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← How to cope with anxiety | Olivia Remes | TEDxUHasselt


Showing Revision 15 created 10/16/2020 by lauren mcalpine .

  1. Imagine that you're getting ready
    to go to a party.
  2. You feel excited, but also nervous,
  3. and you've got this feeling
    in your stomach
  4. almost like another heartbeat.
  5. There's something holding you back,
    holding you back from getting too happy.
  6. "No, you mustn't get too happy.
  7. Better to be cautious, otherwise,
    something bad might happen."
  8. You start wondering,
    "Who should I talk to when I get there?
  9. What if no one wants to talk to me?
    What if they'll think I'm weird?"
  10. When you arrive at the party,

  11. someone comes up to you
    and starts talking with you,
  12. and as this is happening,
  13. your mind starts racing,
    your heart begins pounding,
  14. you start sweating,
  15. and it feels almost like
    you're dissociating from yourself,
  16. like it's an out-of-body experience,
    and you're just watching yourself talk.
  17. "Keep it together," you say
    to yourself, but you can't.
  18. And it's just getting worse:

  19. after a few minutes of conversation,
  20. the person
    you've been speaking to leaves,
  21. and you feel utterly defeated.
  22. This has been happening to you
    in social situations for a long time.
  23. Or imagine every time you go out,
    and you're in crowded places,
  24. you feel this panic starting to arise.
  25. When you're surrounded by lots of people,

  26. like on a bus, you start
    to feel hot, nauseous, uneasy,
  27. and to prevent this from happening,
  28. you start avoiding a lot of places
    which makes you feel lonely and isolated.
  29. You or the person
    in both of these scenarios

  30. have anxiety disorders,
  31. and what I can tell you
    is that anxiety is very common,
  32. much more than people think.
  33. Right now, one in 14 people
    around the world
  34. have an anxiety disorder,
  35. and each year, it costs
    over 42 billion dollars
  36. to treat this mental health problem.
  37. To show you the impact
    that anxiety has on someone's life,

  38. I will just mention
  39. that anxiety can lead to depression,
    school dropout, suicide.
  40. It makes it harder to focus,
    and to hold down a job,
  41. and it can lead
    to relationship breakdown.
  42. But a lot of people don't know this,
  43. that's why, a lot of times,
    people sweep anxiety under the rug
  44. as just nerves that you need
    to get over, as a weakness,
  45. but anxiety is so much more than that.
  46. A reason why so many people
    don't think it's important

  47. is that they don't know what it is.
  48. Is it your personality? Is it an illness?
    Is it a normal sensation? What is?
  49. That's why it's important
    to differentiate
  50. what is normal anxiety
    from what is an anxiety disorder.
  51. Normal anxiety is
    an emotion that we all get

  52. when we're in stressful situations.
  53. For example, let's say,
    you're out in the woods,
  54. and you come face-to-face with a bear.
  55. This will probably make you feel
    a little bit anxious,
  56. and you'll probably want
    to start running like crazy.
  57. This anxious feeling that you get is good
    because it protects you, it saves you,
  58. and it makes you
    on a hightail it out of there,
  59. although maybe it's not such a good idea
    to start running when you see a bear.
  60. I really don't think
    you can outrun a bear.
  61. Anxiety helps us meet
    our deadlines at work
  62. and deal with emergencies in life,
  63. but when this anxiety emotion
    is taken to the extreme
  64. and arises in situations
    which don't pose a real threat,
  65. then that's when you might have
    an anxiety disorder.
  66. For example, people
    with generalized anxiety disorder

  67. worry excessively and constantly
    about everything going on in their lives,
  68. and they find it very difficult
    to control this worry.
  69. They also have symptoms
    like restlessness, fear,
  70. they find it hard to fall asleep at night,
    and they can't concentrate on tasks.
  71. In spite of whatever kind of anxiety
    you might be suffering from,
  72. there is something
    that you can do to lower it.
  73. It works, and it's simpler
    than you may think.

  74. All too often, we're given
    medication for mental disorders,
  75. but it doesn't always work
    in the long run.
  76. Symptoms often come back,
    and you're back to where you started.
  77. So here's something else to consider:
  78. the way you cope or handle things
    has a direct impact
  79. on how much anxiety you're experiencing,
  80. and if you tweak the way you're coping,
    then you can lower your anxiety.
  81. In our study
    at the University of Cambridge,

  82. we showed that women living in poor areas
  83. have a higher risk for anxiety
    than women living in richer areas.
  84. These results didn't surprise us,
    but when we looked closer,
  85. we found that women living in poor areas,
  86. if they had a particular set
    of coping resources,
  87. they didn't have anxiety,
  88. while women living in poor areas
    without these coping resources
  89. had anxiety.
  90. Other studies showed

  91. that people who had faced
    extreme circumstances,
  92. who had faced adversity, been
    through wars and natural disasters,
  93. if they had coping resources,
  94. they remained healthy
    and free of mental disorders,
  95. while others, facing the same hardships
    but without coping skills
  96. went on a downward spiral
    and developed mental disorders.
  97. So what are
    some of these coping resources,

  98. and how can we use them
    to lower our anxiety?
  99. And before I dive into what they are,
  100. I'd like to point out -
    and I think this is so interesting -
  101. you can develop these coping resources
    or coping skills on your own
  102. through the things that you do;
  103. you can take charge
    of your anxiety and lower it,
  104. which I think is so empowering.
  105. Today I'll be talking about
    three coping resources,

