Q. After redundancy and three months of menial work on a low wage, I’ve found a great new job in a new area. This is my third move in three years. It’s a long way away and a big step up from my last proper job. I’m two weeks from moving and am so anxious that I have trouble eating and getting through the day. This may be temporary, but I’m desperate for relief. Please help. Janine
A. Congratulations! What a lot you have achieved. It’s not surprising all this effort has left you running to catch up inside.
Perhaps try to create some distance between yourself and the feeling – anxiety is not part of you, it’s a cloud you’re passing through. Give the anxiety a shape. Is it a straitjacket, a swamp, a tornado? What colour is it? What does it smell like? This might feel like going closer to it, but you’ll also be externalising it. It’s not possible to feel curiosity and fear at the same time.
The Anxiety UK website talks of stress building up like water in a bucket. Often, what we need is a leaky bucket, where each hole is something positive, like being with friends, exercising or listening to music. There is an app available with other ideas.
My favourite anxiety guru is writer Caitlin Moran. She says experiences divide themselves into things that are amazing at the time, and things that are awful at the time, but turn into amazing anecdotes. Your story so far is impressive. Keep up the good work.