I wouldn’t say I’m a homebody, but for some reason being far away from my house for an extended period of time makes me nervous. Maybe that does qualify me as a homebody. I’m not entirely sure.

Oh and by the way, when I say ‘extended period of time’ I mean anything over eight hours. My mind starts working overtime and I often get a tension headache because I’m so tense in my unfamiliar surroundings. I prepare for these scenarios the only way I know how; by calling on my extensive toolkit to help me in my time of need.

If you have anxiety then I reckon you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t, then let me fill you in on some of the strange habits I’ve developed to cope with my anxiety disorder.

The Mary Poppins bag

To ensure I have everything for any possible scenario my handbag is always full. I carry painkillers (paracetamol and ibuprofen), anxiety medication, something to read (more on that later), pens, lip balm and snacks. Always with the snacks. For long days I’ll have my breakfast, lunch and a Clif Bar on hand to make sure I don’t get hungry and have a low blood sugar freak out, which is unfortunately standard behaviour for me. I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry.

Being early is essential

On the rare occasion when I haven’t been able to pre-book a train ticket I’ll make sure to arrive in plenty of time. If I can be at the train station 45 minutes – an hour is better – before the train is due to depart then I’m happy. To be honest, I normally spend that time buying more snacks and painkillers to add to my emergency handbag stash so it’s time well spent if you ask me.

I’m generally the first to arrive at a party, assuming that the start time on the invitation is non-negotiable. I actually enjoy the calmness of an empty room before all the awkward chat begins with people I’ve never met. It also means I can find the seat nearest the door to ensure a speedy exit.

If I’m meeting friends in a pub and I’m arriving alone then it’s tricky. I want to be early but I don’t want to have to enter the pub alone, so I often find myself wandering around aimlessly peering into shop windows long after they’ve closed for the day. Anything to avoid sitting at the bar alone for 40 minutes before the rest of the gang make an appearance.

I use my book as protection

I do love reading, but not quite as much as I love being alone. I don’t enjoy talking to strangers, so having a book to use as a shield when someone tries to start up a conversation is perfect. I can just cover my face and ignore the shit out of them.

I can also highly recommend the book technique as a great way to send the ‘NOT TODAY’ signal when you’re in the break room at work.

There’s nothing wrong with hiding in the toilet

This might sound like a desperate last resort but it’s actually become quite common for me, and it’s really just my way of finding a safe space when I’m feeling anxious in a social situation.

If I feel emotional I generally just have a little cry in the nearest bathroom and take a few moments to gather my thoughts. I’m making it sound sad but it’s really a good thing, I promise. It’s a private spot to for me take a few deep breaths and call hubby for a chat if needed.

I book ahead

If I can pay for something in advance then you can bet I’ll do it. Why risk turning up unannounced when you can secure your place ahead of time? I have been known to book train tickets six weeks in advance just to feel slightly more at ease as the journey approaches.

I’m also keen on booking gym classes, networking events and tables in a bar if I’m meeting more than one other person. Having to make a group decision about what do to when you can’t find enough seats is not worth thinking about.

I’m glad I got that off my chest. Do you have any little habits that help ease your anxiety?