Anxiety in its many forms is very common in today’s society and it can become extremely debilitating. I suffered from anxiety after the birth of my daughter but have managed to control it to the point where it only impacts upon me in a very minor way. I achieved this by taking the following steps:
1. Acknowledgement: My first step was seeking some professional help to discuss the way I was feeling and in-turn acknowledging that I suffered from Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was crucial to put a name to the panic attacks that without warning left me unable to breathe and the feeling that there was a “tornado in my brain” causing minor issues to magnify. Finally I could start to“get a hold” of this thing that had taken control of my life.
2. Asked myself “what is this costing me”? Once I was able to name this horrible feeling I was able to ask myself the following questions:
- What is this disorder costing me?”
- What is it doing to my relationship with my husband?
- How am impacting on my daughter’s wellbeing?
- How is it affecting my ability to do my job?
- How many friendships am I damaging?
I can remember one particular day driving in the car with my husband when he commented how well I had been doing recently. I responded “well don’t get used to it because I am not in control of how the anxiety makes me behave”. Later that night I reflected how completely shit it was to effectively say to my husband “don’t expect me to be nice to you and be calm and happy for any period of time because I’m not in control”….. That night I decided that I wasn’t going to be a victim anymore and just as importantly my husband and child were not going to be victims either.
3. Challenged it: One way I like to think about anxiety is the Coaching “FEAR” acronym or “False Evidence Appearing Real”. So whenever I start to experience anxiety or negativity I repeat the following affirmation to myself “that negative thought is just one possible version of reality, instead I choose to think the best of this person/situation/myself”.
4. Disproved it: Whenever I had an anxious or negative thought I set about to disprove it, for example if I thought “she clearly doesn’t like me because…..” I would think of:
- All the positive interactions I have had with that person; or
- All the people in my life that do like me; or
- All the great things about me.
Suzy Greaves in her book “Making the Big Leap: 7 Steps to Living a Brave, Inspired and Great Life”refers to this as calling on your “inner coach” to drown out “the inner pessimist”.
5. Meditation: When I am dealing with a particularly difficult bout of anxiety it helps to visualise putting the negative thoughts into a boat and literally pushing it out to sea watching those thoughts disappear over the horizon all the while breathing slowly and deeply. Other activities such as yoga, walking along the beach or guided meditations can help to move the anxiety on quickly and effectively. The Change Project has a number of guided meditations MP3’s which you can download for a small fee.
6. Setting Goals: Once I was through the worst of my anxiety I set some goals to achieve my career dreams (the source of much of my anxiety). This included annual goals and weekly actions to help me stay focused. As a result of this renewed focus within six months I was offered an incredible management role in the learning and development field and have also established a coaching practice to help working mums achieve greater happiness, balance and focus in their lives.
My anxiety has not gone away completely, but it no longer takes me by surprise and I can now see it for what it is. I am in control and able to make a choice – to indulge in negativity and listen to the Inner Pessimist or to be guided by the Inner Coach using the above techniques and move the anxiety on quickly.
I’m pretty sure we all have the inner pessimist in our heads trying to prevent us from living our best life by focusing on negative thoughts, the question is are you going to listen to your inner pessimist or your inner coach?
*This article in no way seeks to downplay the effect of anxiety disorders on people’s lives. I was lucky that my anxiety responded to therapy and making positive changes in my mindset, however, some people may require additional support to manage their anxiety. If you are suffering from anxiety, or know someone who is, I recommend you read the Beyond Blue website page on Anxiety and seek help from a trusted GP or a psychologist to work through these issues (as I did).
Kathryn Hocking is the Director of Reverie Coaching and uses her passion, forward thinking and creativity to inspire, motivate and encourage working mums and mumpreneurs to pursue their dream careers and dream businesses in a way that does not compromise their identity as mothers. Based in Adelaide Kathryn provides in-person and Skype coaching Australia-wide and internationally and is Australia’s leading Mumpreneur coach. Kathryn has been featured in major television and magazine media and contributes frequently to online publications and websites. You can contact Kathryn at www.reveriecoaching.com or https://www.facebook.com/ReverieCoaching. If you are a budding Mumpreneur you may like to purchase her Mumpreneur Workbook & Coaching Package to help you get your business off the ground http://www.reveriecoaching.com/shop/ultimate-mumpreneur-guide-to-visioning-your-dream-business/.