Before I was ever diagnosed with anxiety, I’ve always been a bit of a worrier. I remember when I was around 9 years old, my best friend at the time asked me to spend the day with her at her grandmothers charity shop. I said yes. But I desperately didn’t want to go. So I stopped eating. I was 9 years old. And I haven’t realised how momentous that was until now. Nervousness has never been my friend.
During my teen years, I never really experienced any anxiety or nervousness at all, on the surface. I was incredibly confident, loud and outgoing. A far cry from any of the words I’d use to describe myself now. But under the surface, I think I was still low key nervous about things going on around me.
And then as soon as my anxiety hit, I’ve experienced nervousness and anxiety like never before. I never in my life thought I’d feel as anxious about literally anything (I suffer with GAD, so I’m kinda low key anxious 24/7 about everything and nothing all at once).
These days, my senses are incredibly heightened. Sometimes, I’ll just wake up and something will feel “off”, which will have me feeling anxious for the entire day. But more so, actual events make me incredibly nervous. My boyfriend going on a plane. A doctors appointment. Even social events. It’s pretty exhausting.
I’ve had counselling and therapy throughout my anxiety journey. One thing my counselor said to me that’s always stuck was:
“You can worry about every potential scenario possible but the thing that actually happens will always be the thing that you didn’t think of”.
And for most cases, she was right. I learnt a lot from her. And I’ve learnt a lot about myself over the years of having anxiety too. But today I want to share my coping strategy for calming your nerves, a strategy which has really helped and after a bit of practice, can really help you too.
How do I deal with calming my nerves?
As well as practicing Yoga and meditation religiously over the last few years which has helped me massively, these other techniques have really proved beneficial and can help with calming your nerves quite a bit. Of course it’s not a miracle cure. And as always, if you’re really suffering, your GP should always be your first call.
Break it down
If it’s a particular event which has my nerves on edge, then breaking things down is a life saver. For example, when I had my hospital appointment for my colposcopy, my nerves were in tatters. So in order to cope (otherwise I would have literally had a breakdown), I broke down the day into sections.
So instead of looking at it as a whole, I broke it down into smaller parts. Part one was getting ready for the appointment. Two was making my way to the hospital. Part 3 was getting to the right department. And so on. A bit like how you might break down a particularly daunting work task into smaller tasks. This is exactly what I did.
Focus on one thing at a time
And within all those little sections of things you need to do in order to get through your nerves, really focus on one at a time. This bit is probably the hardest but after practice (which meditation, mindfulness and Yoga all come in particularly handy for) it does get easier and you can train yourself to zone in and block everything else out to a degree.
Remind yourself of what’s gone right
Often, when we’re in the midst of nerves, we look at the big picture and think what a disaster. Sometimes, the big picture can be detrimental to what we’re trying to achieve. So as well as breaking things down into more manageable tasks and focusing on those individual tasks, it can also really help to remind yourself of what’s going or gone well.
When we’re so nervous about something, we often forget to think about the positive because we’re so wrapped up with trying not to vomit or cry. But actually if you take a step back, the whole thing might not be as bad as what it feels like on the inside.
Going back to my example of my colposcopy appointment, if I successfully managed to get myself ready and get my bag together with everything I need without getting too worked up, that’s a bloody positive thing. If I safely made it to the hospital in one piece and on time then that’s amazing too.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the small stuff. The small achievements along the way to what originally seemed like the biggest, scariest and most daunting task of your life are what really matter. Because all those little things add up and suddenly, you’ve got through it. It sucked. But you did it.
What strategies do you use for calming your nerves? Will you take this with you and give it a go the next time something anxiety provoking comes up?
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