by: Terry Ternyila
One thing that most people don’t know about me is that I suffer from anxiety. For as far back as I can
remember, I struggled with it daily, and it is still something I must actively fight to control, even as an adult today and parent of adult children.
I struggle with anxiety with new situations, driving to places, going to the doctors or appointments,
meetings at work, and social anxiety for parties and events. When I was younger this would keep me
from attending certain events or parties. I would be riddled with stress for days before going for a
procedure or appointment for something. And I would just dread if I had something to do at work that needed to be presented in a group. Over the years I have learned practices that I have put in place to ease my stress and anxiety in situations.
One of the biggest things that helps me is being organized and planning. Below are some tips that I have developed for myself over the years.
1. Make a list.
I always start out each day with a list of things I have to do for the day or even for the week, reminders for any appointments, calls I need to make, or places I need to go. This helps me prepare for the week, looking at what I have coming so I have what I need to do. The more prepared I feel, the less stressed I am.
2. Tackle the things that stress me out the most first.
If I keep putting it off, the stress grows with each passing hour or day that I don’t do it. It becomes a dark cloud over my head, so I get it off my list first and feel so relieved. Usually its phone calls and scheduling appointments that I stress about most.
3. Save important info to your phone.
Keeping important information available on my phone has become such a life saver; I make lists of medication history, healthy history, or symptoms so they are easy to access at an appointment, and I can also remember what I need to discuss, even track symptoms to see when something started.
Another pro tip: Keep shopping lists on the Alexa app so you don’t have to worry about forgetting it when you stop at the store. Just let her know what needs to go on the list in the moment, then look back while you’re doing your grocery shopping.
4. Be Prepared.
This goes for most everything I do; I think of the situation, whether it’s a work meeting or vacation, then I prepare and organize myself so I can feel confident from the start that I have everything I need – items, information, research…whatever I could possibly need.
5. Arrive early.
This is huge for me. I always give myself plenty of time and leave earlier than I need to. I have found that if I am rushed or nervous about being late, it will fuel that anxiety and it will snowball into something worse. I have plenty of time to find where I have to go and allow for a few wrong turns, and I have time to walk around looking for the office or room, even the bathroom if that’s a concern! Sometimes it gives me a few minutes to collect myself before walking in.
6. Talk it through.
I tend to give things more stress than they deserve, so I have found that I like to think it thru and ask myself “what is the worst thing that can happen?” This usually puts it in perspective in my head. Once you realize that the worst case is really not a big deal and can be easily addressed, you tend to calm down a bit.
7. Admitting your issues to others.
Growing up there was a lot less talking about feeling than today. Now there are so many more discussions and Facebook groups with people going through the same thing. I think we have all realized that what we are feeling is a lot more common than you think. So saying to someone, “Sorry I just have so much anxiety at these things” or “I am just very nervous doing this” helps bond with others that may be feeling the same way or understand what you are feeling at that moment.
8. Don’t borrow stress.
This one sounds a little weird, but I have learned that I would be so worried about getting something right in a situation where it is not my place to make sure it’s right. If I am going somewhere or doing something, and it’s not my job or my place to take care of events, don’t stress about it. If it’s not my job to take care of it, then I don’t need to stress about it for someone else, such as when my husband is planning something and I take on the stress for him.
9. Communicate your needs to your partner.
This may seem like a no brainer, but you don’t realize that we do things and never explain why we do them, so the more my husband or children know about my stress, the more they can assist in making sure I can do what I need to enjoy ourselves.
My husband is not built like me and doesn’t need these things in place, but he respects that I do. He knows both of us will have a much better time if I just have a few things in place to keep me feeling calm. Instead of just telling him I hate to be late, I explain that when I am running late it give me more anxiety, and I can’t calm down or shake the feeling for the rest of the night. Instead of him blowing it off, he understands and makes every effort to make sure I am comfortable.
Everyone is different and these may not help everyone. You need to learn what techniques you can
bring to your every-day that would help you minimize the anxiety in your life. You will enjoy
more and sleep better for sure.