There is little point going into a social situation with a long list of things that are going to make you more confident.
Focus on one or two, because that really is all you need.
Here are three. Take your pick, but if you pick any one of them, I would go for the last one. It really is the key to dealing with social anxiety.
1. Ask questions
In any conversation, the person asking the questions is the one in control. This is a great way to build your confidence, so get practising asking questions.
2. Everybody is human
When you get socially anxious, it’s easy to focus on yourself, but if you’re feeling nervous it’s highly likely other people are too.
3. Don’t care
Everybody gets judged. They do it - you do it - everybody does it. It’s time to accept this fact and not care so much about what other people think.
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I always compare panic attacks to bullies.
What does a bully thrive on? Attention, right?
Without attention, a bully doesn’t have anything to work with.
There is no fuel to stoke the fire.
When you start dealing with panic attacks in the same way, they will move on.
If you stop giving panic attacks the attention they crave, there won’t be anything fuelling their behaviour.
It’s up to you how long a panic attack lasts, or whether it begins at all.
Remember – it’s you that holds the power.
Join me on my next Facebook Live session. Like my page so you don't miss out.
Since I’ve been hosting my Facebook Live Q&A sessions, the biggest subject that keeps coming up is health anxiety.
It was a big problem for me, so I’m not surprised by how many of you out there are being affected by it.
The constant need to worry (fuelled by the anxiety habit) means worrying about your body and health is easy – because it’s the closest thing you’ve got to worry about.
The littlest change or pain will instantly spark a chain of worry, especially for the already hypersensitive, highly anxious mind.
There are three crucial things you need to do to deal with health anxiety. The third in this list is the most crucial, but you can’t do it without doing these first two things first (so pay attention to them all!).
The Less-Stress Lifestyle is now ready for your eyes (or ears, if you prefer audio).
I wrote this book to put out a strong message.
In short, that message is you don’t have to put up with being miserable and stressed. You have more options than you think you have now, and even the smallest change can make a big difference.
To give you a peek into what you can expect, here are fifteen things you can do to create a less-stress lifestyle - these have been recently featured in GQ Magazine, The Mirror, The Sunday Mail, and Woman's Own.
When anxiety gets its grubby little paws on you, it’s hard to it shake off.
Irrational ‘what if . . .’ thoughts take over and things spiral out of control.
These thoughts bounce around in your head and constant worry fuels the fear cycle. Before we know it, a bad day becomes a bad week, month, year, or even decade.
We’re all going to go through stressful and anxious times, so recognising this pattern is your first step to dealing with it better and stopping it in the future.
Here are five things you can do to instantly reduce your anxiety.
If anxiety is playing a big part in your life right now, you’re not the only one.
For years I thought I was the only one.
I suffered from high anxiety for about fifteen years, and for ten of those years I lived in complete denial and didn’t tell a soul. I thought I was the only person on the planet experiencing high anxiety until Google proved otherwise.
I’ve been through the lot, and it’s likely I’ve experienced everything you have. If you’re currently dealing with anxiety, I have no doubt you’ll be able to relate to most of the reasons I’m about to highlight.
I know high anxiety is destroying lives. It’s preventing lots of you from fulfilling your dreams like it did me.
It’s even making some of you so fearful you can’t leave your home. That makes me sad (and angry). Why? Because I was this person, and I know with the right answers and a bit of willpower and belief, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Ever since I turned my life around, I’ve made it my mission to help others do the same, and my hope is I can help you understand anxiety more by providing answers so that you can do something about it.
Here are the top five reasons you’re anxious right now, including what you can do about it.
I used to avoid self-help.
Just the term ‘self-help’ would be enough to put me off.
There was a real embarrassment attached to it for me.
Me? Self-help? How dare you!
My internal picture of self-help included high-fives, cheesy grins, groups of people jumping up and down, and arms raised up to the sky as people were overcome with an invisible power.
Although this is partly accurate, the embarrassment I attached to self-help was seriously holding me back.
That’s why I’ve dedicated this post to anybody who feels the same – because if you give self-help a try, it might just change your life.
Here are six reasons you need self-help and why you shouldn’t be embarrassed about it.
Nobody is perfect, but odds would say that, right now, you have toxic people in your life.
Let’s define what I mean by toxic people:
Ring any bells?
It’s the last point in this list that is the most important because toxic people will bring you down without hesitation.
Identifying toxic people in your life and doing something about them will prevent you from lots of unnecessary hardship and unhappiness. Why?
Driving anxiety drove me up the wall!
A massive fear of mine was losing control of my car, especially on the motorway.
Whenever I hit the motorway I’d get an intense feeling of being trapped, and thoughts like ‘what am I going to do if something happens to me and I’m stuck’ would race around in my head. It would cause a panic attack, and I’d have to pull over on the hard shoulder while trying to control my breathing and disorientation – not nice.
The fear got so bad I avoided the motorway at all costs.
The trouble was, by avoiding it, my anxiety about driving on the motorway kept getting worse over time, and I continued to avoid it as long as I could (which ended up being months).
My comfort zone kept shrinking until I became fearful of driving altogether, and I panicked at just the thought of having to drive.
I have no doubt lots of you reading this will be able to relate to driving anxiety – it’s a common high anxiety symptom.
Here’s a question I received from Olivia about driving anxiety. She’s going through a very similar experience to mine, proving how common it is.
As soon as I get on the motorway I start feeling anxious and panic. I get dizzy and feel like I'm going to lose control of my car. If I drive too close to a lorry or big vehicle I feel like I'm going to crash into it, so I slow down and try to avoid it.
