Tag: On Social Anxiety

TAPPING INTO YOUR ANXIETY

Anxiety is so personal, isn’t it? I have come to understand that over the last couple if years in particular. What I feel is what I feel and how I deal with it is personal, too. Make no mistake about it, I am not carrying it around like a thorn in my side or being pessimistic about it. I am just saying that when it is in my space – it is a force to be reckoned with.

Recently, someone told me about the children’s book There Is no Such Thing As a Dragon. In short, a little boy discovers and befriends a small dragon living in his home but his mother refuses to believe that the dragon exists. So the dragon gets bigger and bigger and only when she faces the fact that the dragon is real does it shrink to normal size. The little boy makes the point that the dragon just wants to be noticed.

Ah ha! Such is anxiety.

This is one of the tips in my latest vlog, Tapping Into Your Anxiety–Acknowledge it. And after doing this, you can gain control to manage it. Sounds like a plan to me. Check out Tapping Into Your Anxiety on my You Tube channel and please do give us a like and subscribe.

Take care of you inside out.

UIO’s Second Most Popular Podcast Named

This week we continue sharing hot tips from our most popular podcasts of all times.  Second up is On Social Anxiety with Claire Eastham! Like the first, On Personal Development with Robyn Spens, this podcast is packed with hot tips but we’ve pulled out the top five, which wasn’t an easy job at all. They’re all great.

Anyhow, first on the list is Recognising the Signs. Experts agree that social anxiety is one of the most unrecognised conditions of all times, often mistaken for being shy.  Number 2, Get Help!  All too often we don’t  get help for our mental health issues but getting help is the first step to healing, as it is with physical help.  Check out the entire vlog here.

And keep watching this space for our back to school mini series coming in September, loaded with tips on how to navigate our new world order.  Remember take care of you inside out and See you soon!

 

Dealing With Anxiety On All Levels

So, what is making you anxious nowadays?  If you are anything like me, you might be thinking where shall I start? There is a mountain of worries on a world scale and sometimes equally as many on a local scale. Few will challenge that notion, but it’s the personal ones, if you ask me, that really get the adrenalin flowing.

And before you know it, you’ve had something beyond an adrenalin rush that makes you think you are having a medical emergency.

Been there and done that. That’s anxiety, this feeling of unease, like a worry or a fear. Unfortunately, it happens to us all from time to time and to some people it happens perpetually.  In other words, bouts of anxiety range from mild to severe and when anxiety is severe, it is usually then considered a specific condition and treated as such in the best-case scenario.

But here is the thing. Anxiety comes under the umbrella of emotional and mental health, whether it is mild or severe.  And just as we can do things to maintain good physical health, we can do the same with mental health.  And when more severe mental health problems arise, we can get  help just as we do with a severe physical illness.

I’ve been fortunate enough to do three podcasts around mental health, one of them specifically on social anxiety, a more severe form of anxiety. Check out our podcast, On Social Anxiety, with Claire Eastham, who suffers from social anxiety, for a better understanding of what it is and what it is not. As Claire says, it is not a fear of people, it is an overwhelming fear of being judged by other people so much so that you isolate yourself.

In any case, I’ve learned a lot from all three podcasts on the matter and have gleaned some tips from the interviews, research and personal experience.  Let’s start with how to maintain good mental health to ward against anxiety.

  • Understand your anxiety. Call a spade a spade. The minute you do this it loses its power. This is one of the best tips I have ever received, and it just so happens it came from Laura Miles, guest on Your Body Image Inside Out.
  • Make time for your worry. That’s right! Give it its props, isolate it and move on.
  • Face the things you want to avoid. Claire Eastham points out that if you don’t anxiety wins.
  • Challenge your negative thoughts. That’s a biggie and goes hand in hand with positive self-talk.  Cheryl Grace talks about the importance of this in Your Confidence Inside Out.
  • Shift your focus. Get practical and physical by doing something you enjoy which relaxes the mind, such as yoga, running, or even journaling.
  • Talk about It. A problem shared is a problem halved. 

