It took me years to pluck up the courage to go to a convention. After suffering from anxiety and panic attacks for so long I truly thought I would never go. The thought of not only being in a packed exhibition centre but also travelling there and back seemed too high a hurdle for me to jump over. Then last year I did it, I not only went to EGX2015 I also enjoyed my time there. This year I’m heading back to EGX with a little less fear and a lot more excitement, especially as we have press passes.
If you have anxiety and you’re heading to a convention this year, I hope you’ll find something that will help you in my tips below.
The Built Up – Preparation
In the past, I spent the build up to any kind of event worrying and looking for a way to back out. I would only ever think of the worst case scenarios. If you do the same my tip is to push out every single negative scenario you think of and replace it with a positive scenario, even if you don’t fully believe it yet. For example:
“What if I have a panic attack” – “What if I have fun”
“What if I stand in a queue for hours” – “What if I find new Animal Crossing houses to explore on StreetPass”
“What if I feel dizzy” – “What if I find a t-shirt to add to my collection”
- Start working on your sleep pattern straight away. You’ll need plenty of rest because you will get tired on the day, but trying to sort out your sleep a couple of days before will just make your grumpy. Start now.
- Practice inviting panic in when you feel it coming. This is the most powerful technique I have ever used and it has transformed my life. When you feel panic come invite it to come and get you. Tell yourself that you’re not scared (even if you are), that you know it’s “only” panic and that you have dealt with this before and you can deal with it now. Tell it to come and get you. Tease it, it’s worthless. You’re not afraid, you have things to do and the sooner it comes and goes the sooner you can get on with your day. Be brave, be ruthless, show no fear. Practice this technique from now until you never have to use it again.
- Plan your journey and a backup plan in case there are delays. Write down the times of the trains, buses, taxi numbers, the route, whatever you need.
- Cut out or cut down on the amount of caffeine you consume and take a vitamin B complex or eat more foods that are rich in vitamin B. Caffeine isn’t good for us folks that have anxiety and panic attacks, vitamin B is. If you drink energy drinks I highly recommend that you stop.
- Get everything ready the night before, including your outfit. You will have enough going on and worrying about sorting out your bag and picking the right shoes will just slow you down. Wear comfortable shoes because you will do a lot of walking around.
- Pack snacks and fluids. Anxiety and panic can set in simply because we get symptoms of hunger and dehydration. We think those symptoms are something far worse than they are or mistake them for the onset of panic. Take snacks and drinks to consume throughout the day. Avoid sugary snacks and sugary or caffeinated drinks – anxiety just loves those. Graze throughout the day and find somewhere to stop to eat lunch – take your own if you don’t want to eat in the café area.
On The Day of the Convention
- POSITIVE THINKING – This is perhaps the most important thing to remember. Your mindset is currently focused on negatives because our anxiety has set it that way. Breaking the cycle of fear is achievable by refusing to let those negative thoughts rule your thinking. Each time you notice yourself thinking something negative you have to stop and replace it with something good. Don’t let that negative thought get it’s claws in you. Fight it.
- On the morning of the convention spend your time eating a good breakfast and getting ready.
- Believe in the power of bananas. Start your day off with a banana and pack one in your bag. Bananas are nature’s beta blockers, they’re incredible. Eat one half an hour before you go if you don’t like travelling or half an hour before you arrive at the exhibition centre if you are more worried about going in. Then save one for when you feel yourself tensing up.
- No energy drinks, even if you get a free one! Have a vitamin B supplement in the morning for energy.
- If you feel anxiety or panic build up remember the invite panic in technique mentioned above. But your new skills into action. Go to the toilet or head outside and take a moment. Don’t dwell on it when it passes, think about something fun you want to do next and go do it.
- Don’t beat yourself up for wanting to leave. If you can’t stay and decide to leave then so be it. You made it there and that was fantastic!
- Take a panic attack survival kit. Lavender oil on a tissue or the sleeve of my arm, Remedy Rescue Spray, banana and a rose quartz crystal make up my panic survival kit. Yours might contain other things. I barely ever take it anywhere now, but I do take it for events and days where in the past I know I would struggle or avoid it entirely.
- Lavender oil calms you, even if you hate the smell like I do I recommend trying it because it’s good and it works.
- Remedy Rescue Spray goes on the tongue and is useful for times of stress.
- Banana’s are natural beta blockers
- Rose quartz crystal – might sound weird and too off in the clouds for you, but holding this crystal helps to ground me and remind me to stay calm and not fight the panic.
- Go with someone who knows about your anxiety and that you trust. Pick a person who will be happy to take you outside for fresh air or understand when it’s time to leave.
- Treat yourself when you get home and focus on all the achievements you made throughout the day. Then sleep, because you’re going to be exhausted!
I hope you will try some of the techniques above and enjoy your day out. I’ll be at EGX on Thursday and possibly the Saturday. If you see me, please feel free to come up, say hi and have a hug 😀
You’re strong, believe in your strength.