I’ve written this post to help raise awareness of anxiety for Spink Health’s campaign. Please note, this is not a gifted or sponsored collaboration.
Anxiety hits many of us. As we are all individuals, we deal with things in our own way. But what does the term ‘anxiety’ actually mean? People can often confuse the term with ‘stress’.
Here’s how Spink describe the difference between the two:
The term stress usually describes feelings experienced when the demands made on an individual are greater than their ability to manage, and we often know precisely what it is we are feeling stressed about, e.g. starting a new job, sitting an exam or attending an interview.
But, anxiety is an unease about something with an uncertain outcome – and that unease can exist even when the cause of the worry is gone. Symptoms of anxiety include feelings of worry, apprehension and uncertainty.
Stressed. A word that many people believe you need to be a particular age in order to experience stress. Experiences of stress in my world have included times such as: exam periods, unemployment, family issues, and the loss of a loved one.
Sometimes stress can turn into anxiety just like it did with Ellie, her nana’s passing turned grief into anxiety.
Her mum says:
Ellie would cry all of the time and wouldn’t go out then her parameters changed for her exams and it looked like she wasn’t doing as well as she thought. Her anxiety spiralled and I was very worried about her. I considered taking her to a counsellor but we didn’t. Her so-called best friend was a very negative influence on her and since she has broken away, she has improved loads and is much more positive.
When I was unemployed I didn’t want other people to pay for things for me. I wanted to be happy in a workplace and progress in my career. And until I got there, I was stressing about when that was going to happen and how long I would have until my money would run out.
Stress, stress, stress!
Stressing over studies in school was pointless because I did really well. I made it my absolute utmost priority to pass every exam. When I think about it now, work was so much easier back then. College was the one that hit me really hard. It was the most difficult time between secondary and further education. I did really well in media hence where I am today.
When university arrived it was a strange experience. It was more relaxed in a way but there were deadlines after deadline. I was accused of plagiarism. I thought it was the end.
After a lot of stress and tears, it turns out my score was completely fine and there was nothing to concern them after I had what felt like a court hearing! I didn’t get the marks I wanted but getting a pass was the most important thing for me.
That’s when ‘the real world’ mattered the most to me. It was my time. I might have taken myself through a couple of temporary roles but for the age of 23 but I think I’ve done well to reach the role I’m in today.
Accepting that something has changed is one of the most difficult things for some people to do. And I think that experiences along our journey can determine how we react to certain things.
Stressing about how you look
You can beat yourself up wondering what if, and why. The best piece of advice that I can give is, to accept who you are. Work on being you.
Don’t waste your time comparing yourself to other people. I must say, I do it a lot less now than I used to. I’ve learnt that, people might be able to things better, but surely what matters is how you’re doing. Focus on your progress. People might think you haven’t experienced life but you know what you’ve experienced.
And then there’s anxiety. A feeling I have known too well and is probably a lot more under control since I started to try to worry less.
The sweat, the tension, the headaches, the worry…
I worried about things before they had even happened. However now, I like to take things in my stride. Staying as positive as possible is key. That being said, it’s easier for some than it is for others. Although, I do think that when you take things in small chunks rather than as one big bubble of worry, it can help.
It’s important for me to be anxiety-free as my medication can affect my heart rate and emotions. Sometimes I’ll get the shakes a little or pins and needles more often. And if I don’t eat, just like any human being, it affects my coordination, concentration, and wellbeing.
All of life’s experiences brings us to where we are and mould us into the people that we are.
Some people are able to explain a greater sense of anxiety, just like Sarah…
The most important piece of advice would be to seek help before it gets out of control. It’s so much harder to deal with on your own. I went to my GP for something else and I just broke down in the doctors and gave the doctor a big shock and ended up having a huge panic attack breathing into a paper bag.
This was after it getting worse and worse over a matter of months and had rashes, sickness, uncontrollable itchy skin, night after night of broken sleep, shaking uncontrollably and many more things that were all related to anxiety.
Then came the CBT which taught me so much and so many techniques to control my thoughts and feelings. It helps to prevent panic attacks and anxiety. I still use these every day and learnt so much from it.
My advice to anyone starting with counselling would be to stick with it. Persevere and have trust in the counsellor. They really are amazing. I still struggle with it often, but can deal with it a hell of a lot better. It will never go away I don’t think but I know how to recognise the signs.
I found that meditation techniques helped and that started to be part of my daily routine.
Take a look at the awareness video below.