As I find myself sat around a table of successful, intelligent and beautiful women in their 20s, I find it difficult to believe that any of them have ever experienced anxiety. It's thought that women are twice as likely to experience anxiety than men and it doesn't take me long to realise that this might be true. It's only when I listen to other women talk about their anxiety that I realise just how debilitating it can be. What confuses me the most is that these women appear to have everything in their favour, so what is it that's causing them this anxiety?
Initially I assume this is all down to hormones, a chemical imbalance perhaps? But when I start to think about the pressures women are put under, it's no wonder we begin to lose a grasp on things. With the intensity of social media, women are the worst for comparing their lives with their friends and even strangers online. As a woman, we are expected to have it all; mainly because we want it all. We want to have a career, be attractive, slim, have a partner, have a family, be popular. Essentially we want to be the best at anything and everything. So it's no wonder as we push ourselves to the limits personally and professionally, our take on reality gets a bit muddy.
So did we in fact bring this all on ourselves? A part of me thinks that I to am guilty of this self-infliction. Since I can remember I've always been a worrier. Even at a young age I would worry; Will my friends still like me tomorrow? If I eat that second packet of crisps will it give me a weird disease caused by oily potatoes? I even worried about my parents dying and even my own death. As an adult my worrying ways have eased, but at times old habits creep back and spiral out of control. On the surface, I too have it all; a successful career, a loving boyfriend, a close family and loyal friends, but I know exactly how these women feel when it comes to anxiety. Don't get me wrong we all have those days where we don't want to get out of bed, the Monday morning blues, or we feel like we can't face THAT daily meeting. But anxiety is a whole other level of emotion, and feelings that are hard to keep under control. I have known friends to cancel social plans even if they really wanted to attend, experience sleepless nights, worry over the smallest of issues, and constantly compare themselves to other people. All of these sound like menial feelings, that most people can just push out of their minds, but it's really difficult to describe just how powerful anxiety is. At its worse it can manifest into a panic attack and in most cases lead to relying on anti-depressants. It's something we need to take control of and not let it define our day to day lives. Easier said than done I know!
If I have learnt anything from my relationship with anxiety its finding a way of nipping it in the bud before it goes too far. Everyone has different ways of coping; a close friend of mine enjoys a Renne tablet, another one uses Rescue Remedy or Lavender Oil. There's no right or wrong when it comes to this. I find what works for me is a healthy routine and including things that make me happy into my daily routine. If I could tell myself and all those other women in their 20s one thing, it would be; 'its ok not to have it all, just enjoy what you do have.'
Here are my top 5 ways to keep anxiety under control. Give it a try!
Run it off...yes you heard. Get your best pair of trainers on and get outside. You don't even have to run, you can jog, skip, or even stroll, but getting outside and exercising will make you feel so much better. The good vibes will keep you feeling positive. I like to start the day this way!
Healthy isn't always boring! Trust me, the healthier you eat the better you will feel. I'm not saying don't have any treats, but I think there is a lot to be said for you feel what you eat. Keep it healthy and light and you'll have so much more energy and all those vitamins keep your body and mind happy and healthy.
Get those Zzzzz's in. Sleep is your best friend, don't ever forget that. On average we need between 7-9 hours of sleep, and getting a restful night's sleep will help you to feel refreshed, energised and ready to take on the day. My top tip with this is to make sure you relax before getting under the duvet. Put your phone on aeroplane mode, but your laptop away. Find a good book or some relaxing music to send you on your way.
Say no to that extra cup of coffee no matter how good it tastes. We all need a caffeine boost every now and then, but it really can do the opposite for you if you feel anxious. Caffeine can make your heart race, and send your energy levels up and down. Try replacing one coffee a day with herbal tea instead. Peppermint or camomile are known to have calming effects.
Just breathe. Take a moment to breathe in deeply and exhale. I know it sounds silly but finding a breathing rhythm helps distract those anxious feelings. Step away from whatever it is you are doing and just concentrate on slowing down your breathing and getting perspective on the situation.