  106. and the first one is feeling like
    you're in control of your life.
  107. People who feel like they're
    more in control of their life
  108. have better mental health.
  109. If you feel like
    you're lacking in control in life,
  110. then research shows
  111. that you should engage in experiences
    that give you greater control.
  112. I'll show you what I mean:
  113. do you sometimes find that you put off
    starting something
  114. because you just don't feel ready enough?
  115. Do you find it hard to make decisions
  116. like what to wear, what to eat
    who to date, which job to take up?
  117. Do you tend to waste a lot of time
  118. deciding what you might do
    while nothing gets done?
  119. A way to overcome indecision
    and this lack of control in life,
  120. is to do it badly.
  121. There's a quote by writer
    and poet GK Chesterton

  122. that says, "Anything worth doing
    is worth doing badly the first time."
  123. The reason why this works so well
  124. is that it speeds up your decision-making
    and catapults you straight into action,
  125. otherwise, you can spend hours
  126. deciding how you should go
    about doing something
  127. or what you should do.
  128. This can be paralyzing and can make
    you afraid to even begin.
  129. All too often, we aim for perfection,
    but never end up doing anything
  130. because the standards
    that we set for ourselves
  131. are too high, they're intimidating,
  132. which stresses us out
    so we delay starting something,
  133. or we might even abandon
    the whole thing altogether.
  134. Do it badly frees you up to take action.
  135. I mean you know how it is:
  136. so often, we want to do
    something perfectly we can't start
  137. until it's the perfect time,
    until we've got all the skills,
  138. but this can be daunting and stressful
  139. so why not just jump into it
    just do it however,
  140. without worrying if it's good or bad?
  141. This will make it that much easier
    to start something
  142. and as you're doing it badly to finish it,
  143. and when you look back,
  144. you'll realize, more often than not,
    that actually it's not that bad.
  145. A close friend of mine who has anxiety

  146. started using this motto,
    and this is what she said,
  147. "When I started using this motto,
    my life transformed.
  148. I found I could complete tasks
    in much shorter time periods than before.
  149. Do it badly gave me wings to take risks,
    to try something differently,
  150. and to have way more fun
    during the whole process.
  151. It took the anxiety out of everything
    and replaced it with excitement."
  152. So do it badly, and you can improve
    as you go along.
  153. I'd like to ask you to think about this:
  154. if you start using this motto today,
    how would your life change?
  155. The second coping strategy
    is to forgive yourself,

  156. and this is very powerful if you use it.
  157. People with anxiety think a lot about
  158. what they're doing wrong, their worries,
    and how bad they're feeling.
  159. Imagine if you had a friend
    who constantly pointed out
  160. everything you're doing wrong,
  161. and everything
    that was wrong with your life.
  162. You would probably want
  163. to get rid of this person
    right away, wouldn't you?
  164. Well, people with anxiety
    do this to themselves all day long.
  165. They're not kind to themselves.
  166. So maybe it's time to start
    being kinder with ourselves,
  167. time to start supporting ourselves,
  168. and a way to do this
    is to forgive yourself
  169. for any mistakes you think
  170. you might have made
    just a few moments ago
  171. to mistakes made in the past.
  172. If you had a panic attack
    and are embarrassed about it,

  173. forgive yourself;
  174. if you wanted to talk to someone,
  175. but couldn't muster up
    the courage to do so,
  176. don't worry about it, let it go;
  177. forgive yourself
    for anything and everything
  178. and this will give you
    greater compassion towards yourself.
  179. You can't begin to heal until you do this.
  180. And last but not least,

  181. having a purpose and meaning in life
  182. is a very important coping mechanism.
  183. Whatever we do in life,
    whatever work we produce,
  184. however much money we make,
  185. we cannot be fully happy until we know
    that someone else needs us,
  186. that someone else depends on
    our accomplishments,
  187. or on the love that we have to share.
  188. It's not that we need
  189. other people's good words
    to keep going in life,
  190. but if we don't do something
    with someone else in mind,
  191. then we're at much higher risk
    for poor mental health.
  192. The famous neurologist
    Dr. Victor Frankel said,

  193. "For people who think
    there's nothing to live for
  194. and nothing more to expect from life,
  195. the question is getting
    these people to realize
  196. that life is still expecting
    something from them."
  197. Doing something with someone else in mind
    can carry you through the toughest times.

  198. You'll know the why for your existence
  199. and will be able to bear
    almost any how; almost any how.
  200. So the question is
  201. do you do at least one thing
    with someone else in mind?
  202. This could be volunteering,

  203. or it could be sharing this knowledge
    that you gained today with other people,
  204. especially those who need it most,
  205. and these are often the people
    who don't have money for therapy,
  206. and they're usually the ones
  207. with the highest rates
    of anxiety disorders.
  208. Give it to them, share with others,
  209. because it can really improve
    your mental health.
  210. So I would like to conclude with this:

  211. another way you can do something
    with someone else in mind
  212. is finishing work that might benefit
    future generations.
  213. Even if these people will never realize
    what you've done for them,
  214. it doesn't matter,
  215. because you will know,
    and this will make you realize
  216. the uniqueness
    and importance of your life.
  217. Thank you.

  218. (Applause)