Understanding Anxiety: 3 Tips for Empathy


Everyone wants the health and wellness professionals around them to be highly credited, intelligent and well versed, and to have made it through the hurdles that they are facing. I am very confident in two out of three of the above criteria, but I would be lying if I said I have successfully handled every negative part of my life. This is what makes me a great health coach. The trials and tribulations I have faced not only make me relatable, they allow me to help in a way that many cannot.

I have been working on a blog post about fear and anxiety for about 6 months now. This is such an unbelievably important topic to me and so many others... Especially people with chronic illnesses. It is taking so long because I want it to be perfect, but I have ditched that dream and decided to make it as real and genuine as possible.

Insane amounts of people deal with anxiety. I think with anxiety, sometimes it's easier to avoid the trigger. But with avoidance you begin to miss out on things. And what is life if we isolate ourselves?

I write this as I am sitting at an airport bar, facing one of my biggest triggers. Flying. Let me back up a second and explain this. I spent the first 22 years of my life flying multiple times per year. I was lucky enough to be a part of a family that had the luxury of traveling to amazing places. I had anxiety as a child, but never about flying. One horrible, terrifying flight from Arkansas to Connecticut changed everything. Since that flight, I have not been able to fly without getting sweaty (sorry, TMI), without my heart racing, and now- without reaching for that bottle of anti anxiety medication. I never saw myself reaching this point.

I consider myself to be put together and confident, but in this aspect of my life... I'm a mess. I've overcome almost everything I'm afraid of, but the fear of flying wins. This post might discredit me in the eyes of some, but as I write for many others, and myself... this is what we need you to know.

1. It's not rational. I am aware of this, and it sucks. It is embarrassing to have this fear of something I know I shouldn't be scared of.  Show me you understand. And if you don't actually understand, please try.

2. When trying to help me, DO NOT start your sentence with "At least..." This is something I am currently dealing with. If I have to hear "At least your flight is just an hour!" one more time, I'm going to lose it. My anxiety does not care how long the flight is. My anxiety cares that I am traveling tons of miles above ground.

3. Do not think that you have to say something and make it better. This is my battle and I am working on it. There isn’t anything you can say to me that I haven’t already said to myself. 

Be there for those around you. That's all we need. Just be there. Whatever gives you anxiety, work at it, keep facing your fears, and keep trying to be as strong as you possibly can.