What about getting help when anxiety becomes more severe and interferes in your daily life.

  • Realise it is not your fault; it is a condition.
  • Reach out to adults/counsellors, people with more experience in the area.
  • Get a diagnosis, if at all possible. Once you know what it is, it is possible to then treat it, as you would a physical illness.
  • Care for yourself. Lots of options here including eating right, getting enough sleep, and managing the time you spend on social media.
  • Talk to someone you trust. It is important to give the negative feelings airtime so that they don’t stay buried in your mind.

So, whether it is mild or severe, anxiety can be managed for a happier and healthier life experience.  Again, check out UIO podcast for more tips.

 

Keeping Anxiety At Bay

Anxiety has a way of getting up close and personal during the busiest of times. And let’s face it, the holiday season is ripe for the picking. With all the latest Christmas ads launching in the UK this week, including John Lewis’ Christmas ad, the pressure can start to rise be it from a financial perspective, or the pressure to host the best Christmas.

Here is a recap of such an incident that hit me hard in 2018. How the feeling that something was seriously up with my health but the reality was that I was experiencing anxiety.

Back to this place and time in 2018.

Most of my shopping had been done, plans had been made for the big cook off, I had a lovely champagne tea organised with two close writer friends to celebrate my birthday and of course, Christmas was a major success. All was going on track with UIO, too.

I was poised to deliver a blog  and plans were progressing on some exciting work to do with our website and the Wait Awhile campaign (this was back with the planning!)

 Somewhere in the folds of my mind, I must have been unsettled because little by little the symptoms of anxiety began to needle me—a prick here and there, all the regular stuff such as feeling tight and restricted on the oxygen flow that runs deep within. Try as I did to ignore it tossing and turning throughout the night, I sort of caved in upon rising Thursday morning.

Instead of leaping out of the bed and counting my blessings, I lay staring at the ceiling thinking what is wrong with me? I felt so tight muscular wise but also tight inside as if I was going to smother. All sorts of out of the periphery answers streamed into my head and caused the weight of my worries to get even heavier.

At last I dragged myself out of the bed and two hours later turned up at my training session rather weary. You see on the drive there, things got worse. Every time I coughed I felt a pain right behind my left breastbone but I persisted.

It was only after admitting the symptoms to my wonderful personal trainer, Laura Miles, that I begin to face my reality. Though what I was feeling felt like all sorts of other very serious conditions, it was anxiety, even if I didn’t think it had a right to be lurking around. Enough said personally.

The point is as we approach the end of the year, we are bound to feel more stressed than ever. And though this is meant to be a festive, fun and relaxing time of the year, in reality it can be quite the opposite. The body goes into the fight or flight mode—you know the one in which released hormones activate the nervous system to cope with a dangerous/threatening situation.

Sadly nowadays, we often find ourselves highly stressed, in fight or flight, unnecessarily, which can lead to panic attacks and so on. Our latest podcast episode Series 3: Episode 6 – On Social Anxiety which compliments another two podcasts around Mental Health  Series 1: Episode 6 – Your Mind Inside Out and Series 2: Episode 2 – On Undiagnosed Mental Illness offer excellent advice and hot tips on how to manage stress. Great listens gearing up for the holiday season and during it also.

In the meantime, here are some tips on keeping anxiety at bay.

1) Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Admittedly, I jammed too much in for one day. Had I spread the joy over a couple of days, I might have spared myself some anxiety. 

2) Limit drinking (avoid drinking for teen girls). Not a big drinker at all, but I like my champers, particularly during a special occasion. Surely a glass of champagne and a glass of wine in the evening couldn’t have contributed to the issue. It can and likely did as when the body is already stressed, alcohol, as a toxin can fuel the situation.

3) Breathe deeply. Shallow breathing has become a way of life, which is unsustainable, and it was only when Laura suggested some breathing exercises to takes breaths from my diaphragm that I started to feel my oxygen flow naturally again.

