I just wanted to write a little something about anxiety, managing it and living with it.
Many years ago, I never really understood anxiety, I knew about stress and I knew about depression but I didn’t appreciate what anxiety was, however it has been a companion since my son died 12 years ago, a shift that occurred with grief and trauma. But anxiety can strike anyone at any time, there doesn’t have to be a big event to cause it. Anxiety can be a huge part of being a mother – with juggling, with the responsibility, with the stress of sometimes doing everything – and it can be part of life as women get older because the perimenopause is the gift that just keeps on giving.
My anxiety comes and goes, there isn’t usually a specific trigger, I just start to feel anxious and I have to manage it. I could probably take medication to manage it but I choose not to because most of the time I feel well and I can handle it. But I have learnt through times of not being well how to best handle it for me.
Anxiety is with me at the moment – I am still functioning well, forcing myself out the door and doing everything I need to do, but it is there, bubbling away. Anxiety is the killer of confidence, sparkle and energy and I absolutely hate it.
So, how to handle it. I use a combination of tactics…
- ignoring it – sometimes I just carry on as normal but with more deep breaths and positive speeches to myself.
- breathing – focusing on my breathing to slow it all down, to clear the noise in my head and get rid of the thumping in my chest. Knowing how to relax can be crucial to managing anxiety.
- lists and notes – I am a huge advocate of writing it all down, getting the noise in my head out onto paper. It usually looks less busy when I can look at it and there is far less to worry about that I thought.
- get out for a walk – fresh air, space and the chance to think works wonders for me. Exercise gives me a boost which can make me feel on top of my anxiety.
- am I doing too much – sometimes I need to slow down, I can be guilty of taking on too much.
- having an honest conversation with myself – am I stressed? Am I doing things I feel obliged to do? Do I need to make changes? I have been changing a lot in Birth, Baby & Family to expand and take it in a new direction which has come after a period of being unhappy with some of the things I was doing.
- giving in to it – there are times when I just have to go with it, when I hide under the duvet and watch Netflix until it passes a few hours later. This doesn’t happen often and I just know when I need to step back and give myself the space to wallow.
- telling people – it can be really lonely so talk it through with people you trust.
- caffeine and booze – I don’t drink booze when my anxiety kicks in, it just doesn’t help and I have to watch my caffeine, if my coffee is too strong when I have anxiety, it makes it worse.
For more support…
- talk to your GP about it for more support, you can be referred for therapy and there may be a conversation about medication
- MIND provides great information about coping strategies, treatment and support
- Anxiety is not a sign of weakness – EVER! It is estimated that 1 in 5 adults will experience anxiety at some point and there may well be so many more people who are suffering silently.
- It is important to acknowledge your anxiety and to find your way of managing it. It’s not always easy but will make a difference.
- Reach out, get support and look after you – please don’t struggle on alone.
Janine | Birth, Baby & Family
A specialist in pregnancy, birth and early parenting