On your journey of discovering BALANCE, you are going to have good and bad days (you need the bad ones to help you appreciate the good ones!). The bad days can make you feel like you’re going backwards, however, that’s normally far from the truth.
Seeing evidence of your progression on paper will help you realise that the bad days are just a small part of the bigger picture.
I found the easiest way to track my progression was using an excel sheet – here’s a template you can use.
For the next few weeks, write down the date, day, a rating from 1-10 (where 1 is absolutely abysmal, and 10 is the best day you’ve ever had), and a short note highlighting what you did on that day (like a diary entry).
After a few weeks, take a look at your results.
Were there particular days that scored well, or badly? What were you doing?
Did you feel better on Wednesdays because you’d been to the gym?
Did you feel bad on Sundays because you had nothing to do?
Ask yourself questions based on your results and look for clues.
By writing down the reasons behind your moods, you can make the changes needed. For example, if on Monday you felt particularly anxious, write down what you were doing (or not doing) on that day. Do the same if you were feeling particularly good on Thursday.
When you track what you’re doing, the facts speak for themselves. Those bad days that make you think you’ve gone backwards are easily contradicted by actual results. You might be pleasantly surprised by your progress.
It doesn’t matter what your sheet looks like. The only thing that counts is that you see progress. If you don’t, keep looking for those clues. If you can’t find them, look harder – they’re definitely there. They hold the key to your change.
If you need to, go back to the ten actions to achieve BALANCE (in the book Anxiety Rebalance), and keep taking action. Positive change will come.
I’m currently at college and being bullied in class and through social media mostly on Facebook. I’m used to it as I’ve been bullied throughout school as well and can deal with it but it’s the anxiety and panic attacks that really gets to me. I’m always nervous and anxious about attending classes and checking my Facebook in case I get horrible comments. I know if I can deal with the anxiety and panic attacks better I’ll be able to get through college easier.
Firstly, I’d like to say how brave I think you are. Being bullied is horrible, and nobody (including you) deserves it, whether it’s in class or through Social Media on Facebook.
Don’t concern yourself about why they bully you – in most cases, it’s not personal. It’s just a reflection on how they feel about themselves, and bullying is a way for them to get it out.
Here’s the thing about bullies – they need fuel to stoke their fire.
If you show a bully they really bother you, they’ll keep doing it, because they get their pleasure from seeing the distress. When you don’t give them fuel (by showing them that their actions and words don’t bother you) it puts their fire out. They’ve got nothing to work with, so on most occasions they stop.
That’s the same with panic attacks, which is why I describe panic attacks as ‘psychological bullies’. Panic attacks also need fuel (a reaction from you) to work. When a panic attack begins and you react to it with more panic, it fuels it. Instead, don’t panic and accept the feelings that come with it rather than fight them, and with a bit of time they disappear.
Action for Change
Stop fuelling the bullies fire (by bullies I’m referring to both the ones at college and panic attacks). Don’t give them the reaction they’re looking for. Don’t give them your energy – they don’t deserve it. Starve them of oxygen, and they’ll disappear.
YOU ARE BRAVE. You proved that by looking for help. Use this courage to move forward.
It might take the bullies a little time to adjust to the fact that things are going to change, so be patient. With a bit of time, things will change.
If you need that extra bit of help, you might find this link to Bullying UK helpful.
I’m proud of you. Keep going, you can beat them.
Q: Sunday evenings are a real problem for me. I don’t hate my job, but I suppose like most people, I don’t love it either. Every Sunday without fail I start to worry to the point where I can’t sleep on Sunday evening. I normally fall asleep from exhaustion in the early hours of the morning. Mondays at work are always an issue for me because I’m always so tired. Is there anything I can do to stop the dreaded anxiety on Sundays?
A: Worrying about going to work on Mondays after the weekend (Sunday Blues) is very common. Winding down from the weekend to then going into work mode can be a difficult transition to make. But it’s this transition that holds the key to making the process a much more smooth one.
It’s all about balance – in your case, work/life balance. If you have a great weekend (and I hope you did!), and then all of a sudden on a Sunday remind yourself that the dreaded work day is coming, you’re teaching your body/mind to look at it as a negative. As you say, you don’t hate your job, so it shouldn’t be. This feeling of negativity is going to cause you anxiety and stress.
Instead, focus on the positives connected to work. What do you enjoy about work? What targets/goals are you striving to achieve? What will it mean to you and your career when you achieve them? We spend most of our time at work (if you work full time), so it’s important to look at it as a positive part of life, not a negative. The weekend is important, and the perfect time to wind down and relax, but it should be looked upon as part of the whole package. If you live for the weekend Sunday evenings will continue to cause anxiety and stress.
