Good friends of mine from my childhood are SHOCKED when I have fingernails. Absolutely shocked. For years- I used to bite my fingernails so much that I barely had nails to bite. And I did a lot of that because of the anxiety that I felt inside. I buried and pushed down so much that I was kind of a walking, talking bundle of anxiety, but I’m also a perfectionist- so I managed to function. I can also admit that I bit my nails because I was bored. However- I do not want to focus on the bored part of it in the article- I want to focus on my anxiety.
Lots of things can trigger me being anxious- an unexpected change of plans, procrastination, having to be social, meeting new people- the list goes on and on. For the last decade- I have worked in places that may be considered high stress, but have also helped me to really let go a lot of my anxiety. I am accepted and I know that they know I am just human. But that does not mean that anxiety does not rear its ugly head every once in awhile.
At the end of work this last week- I had to send 3 or 4 extremely politically correct emails in very quick succession. Confession: I am not really the most politically correct person in the world, so the act of having to draft all these emails made me super anxious. Was I choosing the right words? Did I sound snarky? Did I find that right line between being authoritative and a know-it-all? This caused me to feel super anxious. Like I could feel it bubbling beneath my skin and up my spine. Up until the last few years- this would have meant that every single one of my fingernails would have been sacrificed to deal with the anxiety. This time- it meant acknowledging how uncomfortable I felt and physically shaking myself to try to rid myself of the anxious energy.
And let me tell you- admitting it and letting the energy manifest is so much better for me that bottling it up. Admittedly, I did not go in to a full on anxious episode- but I did let myself process the anxiety for a few moments. I did recognize that this made me uncomfortable and that’s okay. Being uncomfortable is a key part of growing.
Besides that little example- what I would like to share are some of the ways that I actively combat anxiety now:
- Admit it exists and let it manifest some; holding it in only makes it worse and makes it manifest so much more strongly
- Being Prepared for situations that make me anxious- prepping is a God send. It let’s me put my mind in a good place before I do the activity that bothers me.
- Venting (SUPER important when things build up too much for me)
- Taking a step away- sometimes I just need to leave the situation and come back to it later. I usually find I have better perspective when I do this
- Being easy of myself and not always expecting perfection- as a self-admitted perfectionist- this is not easy, but it is probably the biggest thing that helps me with my anxiety
These are my ‘go to’ tips when it comes to anxiety, but there are tons of other things that I probably do not even consciously recognize that I do to combat it. I just know that I am not nearly as anxious as I used to be and therefore- I’ve got my fingernails back…most of the time…except when I get really bored.
What do you do to combat anxiety? Have any top tips you want to share?