4) Turn off the chatterbox that is on continuous loop. When she says you need to go to the emergency room (A&E) for this and that, revert to point three, lying flat on your back and touching your stomach to feel your breath, if at all possible.

5) Catch a breath of fresh air. Go for a walk, a run if you fancy, that is if you are not on crutches. That can put you at a disadvantage for high impact activity but by all means, get outside if you can and again revert to point three if the sun is out and the grass is dry.

6) Eat whole foods and avoid foods that you cannot tolerate. I know, it’s cold and sometimes it’s easier but remember diet is so important.

But having a calm, out of fight or flight mode, holiday has to be worth it to both your body and your mind. It is to mine.

Take a listen to our latest podcast episode. Claire Eastham has some brilliant tips on social anxiety, remembering that it isn’t your fault, how she lives a normal life, even with anxiety disorder. She has some great tips on belly breathing, as well as a You Tube video too.

We’d love to know what you think of this episode and others!

Giving The Brain Its Props

It has been quite an insightful experience for me to do our podcast On Social Anxiety—such a common disorder but perhaps just as misunderstood or perhaps even more than health anxiety, which I could write a book about. But I won’t as this blog is not about being called a hypochondriac with a view that it is all delusional rather it is about being typecast as shy or eccentric and therefore being often begrudged any empathy or support for your condition.

Thankfully, I haven’t suffered with social anxiety but UIO guest Claire Eastham, best-selling author of We’re all Mad Here, has and  was able to shed some light on just how serious the matter is.

Too often we simply give the body a lot more respect than the brain, Claire explains, citing examples like not telling someone that they have to run in a race when they have a broken leg, as opposed to telling someone that they have to recite a presentation like everyone else; they are not different, no matter how much they are trembling at the notion. 

The instruction is often with good intent, which is why education about the disorder is so important. Unchecked, unmanaged social anxiety can lead to serious health problems, amongst them panic attacks, which I have had. Claire also gives insight into what a panic attack can feel like and believe you me, it can feel absolutely awful.  Amongst the whoppers that I have had was the one that sent me to the emergency room, totally convinced I was having cardiac arrest.  And though all checked out fine, the doctor sent me on to a cardiologist to be absolutely sure that I was well.

The point is, Claire stresses, your brain tricks the body to feeling that it is under threat and you either think you are going crazy or that you are going to die. But the good news is there are some great tips on our podcast on how to mitigate social anxiety and panic attacks.

In the meantime, as I reflect upon my teenage years, I can pinpoint a few situations where a fellow student most likely had social anxiety and was tagged as eccentric.  In one particular case, my friend was painfully quiet but not really shy when you got to know her, but she certainly struggled with socialising. During a major time in her life, she was visibly sweating and shaking to the point that everyone thought she would collapse. But even then, people said that she’s just weird and she should just get on with it.

To this day, though I don’t see much of her, she’s isolated from her peers because people see her as an outcast because she struggles in social situations. Seriously I am hoping that the word is getting out, particularly amongst teenagers, that social anxiety is real and left undiagnosed, can cause great harm to your mental and emotional health.

Though there aren’t any stats that I know of confirming that girls suffer social anxiety more than boys, girls do deal with related issues disproportionately such as questions with body image. To this end, they want to be perfect, look perfect, etc…. and can obsess about their body in any case and if suffering with social anxiety, the obsession can become worse, leading to even more harm.

For example, Claire talks about looking at her face several times before meeting a friend but knowing that once the moment is over, it is over, whereas on social media, the moment is never over because there is a selfie, a picture to remind you that you are not perfect, at least that is what your anxiety tells you.

Thus, the importance of getting the word out that social anxiety is real, it is not something that everyone has (something an acquaintance said to me) or a dislike of people as Claire points out.  It is a very serious irrational situation in which people struggle with socialising at high risk to their mental and emotional wellbeing. 

Key here is to give the brain its props. When it is unwell, it needs to heal equally as much as the body. Have a listen to On Social Anxiety on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Or sign up for our RSS feed to ensure you never miss a UIO podcast, a great resources for teenage girls, their parents and guardians and teachers, too.