I met the lovely Claire Faccini on Instagram (Anxious Freedom) where she shares her highs and her lows as a person living with panic disorder. Her thoughtful questions and practical strategies for managing anxiety resonate with me, so I’m very excited to share her wisdom with you here on Low Stress Living.
Why did you decide to create Anxious Freedom?
I decided to create my blog one day after having a panic attack at work during one of the most challening times of my life. This was not my first panic attack – I’ve been suffering from anxiety and a panic disorder since I was a young girl. That night, I decided to start writing again. Though I received my journalism degree in 2013, I hadn’t been pursing my writing passion since going to work in the corporate world.
I write because I’m desperate to be free from the day-to-day symptoms of my mental illness. Freedom is my biggest hope and dream (and if you can’t tell, I’m completely anxious to get there!). I want to bridge the gap between wellness and mental health since the two are completely connected.
What are your top three strategies for managing anxiety?
I can answer this question with confidence – I’ve tried almost everything!
My number one strategy for managing my anxiety is to stay active – both physically and mentally. I practice yoga and exercise my mind through creative hobbies, writing, reading, and practicing gratitude. Since I began viewing my mind as a part of my body, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my anxiety.
I also try to say “No” as often as I say “Yes.” I’ve tried the extremes of either saying “No” all of the time and “Yes” all of the time – both made my anxiety worse! It’s all about finding a balance.
Also, taking medication can be extremely beneficial.
If you could change one thing about corporate culture to create safer workplaces for people who experience mental health symptoms, what would it be?
There needs to be more dialogue about mental health in the workplace. Mid-level managers could use training around speaking to their employees about mental health. If I knew my manager were prepared for the conversation, I wouldn’t be as fearful about bringing it up.
Also, those of us who experience mental health symptoms need to take ownership of what we need to thrive at work. We are the ones who can champion more open-minded and empathetic workplaces.
Any books, podcasts or other resources that you recommend?
I’m glad you asked – I am the Podcast Queen! I am way into My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. These ladies are absolutely hysterical while talking about true crime. They exhibit so much empathy and touch on important topics like suicide prevention and mental health.
If you really want to laugh, check out Anna Faris is Unqualified. Her advice has pulled me through some of my lowest moments in the past year.
I also recommend the book “You Are Free” by Rebekah Lyons. She discusses her experience with Panic Disorder and how she has healed. I felt profoundly understood by reading her words.
What do you wish more people understood about mental health?
Mental illness is real. My brain causes physical anxiety manifestations that are out of my control. Trust me, I don’t want to be fainting or shaking uncontrollably. If I didn’t have my disorder, all I would have to do is say “Claire, stop it”, but it’s just not that easy. If someone thinks it’s it’s all in my head, well, that’s just not the case.