To mark Mental Health Mental Awareness week, Sara Webber our Head of Marketing shares her experiences with anxiety and what methods she uses to try and overcome it.
Anxiety is a funny creature indeed, it cripples you when you least expect and can be brought on by the most unexpected and unexplained things! The feeling of unease, worry or fear can be very debilitating, especially when it just lands and there is no prior warning. You can maybe accept it more when it has a purpose, you have a job interview, a meeting with the bank manager or a first date, but when it just appears out of nowhere, it is so frustrating. I wanted to write this blog, to help anyone who suffers from Anxiety or associated conditions, and to put it into perspective. Most of you who know me, will probably think I am very confident and wouldn’t imagine me suffering from large pangs of self-doubt, which manifest into early morning attacks.
I am at a time in my life, where I find myself in a very fortunate position. Really, I have not too much to stress about ... or feel anxious about, I love my home, my cottage garden, my family and my friends... I love the A Team "Team Acorn" - I feel very at home here - I have most definitely found my tribe!!! So why do I wake at 5.30am every weekday morning in a blind panic 😱having an unnecessary anxiety attack about the day ahead... there is no rhyme or reason to it. It’s ludicrous and makes no sense whatsoever - yet I could set my watch by it. Anxiety wakes me up!
Previously I have done much coaching, mentoring and general wellbeing... I have learnt many breathing techniques, masterd several tools to deal with anxiety. I consider myself well trained enough to be able to deal with disarming, most people’s anxiety, with a few selected words and a few simple techniques... yet here I am, ping wide awake at 5.30am - groaning inwardly here we go again ! My chest tightens , my head pounds, my palms are wet... I feel like I a bowling ball is crushing my chest and the excruciating pins and needles start in my hands... I feel like overwhelmed with panic, but why me I cry???
The more ludicrous fact... is once I step out of bed and my feet touch the floor on the way to the shower... it mysteriously vanishes not to resurface until the same time the next day. It’s truly absurd in my mind.
So, what do I do… I find myself talking myself down and trying to reason with myself as to why I am being so irrational, when there is absolutely no need ! I repeat positive affirmations time and time again... I breathe until I can't remember what I was even thinking about... then boom its gone as quickly as it came.
I have stood in the sports hall at HMP Parc and addressed 500 staff, presented to ministers at the Senydd without too much of a flicker... yet in bed alone in the early hours... the day seems so forbearing, yet I love the challenges that everyday brings, so why me and why now? The answer is, I have no idea. It’s such a contradiction.
Anxiety for me is a real puzzle 🧩, which I can't quite fathom... and I like to know how things work, there is a real logical side of me. The reality is over 1 in 3 of us suffer from it, so I know I am not the only one... I have confided in friends and colleagues, and it seems it is very common... I feel a little relieved that I am not alone and it makes me feel a little more in control.
So what do I do to battle the morning anxiety attacks.... well I breathe deeply, hold my breath and exhale slowly for as long as I need to, I repeat positive words or phrases, and blank my mind from the thoughts that are running riot... This may sound obscure, so bear with me, but I actually take an imaginary paint roller and paint my mind blank... it may sound funny, but it works.... I paint it white usually, but sometime a colour depending on what’s going through my mind.
Anxiety is part and parcel of our lives, and on most occasions we can deal, but if it becomes overwhelming or unmanageable please talk someone and most importantly never feel alone ! You are so much more than your anxiety 😊 !