*I received one weekend family pass to Oz Comic-Con for myself and one weekend family pass for the purpose of a giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own.*
Anxiety is something that I have been dealing with in increasing intensity after the last few years. It has stopped me from doing things that I love. It has stopped me from doing things with people that I love. Worst of all, the guilt of not doing those things has been worse than the anxiety too.
I have been adding to my therapy toolbox with my psychologist. Being mentally healthy is hard work, but with practice some of these skills come without me having to think about it. I want to share those tips with you.
- Have an exit strategy. One of the most overwhelming things for me is feeling like I have to commit to x amount of hours. I work myself up about not being able to last that long. I find that allowing myself an exit strategy if I need it helps to alleviate that overwhelm. More times than not, I end up staying longer than I planned too.
- Best. Worst. Most likely. This is a skill that my psychologist has passed along to me. What is the best outcome from the situation? What is the worst outcome? What is the most likely outcome. Also, if the worst does happen, what is the impact in the grand scheme of things? Will I be safe? Will those I love be safe? This strategy also helps to brainstorm ideas for what I will do, if the worst outcome does eventuate.
- Practice mindfulness. Focus on the smaller things around you. Find something you can smell, something you can hear, something you can see and something you can touch. If you find it easier, don’t be afraid to use headphones while out too. I feel more overwhelmed when using headphones, so that one doesn’t work for me, but I know others have found it helpful.
- Make a plan. If possible, sit down with the event map prior to the event and work out where the things that you want to see are. Work out where the amenities are situated and also where any food trucks/shops are.
- Wear something you’re comfortable and feel good in. This one might seem like a no brainer, but I know that when I wear clothes that I don’t feel 100% comfy in, that heightens my feelings of being judged. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t feel judged, but right now I live in an anxious world.
- Take a comfort item. You need to do what makes you feel comfortable in a situation that often literally feels life or death. If having a stuffed animal, or a baby blanket helps that, then I say go for it.
Anxiety is a selfish bastard. I’m sick of it taking away the good things and making me feel guilty for it. I’m kicking back!
To celebrate kicking anxiety in the pants, I have a little giveaway! I have one (1) family weekend pass to Oz Comic-Con to giveaway to one lucky winner. The winner can choose from Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane. All you have to do is answer one question:
What is your best tip for beating those pre-event jitters?
Competitions ends Wednesday April 7th at 6pm!
Terms and Conditions
- Entries close on Wednesday the 7th of April 6pm EST. Entries received after this time will not be entered into the draw.
- This competition is open to Australian residents only.
- One entry per household. Multiple entries will be removed.
- Valid entries will answer the question ‘what is your best tip for beating those pre-event jitters?’. This is a game of skill.
- All decisions are final.
Linking up with Kylie for IBOT! If you like to blog on Tuesdays then head on over!
My tip is to chew gum.
My psychologist told me that if you are eating, the fight or flight response shouldn’t take over, you won’t be stopping to eat if you are in danger after all. So chewing gum helps keep my mind a little calmer even at stressful, crowded events 🙂
I have my own travel pack, like a therapy “toolbox” I call it my “go bag” a nice little handy zip up pouch fitting simple but very helpful items to help me through anxious times. Without it, I do feel insecure. It contains fidget toys, things that help with stress, a small ticking clock face that I like to use to help me remember to take my time and breathe with the sound. I have items that can help me be active such as a ball I can throw/bounce and some other things to help soothe myself using self soothing techniques from DBT. I have added anti anxiety medication as a last resort complete with cards to help me communicate when in a state of panic and with relevant phone numbers if needed.
It’s small, easy to slip in a small bag without adding too much weight and makes attending events much easier because I am comfortable knowing that I have strategies. It may seem a bit excessive but I feel I can confidently leave the house knowing I have these skills. We all have our own items we can use. I have what works for me and my phone with a very helpful and calming playlist also.
Does buying extra valium count? ☺
Seriously though, I have a mind game similar to your best/worst one. It’s called the glad game and, although I’ve seen many therapists, it was taught to me by a friend who was coping with depression but it works for my son & I in anxiety causing situations. It goes like this: ah shit, I’m not happy about X but geez I’m glad that Y. So, I’m not happy that I’m feeling trapped by all these people but I’m glad I got Wolverine’s autograph. In essence, trying to balance out anxiety with comfort. It’s certainly helped us out in some uncomfortable situations.
Good on you for kicking back. I often implement an exit strategy too, but I’ve also started using essential oils. I’m finding lavender is doing the trick to help calm me down.
