Will Davies 15 Jan 2021
In the 1920’s, RAF pilots originated the word ‘gremlin’ to describe mythical creatures that cause malfunctions in aircraft or other machinery. Use of the word grew during W.W.2. and Roald Dahl even worked with Disney on creating an animated film featuring gremlins sabotaging pilots and their planes for their own nefarious purposes.
But what’s all this got to do with anxiety you might ask? Well for me, the experience of having anxiety can feel a little bit like being a pilot fending off a gremlin that is playing havoc with my plane and trying to knock me off course. If you experience anxiety too, maybe this is something that you can relate to?
So, if you find yourself under attack from an anxiety gremlin, how can you combat it?
Here are three suggestions that may point you in the right direction:
Firstly, I think anxiety can often make us forget the past, specifically those times when we’ve over-come our anxiety or when things we were anxious about didn’t end up happening. At the moment when we could be drawing on these experiences, it’s as though the reset button gets hit and we feel like we’re starting from scratch. A way of combating this is to consciously remind ourselves of our achievements and past experiences of anxiety, perhaps through a diary or recounting affirmations. Don’t let the anxiety gremlin make you forget that you’ve got skills in this area and those skills can be put to good use again.
Secondly, when we experience anxiety we often start to feel that our lives have suddenly been knocked off course and that we are spiralling towards a new and often frightening future that is not of our choosing. Very little in life is pre-determined, so, to use another flight metaphor (I’m clearly craving some foreign travel right now!), try to see your anxiety as just a bit of turbulence that will pass eventually. Bring in your rational and soothing side as quickly as you can to assess the situation and calm you down. Practice controlled breathing, grounding techniques, mindfulness or meditation, whatever works best, to help you ride it out and reach your desired destination.
Finally, when experiencing anxiety, we can often feel helpless and that things are suddenly out of our control. In these instances it’s a good idea to try and wrestle back some control and often the best place to start is with ourselves. For example, scheduling a time each day to practice self-care and ensuring it happens can reap numerous benefits in terms of both our mental and physical health. Even just admitting the existence of your anxiety and seeking ways in which to address it is a way of regaining control of your life.
Here are some further suggestions of resources to help you armor up and go into battle with your anxiety gremlin:
- Self-help for anxiety: https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/anxiety.htm
- Self-care for anxiety and panic attacks: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/anxiety-and-panic-attacks/self-care-for-anxiety/
- Support for children, teenagers and young adults who are experiencing anxiety: https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/conditions/anxiety/#treating-anxiety