Don’t be consumed by fear

It’s been pretty tense around Toronto and the GTA, every time you turn on the local news station you hear about the next victim that’s stabbed, beaten or shot. We had a close one to home just recently, where an apartment complex 5 minutes down the road was taped off for attempted murder. I was none the wiser, already curled up at home and nodding off. The next morning it was still sealed off which naturally made me anxious, but I had to remind myself that it will be OK and everything will turn out fine.

It’s tough to see the bright side of the world when all you see around you is negativity and despair. I was talking to my father recently, and he wasn’t shy to let me know that he was nervous for my husband and I. I validated his concerns but I also had to remind him that we’re not the only city in Canada that has crime or a murder rate. In fact, I just looked it up, and Toronto isn’t even in the top 10 (I’m shocked).

I live just on the outskirts of Toronto, so I don’t feel as anxious, but the fact that I’m noticing more shootings and stabbings in my area is a little alarming. I also work in Toronto, too, so whenever I drive into work, I do get a ping of nervousness.
I’m not going to let fear dictate my life – I made that promise to myself a decade ago. I can hide from the world, I can move to a different city, I can even build a fallout shelter from the impending zombie war but what is that going to solve? It just gives power to those who are trying to instill fear inside of us, and I refuse to let that happen. Of course, still turn on the news, be informed – but don’t stop your life and don’t be afraid.

Anxiety & Superpowers

I’ve had a handful of people come up to me and ask me why I started this blog. It’s hard to pinpoint the correct answer as I can talk about this for hours – however, I do not shy away from the fact that I am proud to share my experiences and be a voice for others who cannot find their own.

I do this for the people who think they are alone navigating their anxiety, who believe that this is a burden they will never get rid of, who hide within thinking that if they pipe up no one will care.

Anyone who lives with anxiety will be able to agree that it is not easy. We’re in a constant state of worry, so it’s hard to find the positive side sometimes, but trust me, it’s there. Over-worrying is a blanketed term that touches all types of anxiety, and even though it can be a vice, I can see it in a favorable light as well. As the year’s pass, I feel my anxiety evolve, and my worrying has become more ‘reasonable’ to me. Sometimes I feel as if It’s a test or just my body needs to be on the ball. Dr. Jeremy Coplan, a study researcher of psychiatry at State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, explained that although most people tend to view anxiety as a negative thing, it is linked to intelligence. He goes on to suggested that even though anxiety can be disabling at times, there are some situations where there is a dangerous situation and that excessive worry becomes useful and adaptive.

Aside from intelligence, I tend to think that anxious people are also the most creative! My imagination runs wild at times, and I’m pretty sure that it’s associated with my over-worrying. I can find myself in a creative state, and like a flip of a switch, I am taken through my anxious roots almost immediately. I find it hard to channel sometimes, but I know that I can – the only issue is trying to navigate it and I’m still in that learning process!

The last and final thing that I love about my anxiety (Yes, I just said love!) is that I have gotten so good at reading people and my empathy has grown so incredibly much! So much so that I can now take on anyone’s emotion that is standing around me. It can get confusing at times because I don’t know if what I’m feeling is, in fact, MY emotion but the fact that I can tune in to specific energies almost makes me feel like I have superpowers!

I love helping out others and the fact that my anxiety gives me these positive outlooks makes me realize that overall, it’s not so bad. You need to learn how to adapt & overcome as the years go on, or of course, just be Batman.

It’s almost the end of summer in Canada, which means that I’ve been trying to get in as much face-time with those surrounding me. It’s been great catching up with everyone and discussing everything under the sun, however, what I wasn’t expecting was a general tone of disappointment.

It’s something that concerns all walks of life, and it’s how we treat one another as human beings. I never thought that the words “Kids have no respect these days” would parse through my lips at the tender age of 32, but you can bet I’ve said it more than once in the last couple of weeks. I would like to amend that sentence, however, and say that no one has respect these days. At least, that’s the perception of everyone these past weeks!

It boils down to how we treat one another; the fact that we do not care or respect anyone who is different from us is quite alarming. I see people continually putting others down for not getting something right away, for feeling anxious over something small or wearing an off-putting shirt. Why do we do this? What’s the point of berating someone for not being like you?

No one person is going to be an exact clone of you and nothing that you’re doing in your life can be marked as “perfect,” either.

Maybe if everyone got off of their high horse and realized we’re all standing at the same start point their perception could change.

Life is so much more than just one person or one family. It’s OK to be selfish once in a while, but if you base your life on the motto to “look after yourself.” you’ll start to see your private world shrink from existence. We all thrive off of one another, and the smallest action has a huge impact. We need to change who we are as a society and our negative impacts on each other and CHOOSE to build each other up.

Can you imagine what our world would be like if we all made this small change?

How to handle workplace anxiety

Roughly three out of four people deal with work-related stress or anxiety. Anxiety can affect your performance at work and your relationships with colleagues, so, how can you overcome these challenges?

