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Louise Pentland © Louise Pentland

How cherishing the little moments helped me overcome social anxiety

Louise Pentland found a way to put herself at ease when anxiety strikes

By: Louise Pentland
May 29, 2024
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Does everything in your life go at a nice steady pace or do you find one minute you’re binge-watching Netflix and the next, you’re trying to catch your breath from All. The. Things??

Last month I said May would be a ‘month of big projects’ and wow, it really has been! Usually when I have a busy period, I come to the end feeling worn down and drained.

This time, things are different. I’ve found a way to recognise the joy in each moment and if that’s something you struggle with, I hope my newfound trick will help.

selfie of a woman with blonde hair wearing a pink cardigan
Louise found a way to manage her social anxiety

I started the month having a small, planned, medical procedure. What would be considered minor to most, felt huge to me. I was so anxious and worked up over it, that to walk out of the facility, all ‘fixed’, on the first of May was almost euphoric.

I got in the car and said to my husband Liam, "It’s done. Now I can have a good month". I really meant that!

After a week of lovely family time with the girls (big highlight was seeing the new tour of Aladdin at MK Theatre – five stars!), it was time to head down to London for the biggest night of the showbiz year, the BAFTAs – an event which would normally send my anxiety sky high.

Attending the BAFTAs

I’ve been to a lot of glamorous events in my time, but the BAFTAs top every single one. It is wall-to-wall glitz and I knew I had to go all out. This was no time for my beloved floral midi and mum-bun! I was there representing my P&O Cruises family, so I really wanted to do them proud. It’s a privilege to go to such an event and I wanted to honour that by making sure I felt my best emotionally.

Woman in sparkling dress on the BAFTAs red carpet
Louise felt fabulous at the BAFTAs

Staying at the Sea Containers hotel the night before and having my hair and makeup professionally done the next morning elevated the whole experience. I would usually sort myself at home and head down the day of, but this time, I decided to make a whole weekend of it. I was relaxed, I was on time, I was actually – dare I say it – living in the moment! I’m finally learning to let go of dread and fear.

 INSPIRATION: 5 life coach-approved ways to feel happier - without spending a penny 

Avoiding social anxiety

Thanks to a super smooth start, I managed to evade my usual social anxiety and allowed myself to fully savour the whole event. I loved chatting to so many inspiring, creative people, I sipped delicious champagne, I was dazzled by so many stunning outfits and of course, I really liked watching the awards ceremony itself.

woman twirling in a glittering green dress
Louise felt comfortable at the BAFTAs

The thing that surprised me was how much FUN I had. I’ve been to fabulous black tie nights before and even though I can appreciate how special they are, anxiety has taken over, or I’ve fretted about saying something stupid, or I’ve been overwhelmed with imposter syndrome. Basically, I have a habit of ruining things for myself in a big way. This time though, I gave myself permission to relax and cherish it.

Overcoming anxiety

I have applied this to everything this month. I took my Dad to The RHS Chelsea Flower Show and there were a handful of times I just stopped on the spot, took in my surroundings and thought, ‘Wow, this is special. I don’t need to fret about every eventuality, I can just enjoy this. I am allowed to relax’. I probably looked a bit weird standing stock still doing that in my head but needs must! Things are still a work in progress…

Selfie of a man and woman in the sun
Louise and her dad went to the Chelsea Flower Show

This exercise is for anything you’re doing, not just red carpets or big wow shows! Even the day to day activities can benefit

 TRY THIS: 5 ways to make every day special – and feel instantly happier 

A few nights back, I was putting my youngest daughter to bed, feeling exhausted myself and willing her to settle quickly. I noticed the old negative feelings creeping up. Anxiety that she wouldn’t go to sleep, worry that I’d then have a really late night and be overtired the next day, dread of how that next day would play out and so on. I stopped. How lucky I was to have a sweet little girl to tuck into a warm, safe bed? How fortunate I am to have flexible working and, maybe not as healthy, as much caffeine as I want? I relaxed. I didn’t overthink. Try it, I promise you won’t be worse off!

mum and daughter hugging
Louise with her younger daughter, Pearl

Keeping busy

The big projects kept on rolling in May and no sooner was I back from Chelsea than I was in the studio for ‘Pentland’s Positives’ on BBC Radio Northampton. It’s a lovely monthly feature where I talk about some of the brilliant things in my home county and try to encourage people to really take joy from the place we live.

This project is so good for me because it’s forcing me to hone in on what’s wonderful about my surroundings. That in itself is growing my attitude of gratitude even more.

woman in a strawberry print dress recording a radio show
Louise is enjoying her new radio slot

On this month’s show, I talked about some of the incredible charities we have in our county. All of them are worthy but one I wanted to mention here is Baby Basics. They’re a national charity with local hubs all over the country. You might have seen HRH The Princess of Wales working with them in the past.

They aim to give every baby a safe place to sleep and to do this they put together Moses baskets stuffed to the brim with every essential a new family might need. They are in desperate need of donations or volunteers and have all the info on their social media pages – you might have a hub in your town!

 READ: Try this 1-minute hack to instantly calm down 

I’m ending the month down in Devonshire. We’ve booked a little cottage near Salcombe and even though it’s been 50% sea air, 50% rain, we’re loving it. If you’d told me five months ago that I’d be able to fully relax and remain in the moment on a family holiday, I’d have laughed.

woman and daughter smiling for a selfie
Louise and Darcy enjoying their holiday

I used to find it extremely difficult to let go and even harder not to worry something terrible would happen or expect the worst. I think actively giving myself permission to relax (no matter how silly you feel doing that in your mind) makes such a difference. If you’re like me, I really do urge you to try it.

Lastly, May marks one year until our 2025 wedding! As I type we have a meeting with the wedding planner booked in to discuss some of the usual things and some of the…. not so usual things we’d like to incorporate. I’ll give you a clue – big swords. More to come in June!

Until then, take this as your permission to relax, savour the moment and enjoy whatever you have coming up. You deserve it.

I’ll be back here in June or you can find me on most social media platforms as @LouisePentland.

Thanks for reading! xx

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