10 Tips for Preparing for a Blogger Conference With Anxiety

For many people social events are something to look forward to but they are also something which bring about worry. These people aren’t rare, there are many of us who experience panic in busy locations, stressful situations and many other reasons.

I suffer from anxiety.

I’ve written about my anxiety quite a few times here, sharing the dark place I end up at if/when a panic attack occurs. I’ve also shared some Tips to Stop an Anxiety Attack hoping it could help someone else. For people like myself the easiest thing to do would be to avoid anything that could bring on anxiety. It would be easier to just stay home, safe in my little cocoon and not face the worry.Sober

I’ve had periods where I couldn’t leave the house, where the threat of anxiety was enough to immobilize me but these days I refuse to stay huddled in fear like that. I force myself to leave my house as often as possible, even if it’s just to walk up the road. At least once a year I attend blogger conferences which are a true feat for me.

This week I’m attending a blogger conference, this means that I’ll be staying in the city (a very busy place) for 2 nights, I’ll be surrounded by people, meeting and greeting and even speaking on a panel. As I’ve told people in my life about this, they’re often shocked. They know how uncomfortable situations like these can make me and can’t understand how I do it.

It’s simple really, I had a GREAT psychologist who taught me how to handle things like this in my life. As long as it’s not a regular thing I know that I can enjoy myself….but also realize that I won’t be experiencing the conference fully as others will because my limitations won’t allow me to.

These days I prepare for events, and by this I mean that I prepare my experience based upon the terms which my health actually allows.

Ten Tips For People With Anxiety Attending an Event

  1. Support – I have a fabulous support system at the conference. I’m fortunate enough to have people who will attend events with me and be my shoulder in situations in case I need them.
  2. Location – The hotel where I will stay is close to the conference which means that I can leave to have a rest when necessary through the day. I do plan my day around my exhaustion which generally hits after a short time of concentrating.
  3. Transportation – By arranging my rides before the conference, I remove the stress. I’ve arranged a ride into Toronto with someone I trust as a driver, I’ve also arranged rides to and from events during the conference weekend.
  4. Communication – I’ve learned how to say no. I have accepted that I cannot attend each and every festivity I want to and people really don’t mind when I say no thank you. I also know how to communicate to my support team how I’m feeling in case I need help.
  5. Medication – Being up to date with my meds is key, if my pain levels rise too quickly it will have an overall negative effect.
  6. Exit Plan – Whether it’s at the conference, an evening event or anywhere else I always have an exit strategy. I have rides secured at the other end of a phone and there are no recriminations if I do leave.
  7. Quiet Locations – At each function I find quiet spots to regroup. These might be a ladies room, a hallway, a closet…..wherever I can just BREATHE in private.
  8. Acceptance – By accepting I have this limitation doesn’t mean I expect it to happen. It does however empower me, by getting to know my body I can often predict when I need to leave and call it a day.
  9. Recovery – Events like these have an effect upon me, my energy will need to be restored over the days following so I try not to schedule anything in.
  10. FUN – I go in with a good attitude, looking forward to connecting with others and having a great time……

I know that I will have a wonderful time at ShesConnected this week, even if I am unsure how my anxiety will be. All I can do is prepare in advance and take it slow, knowing that I’ve prepared for my worst-case scenario…….

How do you prepare for big events if you experience anxiety?

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25 Responses

  1. I like that part about recovery. I recently went to my very first Blogger conference in MN. I went alone and I only started blogging in June of this year, so very much a fish out of water. I didn’t get a super warm fuzzy feeling, (maybe the title of my blog?) but I did learn some valuable stuff. I too suffer from anxiety, and can be hyper sensitive to people, so I never know if it is me or them. I know that THAT doesn’t matter. Anyway, I think I will go to others, and I’ll make sure I have some chill time after to recover. Thanks!!!

  2. Great to hear that you have a tried and true system to getting you through your anxiety. Big conferences can get overwhelming at times. Looking forward to meeting in five sleeps (but who’s counting).

    Besos, Sarah
    Zookeeper at Journeys of The Zoo

  3. I started freaking out on Thanksgiving weekend and haven’t stopped since! I sooo wish I had a travel buddy or someone to drive me in, that would take away half of the stress! I also need a week or two after a conference to recoup, it sounds silly but it takes me out of commission for days and days. I try to keep my schedule light as well for that time.

  4. Julie, I am super excited to meet you at the SCCTO conference this year! It is great that you addressed the issue of anxiety, as I know that many attendees will be travelling alone, away from home and perhaps not know anyone attending in real life. I am really looking forward to meet my online friends in person, and hope to enjoy the experience to its fullest.


  5. I am lucky enough to have my support system with me for the conference. Can’t wait to step out of the comfort zone of on line to IRL. Looking forward to meeting you!

  6. I love that you bring this issue to light. I’ve had agoraphobia for over 10 years and often have a very difficult time leaving the house. It happened suddenly at the end of college, so I’ve never had a job before. I’m glad that you talk about this because I often feel ashamed of it and alone.

    It is a little better now than it used to be, but still very hard. Please keep us updated on how everything goes!

  7. Great article. I suffer from anxiety too although it’s not as bad as it used to be. I would much rather travel with a trusted person but I don’t want to not go just because that’s not possible for me and I can handle more like I said. You mentioned planning travel arrangements ahead of time, i need to plan as much ahead of time as I can. The more I know, the more comfortable I will be. I am bringing my anxiety medication too and will remember my deep breathing. I too will be looking for quiet areas to regroup.

    BTW, I would love to pin this post to my conference tips board but since it’s a photo of you, I thought I should ask first. What do you say? Thanks.

  8. Even now a couple days before I keep coming up with excuses why I shouldn’t be going. I’ve always been a nervous-type of person, and now, since my disability it seems to overcome me at times.

  9. Thank you so much for the tips and for your openness, Julie. I’ve also struggled with anxiety and panic much of my life, but it does seem to be improving with age. I plan on having a great time, too, despite the anxiety. It’s an immense relief to realize I won’t be alone in my struggles.

    I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to coping with anxiety. For instance, I’d breathe music instead of air if I could so I plan to have some familiar favourites on an mp3 player in case I need to blow off some steam. Being anywhere in or near nature is also key for me, although I’m not sure how much opportunity for that there will be at the conference – I think I saw some nearby parks on the map? Photos of nature just might work in a pinch, too. I’m bringing my small point & shoot so maybe I’ll leave some nature shots on the memory card. Regular water, food and sleep are also musts for me. I’m a fairly tactile person and find certain fabrics very comforting so sometimes I bring a favourite shirt or my own pillow case with me when I travel. I try to make sure familiar scents are also on hand – favourite hand lotion etc. Any little thing I can do to maintain this delicate psychological ecosystem! ;)

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