I panic when I just think about driving on the motorway, and it’s getting to a point where I feel as though I’m not going to be able to do it anymore. A few days ago I had to get a friend to go on the motorway with me because I was too afraid to go on my own.
Luckily I don't have to go on a motorway to get to work, but it is preventing me from travelling to see friends and family. I'm restricted where I can go unless I get somebody else to drive or be with me, but I don't want to keep depending on others.
I’ve noticed I’m getting more and more nervous about driving on normal roads, and I’m scared it will get to a point where I’m not able to drive at all. I can’t imagine living without my car, so it scares the life out of me to think I might not be able to drive.
Driving anxiety convinced me that the motorway was a danger to my survival, so I was always on high alert. That’s why I panicked at just the thought of having to drive on the motorway, and why I avoided it at all costs.
It was only when I had a make-or-break meeting for work I had to brave it. I didn’t have anybody to drive me at the time, but if I didn’t attend, I’d lose one of my biggest clients.
I feared public transport just as much as driving at the time, so I decided to opt for the car.
The journey to my client was about an hour, but it felt like ten hours! It was a very shaky affair, but I managed it without the need of the hard shoulder.
It was far from easy, but after the deed was done, I felt more confident.
With this newfound confidence, I decided to hit the motorway again the next day. It still wasn’t easy, but again, my confidence was growing.
I could have got somebody to accompany me, but I decided this was something I had to do on my own; otherwise I’d always be dependent on someone else.
I didn’t want the momentum to end, so I decided to go on the motorway every day for the next week, even if I didn’t need to.
Every day got better.
When I felt trapped and like it was getting too much, I reminded myself what the motorway was – a bit of concrete like all the other roads I drive on. This perception of the motorway helped me rationalise my fear and put it into perspective.
I focused on the end goal rather than the extremely slim possibility that something bad would happen.
With time and practice, I overcome my fear of driving on the motorway by facing it head-on. It’s the only way to do it. If you keep avoiding driving on the motorway, how are you ever going to know if you can do it?
It was tough, to begin with. I was convinced something bad would happen, but I had to break through this fear if things were going to change long-term.
I knew if I kept avoiding the motorway the fear will continue to get worse, making it harder to overcome the fear. In the end, that wasn’t an option. Like you, Olivia, I couldn’t imagine my life without my car.
As I said, overcoming driving anxiety was difficult, to begin with, because I was working against my survival instinct (fight or flight).
But with practice and time, it will become second nature again, like it did with me. The feelings of disorientation and dizziness will disappear, and the fear will dwindle away.
In the end, I believe my fear of being dependent on others was the driving force behind me overcoming my driving anxiety. My desire to see my friends and family when I wanted, and be free to live my life on my terms, outweighed my fear of driving.
It’s our biggest fears that put us into action. If you fear losing your independence over driving on the motorway, I have no doubt you’ll overcome the fear too.
Watch my video on driving anxiety on Facebook and Instagram.
A headache is a brain tumor, and indigestion is a life-threatening heart attack.
Health anxiety has a fantastic ability to make you believe all sorts of sinister things.
And it’s not just about you.
Your entire family is at risk. Your kids, grandkids, spouse – they’re all at threat.
Dr. Google has a lot to answer for, too.
As soon as a symptom arises you hit the internet wondering how long you have to live. The answer generally comes back that you don’t have long, and so the panic starts.
You need reassurance, so the doctor’s surgery becomes a second home. You also need constant reassurance from the people around you (if you’ve told them you’re suffering from health anxiety – if you haven’t, it’s worse because you bottle it inside).
You need to know you’re not dying, and you’re sent off for numerous tests – all coming back clear.
How can that be? How can it be these constant headaches aren’t something more sinister? How can I feel this sick and dizzy if there isn’t anything wrong with me?
I don’t believe you doctor. Check me again.
Tests are clear again.
Health anxiety has won again.
Anxiety about your health is a very powerful and persuasive emotion, because it’s focused on our survival (possible death). Seeing as survival and staying alive is our #1 instinct, it becomes our #1 priority, and anything flagged as a potential threat consumes us with fear and worry.
When you overthink, it creates problems that don’t exist, and if you focus on something enough, it will become an issue.
That freckle on your skin will continue to get bigger and look more sinister if you keep looking at it.
That headache will become more frequent and intense if you concentrate on it.
The floor will feel as though it’s jumping up at you if you focus on it enough.
I found that my anxiety related symptoms were all in my head, and the more I focused on them, the more I experienced them.
It’s common sense really – the more you focus on something, the more of it you’re going to get – the more you’re going to attract it to your life.
Focus on your anxiety related symptoms and you get more of them.
Focus on what it is you want, because that’s what you’ll start to attract in your life instead.
When I focused less on my symptoms and more on my day-to-day activities, I found the symptoms subsided. They simply ceased to exist.
Rather than focus on the bad things you’re convinced will happen to your family, focus on what you and your family want and need. A holiday, a day out, or a family sit down and meal perhaps?
Take one day at a time and keep focusing on the things you want. With time and practice, every day will get better.
If there is something that requires genuine medical attention, don’t be afraid to visit your doctor. That’s what they are there for. Nobody is judging you, and your health is the #1 priority.
It’s another issue if you find yourself constantly visiting the doctor or the internet for reassurance. If that’s the case, health anxiety is becoming an issue, and you should look to do something about it.
If realigning your focus is still a struggle and you need extra support, start with a talking therapy (counselling). Speak to your doctor or contact Anxiety UK.
There is always help available, and you don’t have to suffer any longer.
Watch my video on Overcoming Health Anxiety on Facebook and Instagram.
The best way to connect with Carl and join the discussion is on his Facebook page