Last night I was at a party, it was the first time I’d been part of a gathering of more than a handful of people for a few years. Was I anxious? Yes. It is hard to explain how I was feeling, whilst I was happy to be there, part of me wanted to run for the hills. That part of me is often difficult to re-assure. But as I’ve said previously I don’t want to let ‘it’ win. So I continued to push on, knowing the door at the venue was near by in case I did decide to run.

It is rare for me to get to the point of leaving, but it has happened occasionally. But last night, I stayed put. I sat and enjoyed myself, chatting to several people at our table who I hadn’t spoken to in a long time. It was a lovely evening and it was great to celebrate with the birthday boy.

Whilst I was talking to those sitting by me, I was running my finger around the silver star on my bag. I was thinking about stars and how much I like them. I hadn’t really noticed how much it was taking my mind off feeling anxious. Stars make me smile, they are a reminder to me that anything is possible, to follow your dreams, and of course to always remember to sparkle.

As I traced my finger around the five points of the star, I came up with an acronym for STAR to help me with my anxious feelings:

Smile – You might not feel like it but even just the tiniest smile, can make you feel good and instantly give you a boost. I love to smile and I always feel good when I do – who doesn’t? It can also be contagious, just like the yawn! If you smile at someone, they will likely smile back. Give it a go and see if it helps to lift your mood.

Thoughts – what am I thinking? Are my thoughts helping me or hindering me? If your thoughts are negative and effectively winding you up more and causing you to feel even more anxiety, then stop. Take a moment, and focus on a calming few breaths. You can do this whilst sitting with other people, they don’t even need to know or may not even notice. Try to challenge the negative thoughts you have and ask yourself are they fact? If not then replace with a positive statement.

Attitude – It is so easy for us to adopt a negative attitude when we are in an anxiety spiral. So instead of going down this route, if you can, try to be positive about the situation. A therapist once described anxiety to me as your body and mind trying to keep you safe. So I always think of it as my body and mind doing their best, to ensure I am ok and not in danger. You may not be feeling particularly positive at the time but even if you restate your “I am anxious’ statement to “My body is protecting me’ can help to steer you out of a negative spiral.

Remember – Think back to the last time anxiety got in your way and made you stop in your tracks. How did you get through it then? Is this situation similar? If not, that’s ok, just breath and know you will get through this moment, it will not last forever. Each situation may be completely different from the last, for example, you could be feeling anxious as you have to talk to a lot of people at a party or you have to go into a busy supermarket on a Saturday. But whatever situation you are in remember this feeling will pass.

This is just something little that helped me, it took me all night to go through it in my head, given that I was at a party, so I was thinking about it in between talking to people. You might find it helps you the next time you are feeling anxious or worried. I find that occupying my brain during times of anxiety really does help me. It takes my mind off how I currently feel and allows me to focus on something else. Ironically, thinking about how to reduce my anxiety and coming up with STAR helped me to feel less anxious and I was able to enjoy my night.

Perhaps you can come up with other words for STAR that are more helpful to you or why not choose another word that resonates with you.

Anxiety is a pain, it appears when you don’t want it to and it stays longer than is needed. But know you are not alone and we can all get through it. It will pass and we will come out a little stronger as a result.

I really appreciate you all reading and I hope you have a wonderful week ahead.

Take care, look after you and remember STAR.

Love Emma xx

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