Action for Change
Focus on what’s positive about your work. Don’t live for the weekend, and break the weekend pattern by planning your workweek on a Friday evening instead of Sunday. This will make the transition from Friday to Monday a much smoother one.
Q: I’ve worked for my company for about 3 years now, and a new manager has just taken over our team. He’s horrible and comes into the office every morning angry. As soon as I see him he puts me on edge and I worry that I’m not doing my work properly and that he’ll make a scene in the office. He’s belittled me in front of my colleagues on more than one occasion and doesn’t have any respect for me. He’s doubled my workload, which I’m struggling to cope with. I’m feeling anxious when I go home, and I worry about going to work the next day. My job is quite specialist so there's not a lot of other roles available. When other jobs do come up, they normally require me to relocate, which I can’t do because of my family. My anxiety and stress levels are really getting out of control, and I’m not sure what to do. Can you help?
A: If you work full-time you’ll be spending most of your time at work, and based on how your boss treats you, it’s unsurprising that he’s the cause of most of your anxiety and stress. You’re certainly not alone in this – unfortunately, there’s enough bad managers to go around the equator, twice. First and foremost, don’t take it personally. It’s highly likely that your boss acts the way he does because of his own anxiety and stress. That’s, of course, no excuse to treat you the way he does, but it helps if you can also see it from his perspective – that it’s nothing personal, and his way of dealing with it.
Like any fear (in your case, the fear of your boss), the first thing you need to do is confront it; otherwise it will continue to cause you excessive anxiety and stress that will affect both your home and work life. Ask to speak to your manager privately, and calmly and assertively tell him your concerns. Write them down and practice them, so you feel confident about what you’re going to say when you talk to him. Highlight why you’re unhappy about the way he talks to you, and how it makes you feel. Include the fact that you want to work to your full capability for him and the team, but don’t feel you’re able to do your best work under these circumstances. Don’t be afraid to be honest, and be specific. For example, when you mention that your workload is excessive, tell him why based on your previous work, and use facts to back up your case. With a strong enough fact-based case, a rational boss (good or bad) won’t have any other choice but to cut your workload, especially if they want to keep a good employee. Confrontation isn’t easy, I know, but it’s no harder than going home at night feeling anxious and stressed, dreading the prospect of going to work the next day.
The meeting is likely to go one of two ways:
1. Your boss will respect you for being brave enough to confront him, and he’ll start to show you the respect you deserve. In this instance, your working life will completely change. You’ll be given a fair workload, and the abuse will stop.
2. If your boss doesn’t change his attitude towards you, it shows his true character. He’s a guy you don’t want to work for, and he’ll never change. In this circumstance you have two options: you can either go above his head by speaking to his manager, or you will have to look for another job. I know the latter isn’t fair on you, but unfortunately, you have to accept that you get good and bad characters in the workplace – he’s one of the bad ones, so move on. Look for a new job sensibly, and research it well (so you don’t go from the frying pan into the fire). Be as professional as you can be whilst you’re still working for him.
Whatever happens, remember, you’re the bigger person. It’s up to you whether or not his words and actions cause you stress and anxiety, or whether you decide to take them with a pinch of salt. You’re in control, and there’s nothing you can’t deal with or change.
I lived in complete denial for most of the 15 years I suffered with high anxiety. I suppressed my true thoughts and feelings, living a double life and not telling anybody about what I was going through. I thought I was the only person on the planet that experienced high anxiety. I felt scared, ashamed, and sometimes embarrassed - what would people think? I now know this was a heavy and completely unnecessary burden to carry.
Anxiety and depression are the most common of all mental health problems, with at least 1 in 4 people suffering from it at any one time. I could go on with the statistics, but the point is you're not alone.
Revival begins with opening up, and sharing your true thoughts and feelings. Bottling it up will get you nowhere. I'm not telling you to go shout from the rooftops, but at least talk to somebody - particularly if you're holding it all inside and dealing with it alone.
The more you bottle things up the bigger they seem.
If you've decided to talk about your true feelings I'm extremely proud of you because I know how difficult it can be. Opening up to friends, family, and the people closest to you can be tough. This is natural because they mean a lot to you, and the last thing you want is to be treated differently - and you won't be. You'll be respected for being honest, and the people that love and care for you won't judge you.
It took me 10 years to open up and I sincerely hope it doesn't take you as long. If it has, change it, immediately. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable. If talking to the people closest to you is a step too far, start by sharing your experience with someone neutral, like a counsellor.
Talk regularly about your true thoughts and feelings and don’t bottle anything inside. It doesn’t get you anywhere. All it does is eat away at your insides. Get it out there, share, and talk.
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Thanks for sharing!
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