What I Learned About Anxiety At She Talks Asia's Mental Health Conference: #IMatter

'We are unconditionally valuable.'
PHOTO: istockphoto

Everybody feels anxious from time to time. Being worried or afraid is normal, though still unpleasant. So when you experience anxiety, especially intense anxiety, how do you manage it? And when is it time to reach out and ask for help? 

These are questions that were answered at She Talks Asia's mental health conference, "I Matter," which was held on October 12, 2019. One of my favorite discussions at the conference focused on anxiety; the panel was moderated by actress Belle Daza, who's been vocal about the importance of mental health.

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Celebrities Kylie Verzosa and Claudia Barretto opened up about their experiences with anxiety. Kylie shared that she's experienced social anxiety, with symptoms like, "cold sweats, negative thoughts, trouble breathing, and panic attacks."

In her path to healing, Kylie went with a more holistic route: "I did it by changing my lifestyle, getting enough exercise, choosing my friends wisely, having positive social connections, checking how I'm living my life. Am I getting enough sleep? How are my eating habits?"

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Claudia, who spoke about her condition for the first time, said, "When I do things that seem like really easy tasks for everyone else, I find myself never living in the present moment. I always think about the future or what I've done in the past. I was just trying to get things done, I was just trying to tick things off my to-do list. That was really exhausting for me."

"When I started to write down my feelings and my thoughts, it became tangible. It became something that I owned."

She tried doing things that she *thought* would make her happy: "But at the end of the day, I felt unfulfilled. I didn't understand why everything I was doing right wasn't helping me, and I still felt so unhappy." One of the things that helps her get through the day now is journaling. She told the crowd, "I started writing down my thoughts because another thing that gave me so much anxiety was trying to compartmentalize my thoughts. It's such an exhausting thing to do when you feel like you can't touch it. So when I started to write down my feelings and my thoughts, it became tangible. It became something that I owned."

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Experts Dr. Sylvia Claudio, Dean of the College of Social Work and Community Development at UP, and Sheila Tan, a licensed Meta-Coach and NLP Practitioner, were also part of the panel. Dr. Claudio stressed the importance of self-awareness, and knowing when the anxiety you're experiencing isn't the common type anymore: "It really gets in the way of your happiness."

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"We are unconditionally valuable, period—whatever my past is, whatever my skills are."

Tan explained, "What society has led us to believe is, 'I need to achieve something to be worth something.' And that's the first thing we need to change. We are unconditionally valuable, period—whatever my past is, whatever my skills are."

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