Worrying Women: Are You Part of The Female Anxiety-Plague?
Let me help you overcome anxiety
Recent shocking statistics from the Mental Health Foundation suggest 7 million of us suffer anxiety. We all know how unpleasant those stomach-churning, fear-inducing feelings can be. I find women in particular have certain anxieties revolving around how we feel in comparison to others. With anxieties involving things like do we look as good, are we achieving as much, are our relationships as happy, children as well-behaved, etc., as those around us.
Take my mini-quiz to identify your levels of the female anxiety-plague:
1/ Do anxious feelings drive you to negative behaviours like comfort eating or drinking?
A/Yes, I have a big problem reacting in negative ways to anxiety
B/Sometimes I do negative things like comfort eat when feeling anxious
C/No, I don't react to anxiety in this way
2/ Do you compare yourself unfavourably in any way to the women you know?
A/Yes, I'm always comparing myself negatively to other women
B/Sometimes I compare myself unfavourably
C/I don't compare myself unfavourably
3/ How frequently do you worry about being "good enough" - whether in the way you look or in what you do -
A/ I'm always worrying about being "good enough"
B/I sometimes worry about being "good enough"
C/I rarely/don't worry about being "good enough"
4/ How often does anxiety keep you awake at night?
A/Most nights I lie awake feeling anxious
B/Some nights I lie awake feeling anxious
C/Rarely do I lie awake because of anxiety
5/ Do you constantly worry about having to "prove" yourself (e.g., that you're doing well, that your relationship is great, etc.) even to your friends?
A/ I'm often trying to show/prove how well I'm doing to others
B/I sometimes think about how I can prove myself
C/I never/rarely worry about proving myself
3-5 A Answers: SKY-HIGH ANXIETY – you're part of the female anxiety plague
You’re prone to damaging levels of anxiety. The sooner you address this, the better. The longer anxiety affects you, the more entrenched it can become with 3 to 4% of the population suffering serious generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Those with GAD feel anxious with almost every waking moment.
Take action on anxiety now:
Take Control - Right now anxiety is controlling you rather than you controlling it. Keep a diary for a week of your anxious thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Then examine it and familiarise yourself with "the enemy" - your anxiety. Note when your anxiety peaks and what sets it off, etc.
Understand The Enemy - Having familiarised yourself with the pattern of your anxiety over a week think about what you've learnt. Maybe you’ve identified that particular people or situations that make you anxious. Then, once anxious, you respond in negative ways. If so, question yourself why you give them this power over your feelings, leaving you anxious?
Plan Your Tactics - Maybe you need to assert yourself with certain people or start expecting a more positive response from yourself. Plan what you need to say and practice it, giving you confidence to set your boundaries. Or maybe you need to stop putting people on a pedestal. Practice visualising others as ordinary people doing ordinary things. Get quirky and imagine them in the bathroom! This’ll help get them off those pedestals you've put them on.
Stop Comparing - You've got that little "devil on your shoulder" that keeps comparing you to others around you. The moment it starts chattering is the moment you tell it to "stop!" You have the power to silence those nagging doubts making you anxious that you're not as good as others. It takes practice and needs to become a habit. Just as your habit to compare yourself unfavourably to others needs to be broken.
Out of Sight, Out Of Mind – While chipping away at your anxieties avoid dwelling on fashion magazines, etc., that make you angst over how you don't "look like others".
Do You Own PR - Not only should you "talk yourself up" daily but you should learn to sing your praises to others where beneficial. It's no good slaving away on a project that your manager’s too busy to notice. Ask them for five minutes and give them "the headlines" of what you've accomplished. You can share your successes, ideas, and happy moments with friends and family without sounding arrogant or self-centred. And it gives you a chance to ask them about theirs.
See Your GP for potential CBT referral - If you can't get anxiety under control then definitely ask for referral for cognitive behavioural therapy.
1-2 A Answers: RISKY-LEVEL ANXIETY - you're susceptible to the female anxiety plague
Although you don't have sky high anxiety you need to prevent anxious feelings getting out of control. Try the suggestions above.
No A Answers: LOW RISK ANXIETY – you're at very low risk to the female anxiety plague
You're able to challenge anxious feelings and keep things in perspective. At the heart of the female anxiety plague is an urge to compare yourself. You’re more concerned with getting on with your own life than worrying about how others live. That's the right attitude!
An edited version of this was published in The Express Newspaper