I have been learning to live with anxiety for 4 almost 5 years now. You would think by now that I’d already have it figured out by now, but unfortunately I don’t. You see, my brain is always formulating new ways to trigger my anxiety. Or it will fool me into thinking that I’ve conquered my anxiety about talking on the phone, but next thing you know, my cellphone is ringing but I can’t bring myself to answer it.
I have social anxiety disorder, so that means that I become very anxious and sometimes have panic attacks when talking on the phone, being in large crowds, presenting in front of a lot of people, and paying for items at the till.
I also have anxiety because I am a perfectionist. I am very hard on myself if I fail at something, or feel like I could have done something better. This causes a lot of stress and interference in my daily life.
Today in this post, I want to talk about my experiences with learning to live with anxiety and celebrating my accomplishments with it.
Dealing With Anxiety.
My anxiety has significantly improved ever since I acknowledged it’s existence. Before, I used to just ignore the rapid beating of my heart, or the shortness of breath that accompanies it. I would just push through the feelings, and sure that would work sometimes, but it was not a long-term solution. My life started to turn around when I acknowledged those feelings and said, “Hey, I don’t like the way this is making me feel. Maybe I should just give myself a little time-out, let my mind calm down and then see how I feel.”
Your mental health is so important, and it is vital to acknowledge when something is not right. After acknowledging that I had anxiety, I then made the next step of talking to someone about it. I began going to my school’s counsellor a few times a week. Talking about how I was feeling, really opened my eyes. My counsellor and I came up with solutions on what to do when I am anxious and how to avoid situations like that in the future. I started seeing her about half way through 10th grade. By the time I was in grade 12, I only really had to go see her once a month, just to check in.
Acknowledging your anxiety, finding ways on how to deal with it (that work for you), and having a healthy support system, is the key to success. Without anyone of those things, I would not be where I am today, living a totally functional life (most days).
That leads me to this- celebrating your accomplishments. Small, simple daily tasks can be huge, stressful chores for those of us who struggle with anxiety. That is why I think it is so beyond important to celebrate every task, big or small. I’m not saying it has to be a big celebration, but even just saying to yourself, “Hey, I answered the phone today with barely any hesitation, I’m doing a pretty wicked job,” goes a long way to help build your confidence. If it’s an even bigger accomplishment like speaking in front of a crowd, celebrate with an icecream, or a bubble bath. Celebrating these accomplishments help build your confidence and make things easier in the future.
An important note I must add to this though is, do not dwell on your failures or not meeting your goals! If you couldn’t pick up the phone today or couldn’t pay for your stuff at the till because of your anxiety, do not think of yourself as a failure! Those tasks are a small step for other people, but a big step for you and me. Today might not have been your day, but you can try again tomorrow or another day when you are feeling like you’re in a better state of mind. These things take time.
My Accomplishments Lately.
- Pumping my own gas- I’m not sure why this has always given me such bad anxiety, but it just does. In my mind it’s a thing that everyone does, but I’ve never really known how to and I’ve always been so anxious to do it in case I messed up! I’ve only ever gased up when my boyfriend is with me, because I make him do it. Today though, I was so low on gas that I had no other option than to go gas up by myself. Last night I literally watched a YouTube video on how to pump gas at a self serve bar, and then asked my mom how to do it, just to make sure I knew. So, pumping my own gas this morning has been a HUGE accomplishment for me.
- Getting my Drivers License- I was able to get my drivers when I was sixteen, but did I? No. Driving gave me such bad anxiety, that I held off for two years before I was pretty much forced to get it. Now that I have it, I realized that my anxiety rooted from my perfectionism. I wanted to be a perfect driver, but like every new driver, I made mistakes. The criticism and tips from my parents evolved from something innocent to something horrendous, in my mind. But I did it. I went for my license on June 16th, 2016, even though I nearly had an anxiety attack right before my test.
- Paying for my own things at the till- This has been happening for a few years now, but I still think it needs to be mentioned. Up until a few years ago, I can’t exactly remember when, I refused to pay for items by myself. I either made my parents do it, or they would come up to the counter with me. It always made me anxious counting out the change to pay, right in front of the cashier. And before they had the ‘chip’ on debit cards or ‘tap’, it made me beyond anxious to swipe my debit card. Was my card the right way? Did I swipe too fast? Too slow? So many thoughts raced through my mind. Paying for my own items still gives me a little bit of anxiety, but now I am at least able to do it.
So, that’s my story about my anxiety and how important I think it is to celebrate your accomplishments, big or small.
Comment below if there are any anxiety-inducing tasks that you have overcome! And tell me how you celebrate those accomplishments.