Anxiety and stress situations

As you might’ve seen on my social media, it wasn’t a good end to August for me. A few spots on our 2 year old quickly became a severe rash, lethargy and fever, resulting in a hospital admission.

Obviously it was incredibly stressful and scary, and anybody would be anxious in that situation. But chronic anxiety is more than the expected worries about whats going to happen next, and if your loved one is going to be OK. Chronic anxiety invents stories and spews vitriol – it’s the obnoxious drunk that turns up uninvited to the party and spends the whole evening abusing the guests. 

Even as I called 111, it had already made its appearance. Had something I’d done caused this? Could I have prevented it? Why didn’t I see what was happening? A doctor asked had I not taken him to the GP and I clung to his judgemental words – had I acted quickly enough? Was I a terrible Mother?

Then in fed the guilt in relation to his older brother, too. Eldest starts school this week – our last few days together have been ruined, and this will be our family’s lasting memory of this important moment in his life. I’ve really let him down.

But, in times of crisis, I also have another side. My project manager brain – that houses my powerful, organised and confident unanxious self – also scrambled like a jet fighter. What needs to be packed into bags, and for whom; what exactly has each doctor or nurse said and what does that mean; what plans are in place; what are the timelines for tests and results; what happens next and how can I help.

In stress situations, I need to know all the information so that I’m able to bolster the good brain and overcome the anxious ‘dark side’.

When I was in hospital myself last year, several doctors questioned why I needed to know certain things (anything, actually) and even admitted that they like to withhold information, supposedly in the patient’s best interests.

Firstly, let me just say how damn patronising that is. The entirety of the non-medical population isn’t just a brainless horde. I may not be a doctor, but don’t underestimate me. I have a multitude of flaws and an unhealthy dose of self-loathing, but there’s one thing I’m sure of and not afraid to say – I’m smart.

Secondly. Let’s just use our common sense. If a patient (or parent/guardian of said patient) is incapable of understanding diagnoses or care plans, they won’t be asking about them. Simple.

And thirdly. Let’s stop perpetuating the myth that every single person learns, processes or understands in the exact same way. As medical professionals, that shouldn’t be new information. The ‘less information the better’ approach might work for some in crisis situations, and don’t get me wrong – there have been times where I’ve taken a full head-in-sand approach. But for the most part, I need to know. Give me the information. All of it. It might not be what I want to hear, but not wanting to hear it doesn’t change the facts. Knowing means I can do what I need to do – research, ask questions, cry, rant, share with friends… Whatever. That’s how I manage situations, and that’s my right. Because for me, and for many people with constant anxiety, not knowing is worse. The made up conversations and imagined scenarios will fully form and completely take over if you don’t have some reality to beat them down with.

I am a strong, competent and resilient person. It’s the anxiety that lets me down, that undermines me and tries to tell me I can’t do the things I’m otherwise sure I can. The key to dealing with anxiety in stress situations is finding the right tools to feed your strength and help you to avoid your personal pitfalls, to keep going and quiet the anxious beast.

Know your own reaction to stress situations
Understanding your own behaviours can help you figure out how to cope.
If you’re like me, and go into ultimate crisis management mode – absolutely use it to your advantage. But also remember that you can’t control everything, and taking on 100% of the mental load can lead to burnout, or worse.
If you know you’re prone to panic, denial, or if high stress situations cause your mind to go blank, make sure to call in reinforcements to support you.
And be on alert if you are prone to negative coping mechanisms like reliance on drugs and alcohol, or rejection of food or sleep.

Ask for help
Having a network of people around you is vital, both physically and mentally, in stress situations. I often feel that I need to do everything myself, and that I’m an imposition, even though family say otherwise. So if you’re like me, do remember that people love you and want to help – try to let them.

Reframe negatives
I absolutely do not subscribe to the idea that you should see everything as a positive. However, in really stressful situations where you feel like you could drown in everything that’s gone wrong, it does help to at least try to look at one thing differently. For example, I started this post talking about the dreadful end of August. But as my son was discharged on September 1st, I’m trying my hardest to look at it as a fresh start for the month ahead instead.

Don’t forget self care
Obviously in the midst of a crisis, you won’t be popping off to get your nails done, but hard times are when self care matters most. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to keep going. So the small things are super important.
While I was in the hospital with my son, all I’d eaten for a day or two was triangle sandwiches and packets of crisps, so my husband had sushi delivered to me. An amazing, nutritious meal made a huge difference to my energy levels and mood. And you can never overstate the importance of someone bringing you a bucket of good coffee when you’ve been drinking questionable brown liquid from a polystyrene cup in the parents kitchen for 3 days.

I’d love to hear your tips for coping in stress situations, let me know in the comments.

