Friday, 23 August 2013

Stress: You vs Yourself

Okayyyy so for today’s post I’m going to write about stress/anxiety...

I consider myself a pretty outgoing, confident person who really tries not to let stress or anxiety get to me too much. However, I do have to say that medical school has been a whole different “ball game” so to speak. Being away from my family in an atmosphere where everyone is “buggin’ out” in Grenadian terms (aka uber stressed) can start to get to really anyone.  As for anxiety, I can admit that I’ve definitely experienced that put-on-the-spot jittery feeling, with a racing heart, a red face, complete with the voice cracks of a teenage boy... the feeling that makes you really just want to crawl in a hole and hide. My point is: everyone gets stressed and everyone gets anxiety on different levels (even when you think you're invincible).

I definitely started to let stress get the best of me a few months ago and I want everyone to know that it's very possible to turn things around. I had never experienced any anxiety in my life, so I didn’t really know what was going on when it started. When people used to say that they were having the worst anxiety and that they needed to sit down or something, I’d pretty much shrug it off and say “you’re fine, there’s nothing wrong with you”.  However, karma nipped me in the butt when I too started to experience my own anxiety. My anxiety got so bad that it was to the point where I’d sit at my desk and my heart would just start racing. Then I’d feel a sense of vertigo and just wanted to get out of the library as fast as I could. I tried to blame it on too much coffee, or poor eating habits, or not enough sleep etc. I even at one point thought I had a cardiomyopathy ha (as most med students know, the more info we learn, the more things we try to diagnose ourselves with outrageous things). I started to feel anxious even when I had stopped drinking caffeine. I’ve never been claustrophobic at all, and even simply getting in the back seat of a car started to make me anxious. I felt like I was losing complete control, thinking of any reason under the sun for what could be causing these feelings.  Finally, I came to terms with the fact I, the person who could drink 4 cups of coffee and a red bull a day and feel perfectly fine, had a problem with anxiety.

The next step was now what? Basically, I learned that anxiety is very common in students living away from family, in a setting such as medical school with overwhelming stress, and it even has some genetic factors; my sister Lindsey and I always joke about how our faces turn red when we’re caught off guard, or how our voices both crack if we’re put on the spot and we literally are like-geeze this is soo embarrassing. But anyways, in short, fixing anxiety has to do with the way you think and approach situations. Here are some tips that I think are very useful:

1. Imagine yourself in a situation that makes you anxious over and over until the thought of the situation doesn't bother you anymore 

2. Get rid of black and white thinking and mix in some grey. ie. “oh crap, I’m in a situation that makes me anxious, now I’m going to get anxious, I can feel my heart racing ahh”. That would be the black. The white would be not feeling anxious at all, possibly by avoiding the situation in general. Now go for grey thinking- this situation will probably make me anxious, but it’s likely that I’ll live through it and it won’t be that bad.  

3. Make goals to conquer your fears! 

4. Eliminate avoidance. Avoidance just perpetuates anxiety. 

5. Learn to breathe! Try to breath from your diaphragm and through your nose at a slower rate to help calm yourself down.

Thats all for now!
#happyfriday #nostress


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