Managing Anxiety - Routines

I have lived with anxiety for 28 years now, and try to not let it take over my life. There are a lot of times when it has and when I would avoid social situations not because I didn’t want to go but because I couldn’t cope with the build up to it, with the “what ifs” my head would create and the self doubt. Am I good enough? What if people find me annoying? What if I don’t dress how I should? What if my tattoos make me look unprofessional? I always have that next day anxiety of “did I do something wrong?” “What should I have done better?” Replaying the day or evening out in my head almost wanting to redo it differently. Messaging people the next day seeking validation.

I’ve really fought the last 6 months in particular to break that and to push myself.

I have my certain routines now I follow and rules I put in place for myself.

1. If I am invited to something book the hotel and transport immediately and arrange childcare asap. That then stops me “finding an excuse” to not go.

2. Research where I’m going. I need to know what a venue looks like outside and inside so I can feel comfortable in that space.

If it’s an event, look at past events to see the dress code.

3. Use my tattoos to my advantage. I don’t think my tattoos make me look unprofessional (contradicting what I’ve written above) but it’s the judgement from others. However, what I have learnt is that my tattoos are a talking point and start conversations.

4. Taking my time when going somewhere and planning time to sit in my car to breathe and focus or to sit in my hotel room to gather my thoughts and give myself enough time to get myself ready mentally as well as with hair, make up etc.

5. Give myself time the next day to process the day/ night before. I block out time in my calendar and plan my workload in to cope with whatever I may feel.

6. My most important one, to be open about my vulnerabilities. I open up to people about how I’m feeling before an event, on the day, during it and even after it and it really helps me to feel safe. Ultimately, I am completely ok when I go somewhere and will be my true self. I think the fact I know there are people within that space that I can go to or who know what I’m potentially battling really works as a comfort blanket and results in me being able to let go and know I’m ok. I don’t expect people to look after me and look out for me and have to remind myself I’m not telling them to then be a burden, but because I owe it to myself to let people know in case I need help.

Due to this I’ve been to 3 amazing events in the last 6 months and have got 2 more lined up in May which I’ve put myself forward for, completely pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

Having some amazing colleagues around me definitely helps but really, if we’re not honest about our mental health “battles” and “struggles” then there won’t be that understanding.

I find no shame in admitting I am proud of things I do and two things I am really proud of are sharing my mental health story and also of my progress.


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