I’m officially one year older now! I celebrated my birthday with L in London, just the two of us and the city. We went out for drinks, ordered a pizza, walked a little bit around the city centre and went back home before midnight – after all, it was a Monday night. Friends and family called or texted their birthday messages, which was very heartwarming and comforting, and I brought croissants to the office. Chocolate and almost croissants if you were wondering, my favourites. I still have to choose my own personal gift for my birthday, I might wait to be at the duty-free stands at the airport though.
During the past few weeks, I forced myself to concentrate only on my birthday as that was the first big event of the season. Now that my birthday is gone, I can’t avoid the thoughts of the bigger event that’s waiting for us in a few weeks. And as with any social events I attend, anxiety and stress have knocked on my door, always on time. I’ve not really talked about this topic before, but I think it will be beneficial for me to write about it – and maybe there’s someone out there who will feel more normal after reading it.
Whenever I have to go to an event where there are other people around, I feel nervous and slowly start to lose control. I’m not a shy person, maybe introvert rather than shy, but I am still a bit of a control freak and when I go out, I wish I could have everything under control but I don’t, I can’t. Therefore, I normally succumb to the pressure of expectations (that I kindly put on myself) and here’s what happens:
- I throw my good diet habits out of the window. I start eating sweets, stop eating fruit or vegetables and skip meals. I normally try my best to eat healthily and drink plenty of tea or water so these sudden changes are not welcomed by my pour stomach.
- My body reacts to the change in diet in a variety of unpleasant forms such as troubled digestion, bad breath, bloated stomach and pimples. That makes me feel even worse because by then I know for sure I won’t feel at ease or I won’t look as good as I wanted to and I just feel like I’m a failure.
- Self-sabotage: I unconsciously follow a plan to self-sabotage my night out. I am still not sure why, even when I now consciously am aware of it. I may end up being late or forgetting something important, hurt myself doing chores around the house or change plans last minute, usually for the worst. I opt for a different dress or shoes or makeup that makes me look clumsy, I take a different route from the usual and get lost or I forget the purse at home.
In the years, I’ve developed a series of techniques I use to calm myself down, lessen the feeling of panic and gain more control over the situation. There’s no scientific explanation here, just a lot of trial and error and common sense. These tricks work for me but they may not be the solution for everybody.
- I take 5-10 minutes aside to just breathe. A sort of self-made meditation technique, I breathe in and out and either I count my breathing or I imagine to be somewhere peaceful. Sometimes that doesn’t make a difference, sometimes I actually start to calm down, it depends on the situation.
- A hot bath with bath bomb included is a must, the scent of the bath salts and the comfort of the water are a godsend in these situations.
- Plan ahead and stick to the decisions I’ve already taken, even when I start doubting them. Planning ahead, making lists is what is saving me these days. Once I write down everything on paper, it won’t disappear or change with my mood. It’s there and I just have to follow the schedule.
- Stick to dark chocolate. Avoiding sweets won’t work, it will make things worse. It’s safer to allow myself to have some but of the healthy kind, with dark chocolate and hopefully some dried fruit as well. Also, it’s important I don’t make a fuss if I don’t manage to stick to this rule: forgiveness is key. Otherwise, I’ll enter panic mode.
- Keep practising sports the week before the event. Every time I stop running or doing my squats or going to the gym, I lose focus and the ability to see things under the right perspective. Sport helps me feel good but also keep seeing futile problems as such.
- The most important thing for me is to be aware of everything I’ve written down on this post. Knowing what’s coming, being able to recognise when my thoughts are just stress driven and letting them go is the number one trick that calms me down.
It was quite helpful to write everything down in a tidy and neat post. It’s definitely not a major issue for me now, but big events may trigger some anxiety and I think that’s quite normal. I’m proud of how my approach has changed during the years and that I have now developed an understanding of how my brain and body work under pressure. I also loved writing this post about more personal issues.
I hope you are all having a wonderful week and have an amazing weekend planned and that I’ll see you again soon on my blog!