,” don’t listen because trust me it’s the furthest thing from the truth. A person can be having a hard day for any reason, not just because of you.
- Listen to some music
This will probably sound so lame or stupid to some people but yes, I listen to music to pump myself up to have a conversation sometimes! I have always found my greatest strength after listening to certain songs. Even when I was in labor with Ava I had a playlist for that! Sometimes it will be something loud with lots of emotion in the lyrics and sometimes its light and playful to distract myself from the negative thoughts I’ll have before confronting someone. Honestly, music is my answer to almost anything and everything.
- Take a short walk and gather your thoughts
Sometimes getting your endorphins going is exactly what you need to help you kick start more positive thinking. Not only does it help you think more positively, but it gives you that extra quiet time to think about what you’re going to say when you start whatever conversation it is that you need to start. It gives you a moment to plan out the tone you want to have and think about how you’re going to get the reaction you’re looking for and also how you’ll react if you don’t get the reaction you’re looking for. It is important to remind yourself “I may not get what I want out of this but that is okay” Getting your body moving is always a good idea when you feel any anxiety coming on.
- Think about the best-case scenario
One thing I’ve learned throughout my life is that I am the thing that is always standing in my way. Seriously, my self-doubt has held me back from SO MANY things in life. And that unfortunately is a giant part of anxiety is having to constantly hear that little voice in the back of your head tell you that “You can’t do ____” or “You’re not good enough to be ____” Believe it or not we do have 2 voices in our heads. Our own voice and the voice of our ego and as mentioned before it is the voice of our ego constantly telling us “You can’t” and for me it’s a fight to keep telling that voice that it is wrong and that great thing can happen for me if I do ___ because I’m more than capable of doing or being ____. Like I said it is an everyday fight to believe my voice instead of my ego’s voice and while I’m so much better than I was before I still have not mastered it, but it is definitely the one fight I feel is worth having. This little battle that I’ve decided to face every day has actually been one of the biggest life changers for me.
I know some of these may seem silly to some people, but they definitely work for me! I hope that if you try them out they’ll work just as good for you! I know starting conversations can be hard with anxiety, but you don’t have to allow it to consume your life! When I decided my anxiety wasn’t going to be who I am my life changed. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t like flipping a switch, I have to work at this every single day. But the work is worth the freedom I have now!