Let's Talk PEA: Post Event Anxiety

Oh anxiety, you little sod. Not only is it enough for you to permanently sit on my shoulder and tell me I look like an experiment, have the IQ of a doormat, and my family are in permanent danger, you just have to shout over anything that says differently, don't you? 

Recently I had an interview where the manager shook my hand and enthusiastically said she was pleased to meet me. I stumbled over some questions, but answered them all articulately, maintained eye contact, and even made the interviewers laugh with a few ice breaking jokes. They thanked me for my time and I left with a smile, not realising that anxiety was lurking around the corner. 

The minute I stepped outside it was like I had a bully walking beside me, shouting every insult they could think of. Anxiety told how stupid I sounded, how I'd sipped my water the wrong way, how they were laughing at me, not with me. For the rest of the day I couldn't even sit still because the thoughts were so intrusive and I was filled with overwhelming nervous energy. I tossed and turned that night, going over the same nasty thoughts.

My anxiety was heightened from that situation because I was really under pressure to perform and get the job (I didn't, FYI), but even in fun situations like meeting my friends or just going for a day out, I'm always reminded that I can't escape it. It waits until I'm alone then bombards me with a barrage of abuse, telling me how ugly, stupid, and unlikable I really am, pointing out every mistake or awkward moment.
A pink circle surrounded by black dots, and white writing that read 'let's talk PEA: post event anxiety'
Clearly, the answer here is to work on building my confidence and destroying my anxiety (much easier said than done) but I know that there will be some of you out there who understand exactly what I mean and feel even more dissuaded from doing new things because you know post event anxiety will hit, so I wanted to share some advice on what we can do to tackle it from now on. 

Jump back in
After a bad experience, it's natural to be wary, but anxiety makes it into a bad experience because it wants you to itself. Apply for another job or suggest meeting your friends again next month before those nasty thoughts can creep in and put you off.

Prove it wrong
Anxiety will pick up on the tiniest things, so beat it at its own game and write down everything you enjoyed or did well as soon as you can. It might feel boastful writing 'X said I'm hilarious and would love to see me again', but if X really said that and you can see a reminder, it's a point against anxiety.

Have a distraction or reward
As I said, anxiety gets me when I'm alone and still, so for me it works best if I can distract myself with a craft project, walk, or even cleaning my room. You might prefer rewarding yourself with a bath or a bar of your favourite chocolate to look forward to after the event so you don't go from a high to a low.

Have you experienced PEA before? How do you deal with it?



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