Hello, in todays blog post I just want to talk a little bit about anxiety and stress and how I deal with both.

If you go on Google and type in anxiety there are a myriad of different results that come up. It seems that more and more people suffer from anxiety and are now beginning to share their experiences with the world.

One major factor in this I think is the increased media coverage of anxiety which has probably stemmed from YouTube, specifically Zoella. If you don’t know who Zoella AKA Zoë Sugg is then where have you been frankly. Basically Zoë is a 26 year old blogger, vlogger, Business woman and author who started out on YouTube in 2009 and now has over 10 million subscribers (as of August 2016). Strictly speaking she started with her blog, Zoella, and moved onto YouTube after being asked by some of her readers. She, along with many other YouTubers including her brother Joe Sugg AKA Thatcher Joe and Boyfriend Alfie Deyes AKA PointlessBlog, post videos about their life to their millions of subscribers on a regular basis. Zoe has a huge following, particularly amongst teens and young adults and is very influential. She has appeared on many mainstream media platforms such as Great British Bake Off, Loose Women and This Morning.

Anyway to get to the point, Zoella suffers with anxiety and has expressed this to her fans on many occasions. I’m telling you this because this is how I discovered I suffer with anxiety. For me it all started in Sixth Form. One day it all became too much and I had a massive panic attack (which at the time I had no idea what one was and genuinely thought I was having a heart attack). I was sat watching Big Brother, procrastinating and trying to avoid revising when I started getting palpitations. My heart was racing, I felt breathless and completely out of control. After about an hour it subsided and I just sat on my bed shaking uncontrollably. It was the day before the first day of Spring Term and I had tried to push college and my upcoming exams to the back of my mind and enjoy Christmas and I can only think that that was what triggered my attack. Obviously I know that now but at the time I was clueless. I booked an appointment with my doctor, seriously fearing that I had had a heart attack, and went about trying to forget what had happened. I went for countless check ups and scans and thankfully they all came back clear. The doctor put it down to stress. As soon as I knew it wasn’t anything life threatening a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.

Months went by before I had another attack and although I knew it wasn’t a heart attack and that it was stress related I still knew very little about my triggers or how to calm myself down. At the time the only thing I could do that calmed me was to do things that kept my brain distracted. I used to play games on my Nintendo DS or watch TV (Bullseye became a favourite), basically anything to take my mind of the fact I was getting overwhelmed. Anyway one day I was watching a ThatcherJoe video and in the suggestions below was a video titled: Dealing with Panic Attacks & Anxiety | Zoella. I clicked on it and it was a revelation. Everything she was describing I could relate to. A lightbulb in my head flicked on and I realised that I must suffer with anxiety and panic attacks.

Ever since I realised this my anxiety has improved massively. Don’t get me wrong I still have days where I feel really anxious and on edge and there are still many situations that cause me to have panic attacks but I am now a lot more aware of my triggers and coping techniques. For me I become anxious in situations that are unfamiliar to me and are beyond my control. I try to set myself a routine and anything that breaks that often triggers my anxiety. I realise now that having control is my best was of coping, by taking control of a situation I can minimise the likelihood of it affecting me. Today I am feeling quite anxious, which is why I decided to write this blog post. I am currently in the process of changing job roles and stores. I was recently promoted to Assistant Manager and put on a training programme which requires me to work in a new store somewhere I don’t know and in a role I am unfamiliar with. As you can imagine this has had a massive impact on my anxiety. I can only describe it as like having butterflies in my stomach constantly. Tomorrow I will be going to my new store. This store is a lot further away from where I live, somewhere unfamiliar to me, and it involves driving on the motorway (another of my triggers although I am getting better at it). I have had a drive down to the store which has eased my anxiety somewhat but it’s still there in the pit of my stomach. I’m sure in a few days time I will be a lot more relaxed and the anxiety will subside but until then I will have to try and deal with it.

The method which I find most effective in dealing my my anxiety is to distract myself. I find that if I sit and think about what is making my anxious I will end up winding myself up and making it worse. I often go on my phone and flick through Facebook, YouTube etc anything that will take my mind off things and give me a moment to relax. Sometimes this doesn’t work in which case going for a walk is a great way to de-stress (I find). One of my favourite places to go is Lymm Dam. It’s not too far from me, around a 20 minute drive, and when the weather is pleasant it is a beautiful place to walk around. I think the fact that I used to go to Lymm a lot when I was younger helps as I associate it was positive memories and it is familiar to me.

*I am not an expert on anxiety and I need to write this as everyone is different. Some people have it mildly and some have it really badly. Anxiety is a mental condition after all and can be extremely serious. I am writing to you about my experiences and the coping mechanisms I use. If you are struggling with anxiety, stress, panic attacks or any mental problems then get professional help from a doctor.

Thank you again for reading my blog post. This one in particular has been quite cathartic as I say I have been feeling a little anxious for a couple of days and speaking about it helps me to feel a little more in control.