A while back, I remember speaking to a good friend – a businesswoman who carries herself with a lot of swagger – and she admitted that if she’s working inside the house a lot, sometimes she begins to feel worried about going outside into everyday normal situations.
Imagine that, I thought, A confident, self-assured business woman, worrying about a trip to the corner shop!
Yet I completely understand. I’m just the same. And so are the majority of people.
Because when you do something that you haven’t done for a while; or you do something for the first time; or you do something that is outside of your natural comfort zone, it’s totally, 100% ‘normal’ and ordinary to feel anxious.
Generalised anxiety disorder is one thing, but situational anxiety is something completely different. I worry that the increase in mental health awareness, while bringing HUGE benefits, has also led to a blurring of the lines between serious, ever-present disorder, and ‘normal’ anxiety that comes hand-in-hand with doing things that are different, frightening, challenging and often amazing. What if these blurred lines lead to children and young adults labeling themselves as anxious, using this as a reason to avoid any situation in life that causes nerves?
Just imagine what kind of lives these young people would create. Would they ever ride a roller-coaster? Or a bike? Would they ever travel? Would they marry? Would they ever get a job? Would they ever change jobs if they got one?
Without these nerve-wracking situations, life would be life-less.
When you’re faced with anxiety in everyday situations, I’ve found it helpful to remember that anxiety is your body’s way of keeping you safe. When you’re doing something different or new or irregular, your brain immediately begins working to protect you. Your whole system is geared up towards looking for threats, and preparing you just in case. When you think about it, it’s really pretty amazing. And useful.
Amazing, but frustrating yes. Speaking from experience, I know that when you’re stood in front of a room full of people, feeling like you’re about to faint and wet yourself at the same time, the words ‘useful’ or ‘amazing’ don’t often come to mind. But it has helped me to know that pretty much everyone feels the symptoms of anxiety before they perform something like public speaking.
In fact, the only people who never feel any anxiety, are people who have never done anything.
If you’re someone who does things, then now and again, expect to feel some anxiety.
It’s a sign that you’re really alive.
What situations make you ‘quake in your boots?’ Do you have any techniques to share that might help someone going through the same thing? Comments/thoughts/ideas welcome: