This week I had a conference to go to in London. As a PhD student conferences are pretty common, but dealing with anxiety can make them less enjoyable than they should be, and more challenging than expected!
For most people a quick overnight stay in London, and a two day conference would not be anything to worry about at all, but for me… it was a different story. I am now going to show you just some of the thoughts going through my head, and let you into the inner workings of my anxious brain. Prepare yourselves!
- What if my alarm doesn’t go off?
- What if my taxi doesn’t come?
- What if my train is delayed, or cancelled?
- What if I can’t get a oyster card?
- What if my oyster card doesn’t work?
- Where am I going again?
- Do I have a back up route?
- What if I don’t like the food?
- Or if I am not hungry?
- What do I talk to people about?
- Do I actually tell them about my work (I work on GMO’s many people at the meeting were very anti-GMO)
- What if they find me on twitter and realise what I work on?
- How do I get to my hotel?
- What am I going to have for dinner?
- Are there places nearby?
- What if the hotel booking has gone wrong?
Yeah… that’s just a snapshot into my brain the morning of the conference….
Some of these are reasonable worries, I think, but most now I look at the written down, really weren’t!
So, how did I cope with it all? I wrote a lot of anxiety charts- writing down the destructive thoughts going round inside my head, writing down the chances of these coming true- basically putting them all in perspective.
I am glad to say I survived the conference!! Wooh- not that I was ever not going to survive. I have done plenty of conferences before, and been to London before too- and yet at times I still felt overwhelmed by these anxious and negative thoughts..
Now I am back home and reflecting on what I did and how I coped, I am pleased. Sure I definitely had a reduced appetite on these days, and yes, I had to take some extra anxiety medication- but I went to London, I went to the conference, I networked, I asked questions, I travelled around, I survived. I am going to concentrate on all those small achievements rather than the negatives- and I can use this to back up and challenge future anxious predictions I may have revolving around a conference.
Last year I really don’t think I could have done this by myself. This year I have, and although I still have a lot to improve on, I am getting there. And I am proud what I have achieved.
For more information on anxiety and self-help treatments:
https://www.wellbeingnands.co.uk/ (Norfolk wellbeing service)
https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/freedownloads2.htm (full of free to download self help charts)
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