38 thoughts on “Anxiety and stress situations

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  1. Great post, I particularly agree with your point about self-care. It can be something as small as washing your face or as you’ve mentioned, a proper coffee!
    I find mindfulness helpful. It is something I’ve learned through therapy and though I try to use it daily, it is super useful when I’m feeling anxiety symptoms start to build.


    1. Great post there, I always get in argument with my doctor’s cause of my need to know all like come on don’t withhold information from me it mine body and system not yours and self care can’t be something as small as taking care drinking coffee or junk food etc

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Really great tips for coping in stressful situations. i totally agree with you about how annoying it is when they withhold information in a medical setting. I found it particularly bad in labour and so patronising, like they don’t want to tell you because you are too tired/ emotional etc. Hope your little one is doing better now and well done to you for coping so well xx


  3. I get stressed out way to easily and I need to take a step back and ask myself is this a big problem small problem or medium problem. Starting tomorrow I am writing in my journal once a day. No mattery what time it is so I can just get my thoughts down and feelings down.


  4. As a mom who has autism and two children with autism I suffer with anxiety daily. It’s a never ending battle. I truly hope that your family is doing better and love your tips for relieving stress and anxiety.


    1. Great tips here – I find in stressful situations my anxiety can be an asset, as I feel like I’m almost trained to deal with a crisis. You’re completely right about the frustration of not knowing- my husband is a pharmacist and doesnt hold back so is very useful for telling me medical information without the BS.
      The support network for me is a big one – talking to others sheres the load and rationalises my thought.
      Glad to hear your son is better too 🙂


  5. Great tips! I agree with what you said about self-care, and how annoying I also find it when they withhold information in a medical setting. I tried it both with my depression and now with my overuse injury.


    1. Just popping off to get your nails done! Always love your humour, even in times of crisis. And yes, why are doctors so cagey. It’s our information, our (or our child’s) body. Weird. Xx


    1. I hope your little one is doing okay!

      Sometimes all I need to cope with stress is a long bath and some time to myself. Other times I need all of that and a bottle of wine 🤣


  6. For me to cope. I have to know all of the details and information. A piece of my stress is not getting clear and accurate information! Afterward I can plan to resolve whatever it is if I can and do a self care activity


  7. In my case, Coping with stress is simply talking to someone with same interests. Someone that understand those stressing situations. And, of course I always think of myself first before the negativity controls me.


  8. Very good points! I’m glad you left the hospital behind in August and can start September on a healthy note. Thanks for sharing.


  9. I hope you son is all better now! My anxiety goes through the roof when my kiddos are sick.
    And I agree with you. The medical professionals should share as much informations as we Parents or Patients WANT or NEED. This really should not be their choice.
    As far as what I do in stressful situations is read a book. This is what works best for me when I need to take a mental break from a given situation. If I can get lost in a good book, even if it’s for a few minutes, I consider that a win.


  10. I can struggle with asking for help because I often want to get to a point where I feel I’ve done as much as I can — and that can be okay — but it would be better if I didn’t wait as sometimes what I need is the support of others and how empowering that can be that people lend a hand. Great post!


  11. You’re so strong, it’s so good to read this, thank you for sharing your advice and experiences and sending much love to you all, speedy recovery to little one xxx


  12. I am in a Wellness Group and it’s really help that I have a network now of support. I’ve also learned how to manage my anxiety with coping and grinding strategies. Self care and self-love are equally important. Very nice blog entry


  13. A very good and relatable read. I love the tips and will save this for future reference. I too hate being left in the dark in medical situations. I just had a 9-hour stint in the hospital for a serious lymph and tonsil infection and could not stand the lack of information. Some hate know, people like us need to know.


  14. This was the most incredible read from start to finish! I’m sorry for all the stress you’ve been through but I do hope September is a better month! Best of luck to your eldest starting school! I completely agree with what you said about doctors withholding info. For me it’s important to know everything so I can rationalise the situation and manage my expectations. I also agree that it’s important (but difficult) to have support. I’ve always been really independent but the last year or so of A levels has been so tricky and I relied on my parents constantly!


  15. So glad you son’s discharged!
    Information + Understanding of our limit + Support + Perspective + Self care = We got this! Thanks for sharing this formula. We can all use it.
    May September be way better. 🙂


  16. I`m so glad that your son has been discharged!
    I totally relate to the thoughts that arise from having chronic anxiety! It is awful.
    I am wishing a beautiful September for you!


  17. This post talks about a reality I wish I didn’t know… it’s hard to be easily driven into a fight or flight response on a regular basis. You mention a lot of important aspects that can really make a difference on how we deal with a stressful situation once we’re already there! Nourishing meals, feeling cared for… I’ve discovered that creating my own positive mantras helps me a lot too. I hope your little one is now doing better and that you can take extra good care of you to recover. It takes a toll on us.


  18. I would love to tell you how to better cope in stress situations, but seeing as I just hyperventilate and go sit in a corner so I don’t have to speak to anyone, maybe I’m not the best to give advice. Great post!


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