Lucy Smith became an Anxiety Management Mentor after she overcame her own struggles with anxiety. Lucy turned to a combination of personal development, self-care and routine to help her move beyond her fears. After this life changing transformation it became her mission in life to support as many people as possible with their own struggles.
“I have been shy for as long as I can remember. As a child I struggled speaking up even to family and friends. Presentations and speaking made me feel physically ill. Throughout school I was quiet and never felt like I fitted in with everyone else. I realized I was shy, but I though it was normal. I just thought that everyone felt a bit shy too and that that was just the way it was. I thought, I’m just a bit nervous. I’m just a bit shy, I’m just a bit anxious. I just had no idea already about mental health in general. I just accepted really that that’s who I was.
I definitely think that my shyness contributed to my anxiety, actually. Because, if I hadn’t felt shy, I probably would’ve had more confidence and been a bit more outgoing. If you think about it, if you’re shy, and you don’t have many friends, because you’re shy, and you’re not confident in social situations because you’re shy …. that could lead to you feeling anxious and having fear about those situations, which will then lead to potential panic attacks or ongoing anxiety.
And then, about five years ago, something happened that made me realise I really needed help.
I was in a supermarket with my sister and she just wandered off. At that time, I didn’t know what anxiety was. I didn’t know what panic attacks were. I didn’t know anything about mental health. But her wandering off, triggered something in me. I felt physically sick, shaking, crying, and feeling like I was completely out of control with my body. I couldn’t calm myself down. I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t know how to control it and how to manage it. It was so extreme, that I realised something was wrong, and that, that kind of reaction wasn’t okay. So that was the day that I made the decision that I had to see a doctor and got referred to a counsellor.
When I went to the doctor, the conversation I had wasn’t very nice. Looking back, it’s funny, but at the time I didn’t feel like that!
He asked me, am I unhappy at work? Am I unhappy with my family? Am I unhappy with my relationships and friendships? I said, no, I’m not unhappy in any of those areas. And he said, well, the problem is you then! I was like, oh wow, okay!
He then referred me to a counsellor who luckily was really in touch with personal development and actually set me on a proper productive track to manage my anxiety. Once I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression by my counsellor I decided to take charge and turn to personal development. That one decision changed my life.
When I was first put on medication I thought I’d be fixed. But, now I realise that’s not a good way to think about it. It’s more about ongoing management. I’ve been doing personal development consistently now for three years, every single day. And my anxiety is completely managed.
If I’m triggered, or if I’m doing something that makes me anxious I know exactly what I can do within seconds to keep myself managed and to stop my anxiety getting any worse or leading into a panic attack. I know what to do when it comes up, and I can nip it in the bud, and stop it before it gets out of control.
A few years ago I definitely would have said yes, my shyness is holding me back. I used to say no to stuff, like meals out and events, because I was shy. I actually did a post recently on just reflecting on how much I’ve changed and how far I’ve come because I now actually would go as far as to say I enjoy a small social occasion with close friends. I actually really enjoy that now and it’s just the larger ones really that do make me feel a little bit shy and nervous about them. That’s just the person I am. And I find myself listing quite intently in a conversation rather than talking all the time or just sitting back and not always get an involved. But I don’t particularly see that as a bad thing as such.
I’m less shy in a work context, because shyness is closely linked to confidence and I have a lot of confidence in my work abilities. Like today for example, it’s about my tenth podcast. I’m not particularly shy or nervous or anything about recording this, but my first one I was, so I think that’s just a confidence thing and the more I do it, the less shy I feel.
I’ve definitely had a huge shift in the way that I see myself, the way I feel about myself and all of that in regards to self love, confidence, self-belief and all those sorts of areas.
I do personal development every single morning without fail. And I believe that keeps me feeling really good, keeps me able to go out, keeps me able to not be shy and in all of those sorts of things. Because if I didn’t do that, I have no doubt I would probably slip back into those old habits of being triggered easily and feeling shy and uncomfortable.
I start the day with journaling. I use a really nice journal called the Five Minute Journal, which gets you thinking about gratitude and what can go well that day and just really positive things like that to get you in a more positive frame of mind. A few years back, I used to wake up that anxiety and dread, so now, it’s really nice to wake up with gratitude and positivity about the day.
I enjoy exercising so I occasionally to do yoga or something like that, especially at the moment because I am trying to strengthen my muscles. I also do things like meditation, visualization, hypnosis. I’m quite flexible about it now. I did used to have a really rigid and structured routine, but now I’m so a more free flow. I pick what I want to do that day, to get me feeling positive and full of confident, and ready for the day ahead.
In terms of time, just do whatever you can. If you only have ten minutes, do that! Just pick one habit that you really enjoy, that makes you feel really good and just do that.
By realising my purpose in life and turning my attention to supporting others on the same journey as me, I’ve been able to face my fears. I now enjoy things that I would have found impossible before!”