Reducing anxiety at work requires more than mindfulness or a Friday Yoga Class – You must look inside yourself and ask how you function within your team and the company as a whole. Do you pipe up in team meetings? Do you try to work from home a lot to avoid confrontations? There are a few strategies to help you feel more in control and help reduce your anxiety levels

Communicate with Teammates & Be Present
Trying to make an effort to talk to everyone on your team will make it easier to address any future problems. You don’t want to go around and talk behind someone’s back to vent about an issue, talk to them directly. Though it might be difficult at first, you can reduce your anxiety by approaching the individual and communicating the facts of the situation. Don’t think it’s too late to start building relationships with your teammates. You never know, you might end up finding trust in someone whom you can open up with in regards to your anxieties.
It’s instinct to avoid people who make us uncomfortable, and the workplace is no exception. Avoidance is only a temporary solution, and you need to start being conscious of tackling these issues head-on. The more you do, the less anxious you’ll feel over time.

Know When to Ask For Help
Pride is always hard to manage, and it’s no different in the workplace. You need to learn how to start saying “yes” to others when they offer their help. Work will always become hectic, and a helping hand could be a straightforward step to avoid any sense of being overwhelmed.
If you’re not sure about a specific responsibility that your manager gives to you, don’t be afraid to pipe up either. Your superiors will appreciate all questions – it shows that you genuinely care about your job!

Avoid the Office Drama & Don’t Bring Work Home
Even though office drama can be entertaining at times, it ultimately makes your environment stressful and can lower everyone’s morale. Don’t let that negativity grow! When someone talks poorly of others, try to change the subject or call them out if you’re so bold. If we all start encouraging others and lifting them up when needed – the positivity will become infectious!

There will be times when it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and it’s hard to hang up your work hat at the end of the day. If you’re like me, it’s imperative for you to switch off and relax. How can you do this? Well, to be honest, it’s something I still struggle with at times! I found that having an end-of-work habit sometimes helps. The last half hour of my workday I reserve for tying up my loose ends at work while listening to “Epic Film Scores.” The act of putting on this music can unwind my anxious mind while my countdown to home begins

Change Your Habits
Small alterations in your day-to-day activities can drastically help reduce your anxiety. If the majority of your day fixates on your monitor, get up and move! Taking regular breaks throughout your day can give you a renewed focus and might even make you more productive.

Access Resources
If things at work are too severe for your anxiety, reach out to your manager or supervisor and ask if there is an Employee Assistance Program. EAP’s can connect you to different resources to help manage your anxiety. Many workplaces offer a couple of free counseling sessions; you should most definitely take advantage of this!

Although anxiety is an unpleasant emotion, it can be an opportunity for you to grow in your career. Show others that you can face anxiety in the workplace rather than run away from it or complain about it.

How to plan a wedding with anxiety

If you are reading this article, it can mean one of two things: you’re either planning your wedding and need some advice or, your friend is, and you’re wondering how in the hell she’s surviving everything!

Anxiety is the most common mental illness in Canada – you’re not alone. Fear, stress, and nerves are normal feelings and experiences for us. It can creep up on you at any moment and interfere with your daily activities either at work or home. Planning a wedding is hard enough and can almost seem daunting if you struggle with anxiety.

Your anxiety won’t go away during your wedding planning. There are, however, some tips and tricks to help you throughout the process!

  • Get Organized
    Planning a wedding is a challenging task, and you’ll need to get yourself organized. If you’re like me and cannot afford the splurge on a wedding planner try out these simple things:
    a) Sign up for The Knot
    This website is FULL of fantastic articles and pictures. What sold me immediately on this site was their “To-Do List” which they categorize by month for you, so you don’t feel so overwhelmed
    b) Create a Pinterest board
    One of the fun things to do while planning a wedding is to get inspired. Sometimes with an anxious mind like myself, I find it hard to get creative. Browsing through an endless amount of photos can spark some fire!
  • Figure out your Budget
    Oh boy. the tough topic! Talking to the parents/guardians on how they can support you financially! It’s tough to overcome confrontations, but this chat needs to happen. If they cannot offer you any money, do NOT agonize. Paying for your wedding can be nothing but rewarding – your way, your say! Not to mention with all the DIY projects online you can cut costs very drastically.
  • Not everything will be perfect
    As much as you want the day to pass by without a problem, it likely won’t happen. This is OK
    You’re surrounded by so much love and affection that you most likely won’t even realize if anything wrong happens. In my case, I gave my maid of honor the “Day Of Duty,” meaning that whatever happens the day of, they go to her directly. I grew up as a perfectionist, so it was hard to delegate this responsibility. You need to realize that this is your day and you need to enjoy it!

  • Ask for help
    This relates back to what I was saying beforehand – Let’s say this out loud: Asking for help is not a sign of failure.
    Once your to-do list gets created, you’ll realize it’s hard for one person to do all the tasks oneself. Not only will you have your fiancée and immediate family close to you but you did ask some of your best friends whom you trust to be your bridesmaids, they should be the first people you ask! This is what they’re here for; Try to delegate tasks to their skills. Example: My friend Alana is a very creative person, so I asked her to help me design my centerpieces.
  • Don’t forget to make time for yourself
    This is the tough one, planning a wedding is almost like taking on a second job to some people. You need to make sure you don’t cross the lines of personal and job stress. Something that helped me get through the motions was making sure that I took out 15 minutes of my time to stretch. I also caved in and shelled out some extra cash for a half hour massage (YES PLEASE). You’ll realize that once you make time for yourself and clear your head a little, you’ll be more energized and less anxious to dive back into the planning.

