Tag: social anxiety

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!

 

Talking About Mental Health: The Brave Thing To Do

Though I initially wondered if the campaign team for Children’s Mental Health Week meant ‘Find your courage’  instead of ‘Find your brave’ for this year’s theme (my brain was stuck on nouns instead of thinking outside of the box), I am truly struck by the depth of the words.

The phrase really does create an opportunity to not only step up to the plate in a big situation,  but to do so in what might seem the smallest of matters, too, like, for example, acknowledging that something isn’t right mentally and emotionally and then talking to a trusted person about it.

For instance, as a teenager when I might have somehow been left out of a circle,  whether it was intentional or not, I felt quite upset about it but kept it all inside and in hindsight, I can now see how keeping quiet might have impacted my self-worth, my emotional health, putting a blight on my teen experiences. 

Still, to express my feelings about what seemed a small matter was a tall order. Quite frankly, it’s a tall order even for an adult sometimes, let alone for a child. Situations can be misunderstood and misconstrued, making matters worse. No wonder so many people keep quiet. No one wants to be chastised or isolated.

For me, this low keyed approached lasted well until a few years ago. Only after I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), that I opened up about my own mental health. Sure, I was quick to see the problems of others, but I found it extremely difficult to see my own issues and talk about them, no matter how small or large.

For instance, while caring for my mother, who had a long-term illness, I often felt beyond depressed and so emotionally tired that I could feel it deep within my bones. I just made it a norm and kept it all in. Reflecting, I wonder if unmanaged grief, along with other stresses, led to GAD.

But with the diagnosis I began to see mental health for what it really is—equally as important and urgent as physical health.  In our latest podcast Series 3: Episode 6 – On Social Anxiety, Claire Eastham talks about the importance of understanding this and getting a diagnosis but as her own story shows,  getting help is not always straight forward.  It is often not only the individual suffering, who might be in denial, but also those around might dismiss the problem or misunderstand it, too.

For example, people with social anxiety are often confused as shy or eccentric, so no wonder they find it difficult to acknowledge or talk about the issue. Furthermore, being pigeonholed or ostracised can have a major impact on self-esteem, robbing the sufferer of the confidence to talk about the condition.

That was certainly my experience as a teenager and when caring for my mother. In the podcast, Claire has some brilliant tips on dealing with social anxiety specifically and one of them is to remember that it isn’t your fault. This tip lends itself to all mental health issues. Understanding this might lead to the willingness to rethink the issue and reach out for help.

Finding the nerves to say something that needs to be said is very much about finding your brave.  What a powerful theme for all of us–adults, teenagers and children alike.

For more resources on mental health, check out our other related podcasts as well: Series 1: Episode 6 – Your Mind Inside Out and Series 2: Episode 2 – On Undiagnosed Mental Illness. Listen to UIO wherever you listen to podcasts or subscribe to our rss feed.

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.

 

 

The Voice Of Teen Girls Matters

Having a voice matters throughout life and sometimes it matters more when you are a teenager. In our podcast On Being A Teen Girl Now, our two guests stress the importance of being heard and understood, not only in family life but also in politics and other places where decisions are made and life is shaped.

We take their point and continue to work hard to advocate on behalf of teenage girls and bring them resources that lift their individual and collective voice. To this end, we are gearing up for the final three podcasts in our third series, focusing on three hot topics that teenage girls face today.

One of them is sleep. Surprise, surprise, surprise!  I was anyhow until I did my homework and had a wonderful conversation with sleep expert, Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan. Listen to UIO: On Sleep on October 9th for the real deal on what sleep has to do with wellbeing.

Not only does Nerina give us the inside scoop on how a good night’s sleep can address physical health problems, but it can do a a thing or two for mental health too. The mother of a 15-year-old daughter, this expert talks about the importance or role modelling, negotiating and working together for a better night’s sleep.

Next up is UIO: On Internet Safety, out on October 23rd.  As experts ramp up on how to keep our children safe on the internet, we had a brilliant conversation with Charlotte Aynsley, a pioneer in internet safety.

Though the biggest safety issue on the internet has to do with body image for teenage girls, Charlotte underscores lots of other concerns and points out ways for teens and guardians to work together for the overall better experience.

And the last podcast in the series delves into a topic that plagues teenagers disproportionately, particularly girls due to the pressure on them to be perfect all the time, as pointed by our two teen girl guests in On Being a Teen Girl Now.  Yes,  you guessed it: social anxiety.

Though a very common disorder, social anxiety can go undiagnosed for years as it did with our guest, award winning mental health blogger, Claire Eastham, who points out that getting a diagnosis is so key to managing and overcoming. Yet, another opportunity to team up with parents and guardians to share concerns and get the necessary help. UIO: On Social Anxiety is out November 6th.

Stay tuned for exciting upcoming series, and in the meantime, check out On Being A Teen Girl Now wherever you listen to podcasts.