I’ve always done the comfort item for the kids, but never thought to do it as an adult. Such a good idea.
I try to make sure I’ve cleared the days before and after. That way I’ll be reasonably rested, and know I can rest afterwards. I also leave early. Not too early, but I don’t stay longer out of politeness. I give my best self then cut and run 😊
Best. Worst. Most Likely is brilliant. And so simple. I have a child I might introduce that to. Interestingly, Most Likely isn’t the best or the worst, usually. TOP TIP!
To prep for an event, first I do some meditation. (I really like the “f@#ing good meditations” on you tube.lol) Then I put my mask on (some would call it “make up”) and get into my costume (also known as whatever is clean & comfy in the washing basket). I talk it out with my besties (My Fantastic Five) and hatch an escape plan to battle all evil (insecurities, depression, anxiety, judgements, bad guys, etc). As I walk out the door I put on my screen of invisibility (activated by putting on my sunnies), I check that I have my comms unit on hand – fully charged with a spare power pack (my trusty mobile & spare battery), then I tell myself, as I imagine my undies on the outside, ‘Wonder Woman – You got this!’ As I approach my target I hear the words of the great Bowie in my mind, and he’s right, ‘We CAN be (Super) Heroes just for one day’!
My best tip: Be Your own Superhero!!
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Thanks heaps Tegan!!! 🙂
We would all wear hoodies to block out some visuals
We would have as much info as possible as to what to expect at the expo
So no surprises
Visual maps and timetables for public transport
Drinks and snacks and chewing gum
iPad and headphones and books and pens
Thankfully for me, my low-dose meds take care of all my anxiety woes. At times I feel I should stop taking them, but then I remember what a bastard anxiety is and I just can’t be bothered dealing with it. X
To control my pre-event jitters I:
imagine myself in control (sometimes with eyes closed) and
Really great tips here! The power of saying no is something I have recently put into action to combat stress and feeling overwhelmed when there is just too much going on. I have also recently discovered flower essences both for me and my children and find they are extremely useful. #teamIBOT
When pre event jitters strike I try to think about why I chose to go in the first place and what the good things will be about going. This can often work as I make my brain realise going is a good thing rather than something to be anxious about. If that does not work then I think of a worst case scenario. If everything goes wrong what will happen? Chances are that means a crap day rather than anything severe like injury, death or even embarressment. If my brain is still playing through scenarios then I will try a mindfulness exercise and then some distraction. Like reading a book or watching a funny TV show. Plus I make sure I have distraction for the journey. If on a train then I have a book or magazine to read. If I’m driving then I listen to some favourite music or if I have my son with me plan a game we can play together. Of course sometimes things get too overwhelming or with me I have a physical chronic illness as well as mental. Sometimes I have to understand that going along to something is simply not wise and then understanding that and allowing it to be okay to make that decision.
Great post with grea tips Tegan. I like your strategies. I’ve never been as ‘anxious’ as in the past 2 years when IBS came to stay and I have to have little plans and exit strategies to manage a ‘what if I suddenly need a loo’. However, things have worsened recently and I am currently doing what I can between mindfulness, new medication for high functioning depression & breathing techniques to ensure I can leave the house when I actually have to for appointments. You are an awesome model for keeping it healthy and real for those with mental health issues.
A big smile and an attitude of fake it until you make it always works for me at a nerve wracking event.
My tip is to breathe. As simple as that sounds, it really does help me to calm myself and detach myself from the anxiety I feel. I close my eyes and breathe in and out and repeat it to myself in my mind.
I like to make sure I pre-organise my things and my time- set out what I will wear in a place it won’t be moved, make a time when i’ll start getting ready, when I plan to leave, and have my bag packed ahead of time with one more of everything than I think i’ll need. Nothing makes you worse when you’re already anxious about something than not being able to find that top you want to wear, or the pair to that shoe, or rushing because you’re late. And even something as small as realising i’ve left my lip-balm at home can send me scurrying right back there.
I call it ‘setting myself up to have a good time’.
Take 2! I was re-reading this when I realised my biggest “aid” for coping with anxiety at public events are the people I’m with. My “comfort item” is my son, partner and best friend. Apart from work I rarely go anywhere without one of them. Each of them has been with me when I’ve had a panic attack in public and they are wonderful at supporting me – take my hand, find a quietest space and play the glad game with me. I hate that my 8 yr old knows to do this but I know he’ll make a great partner/dad one day himself. He’s my little super hero!