This should be an exciting time for everyone involved but don’t forget to keep an eye on your anxiety. If you are feeling overwhelmed it will be best for everyone for you to take a breather instead of worrying about that pesky caterer.

Know when to take a break

Last weekend was a long weekend in Canada, and instead of stressing over what to write about for my next topic, I decided to ditch the computer and laid in my hammock instead.
Even though the weekend was filled with our usual day-to-day activities, I knew that I was burning out. There are so many things that I’ve been thankful for over the years, but I think the biggest thing to have turned my life around was knowing and accepting when I was overstretching myself. One of the first things in CBT Therapy is to recognize when you have an automatic thought with triggers. It’s still a work in progress but starting to realize when I need to cool off has been so incredibly beneficial for my well being.

I know that identifying this in oneself can be hard, so here are some tell-all signs that you need a break

  1. Motivation
    Uh-oh, where did this go? You’re finding it difficult to do even a simple task, making it impossible to get any work done. When your passion starts to feel like a chore, it’s time to rest up. Don’t push yourself because that definitely will not help get any motivation back. Focus your energy on other things; you’ll be surprised when inspiration hits!
  2. Irritation
    I don’t know about you, but when I overstretch myself, I get easily irritated by those surrounding me. My husband can attest to this! I know that I need my alone time – separating yourself from others is a great way to recharge those batteries
  3. Insomnia
    Thinking if penguins have knees at 3 am? (They do!) If any thoughts are keeping you awake at night, more so than usual, get up and do some stretches. Focusing on something relaxing might make those pesky thoughts go away, and you might get some sleep! Lack of sleep will always make you feel worse so try to get away from the environment that’s making you restless.
  4. Anxiety Attacks
    This is the number one sign that you’re overwhelmed and need a break. Mix in irritability with a dash of Insomnia and BOOM; you’re experiencing an attack. Don’t be ashamed; you’re stressed out! This is the perfect time to do something for yourself: write, draw, dance, you name it!
  5. Off-Perception
    I don’t know about you, but when I get overwhelmed my sensitivity spikes up tenfold. If my Boss comes up to tell me some constructive criticism during these moments, I would ultimately take them the wrong way. If you find yourself tearing up over these types of interactions, it’s time for a break. Please do not have the “no days off” mentality, because that’s toxic. Take the days off that you need to be in the best mental shape.
  6. Crying for no reason
    If you’re struggling and living on the verge of tears each day with your day-to-day activities, you’re in a hypersensitive This is OK; it just means all of your emotions are at the tip of the bottle, and the only way to get them out is to cry. Remove yourself from the stressful situation and just let it all out. Trust me; you’ll feel better once it’s done. You’ll be able to control your emotions afterward J
  7. Head is spinning
    A big red flag of mental exhaustion is dizziness and nauseousness. Just because your mind is tired doesn’t mean your body won’t follow suit! These symptoms should not be ignored – get the relaxation that you need.
  8. Detachment
    I hate this one the most. You’re numb; you’re senseless, you’re apathetic. You don’t care! You should care. You should care IMMENSELY about yourself. You can overcome anything that’s thrown at you. Time for rejuvenation, STAT.

Have you noticed yourself experiencing any of these signs? SHARE this article with someone who seems stressed so they can get the help they need.

What not to say

When I was younger, I didn’t know how to express myself adequately. I was dating at the time and to try and get my point across on specific issues I would write out how I wanted to say it. I still can recall the shame that I would feel, fumbling over myself as I would grab the crumpled letters from my purse. My boyfriend at the time couldn’t understand why I couldn’t articulate face-to-face, and I wish that I could have told him everything, but I was embarrassed.

I was embarrassed because that’s how I was taught to feel. At this point in my life, I was still living with my Adoptive Father and Stepmother who didn’t know how to handle me. Relentlessly I was told that everything was in my mind, it’s my fault for feeling this way, and I needed to snap out of it. There were others things mentioned, too, but I won’t go into that now.

The guilt that I was feeling became more palpable as the years went on and my condition worsened. I realized that I was blaming myself every day for my anxiety and my atmosphere was not helping in any way. It wasn’t until I was living in another province that I started to heal as a person and grow.

Feeling invalid for all of those years through different people took a toll on me, so here’s a list of what not to say to a friend/family member who is experiencing depression or anxiety:

  • It’s all in your mind
  • But you have nothing even to worry about
  • Stop complaining all the time
  • I always knew you had a problem
  • There is nothing even wrong with you
  • Stop looking for attention
  • You don’t look anxious or depressed
  • You aren’t pushing yourself enough
  • It sounds like you are going crazy
  • You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself
  • No one ever said life was fair
  • You are always no negative
  • It’s your fault
  • Things aren’t that bad
  • Things could be so much worse
  • Just snap over it. Get over yourself
  • You need to get out more