How I Deal With Anxiety

Living in a big city like NYC, and especially since modeling, I’ve become prone to running a little on the anxious side. I like to think of myself as a calm and collected, easygoing Canadian who is down to go with the flow but oftentimes find myself getting worked up, whether it be easily justifiable or not. I’ve learned some coping mechanisms but I’m not perfect and sometimes I slip. My cuticles for instance are bitten and chewed up since I was 13 which is one way my body 'deals' with stress, sometimes without me even knowing I'm doing it. Whether it be from living in a city of constant overdrive, comparing myself to others, or dealing with unexplainable emotions, here’s how I try my best to stay sane, stay grounded, and keep on smiling.

Living in New York City I feel blessed. It’s definitely not for everyone (and definitely not permanent for me) but for now, I have anything and everything at my fingertips, no matter what time of day and am continually stimulated by the electrifying energy of the city. It has a way of sparking all the ambition and drive into my core that living in a smaller city doesn't give me at this point in my life. The streets are a continuous symphony of cars humming, horns honking, people yelling all on their path to achieving their dreams, not stopping for any slow walkers on the way. Move out of the way or get out of our city, is something that I think runs through a lot of our heads. While some can’t live like this, I truly believe New York is not for the faint of heart, it’s exactly where I need to be right now, but is definitely a temporary situation. My heart beats faster here, I walk faster here, I talk faster and get-shit-done faster, but a lot of the times I feel it’s at the expense of my health and wellness. To combat the anxiety and still thrive in the city of dreams, I find it’s important to remove myself every once in a while, if work allows it. I’m lucky enough that for modeling, I can decide which city to be based out of. I can go to Germany or Los Angeles for the month to get away, I recently did a month-long trip to L.A., which always helps calm my senses. However, come the last week of the month I will be itching to get back, to fill my veins with whatever potion New York uses on you to keep you addicted to the grind. It works. But it also really helps me to be removed from it for a while. Even if it’s something as simple as going for a hike upstate for an afternoon. That little burst of fresh air and calmness is all I need to feel rejuvenated and get back to the grind. 

A friend of mine recently said every Friday, instead of going out for drinks, her and her husband will cook dinner together, throw on some classical music and slow dance the night away. Just by themselves in their apartment. No one to tell them what to do or how they should be having fun. They’re not removing themselves from the city per say but they’re removing themselves from the idea that on weekends, we must go out and drink to relax. For them, simply enjoying their home life and a good meal and of course each other’s company is the reset they need to feel energized to get back to work each and every Monday. Find what that something is. Find an activity you like that isn’t dictated necessarily by the city you live in or the people you hang out with and enjoy it to the fullest. I challenge you do it and maybe not even post about it too. Sometimes our best memories are the ones we keep to ourselves. 

On that note, my boyfriend and I have been living together for nearly six years. We’re lucky enough to have almost the exact same living standards. But of course we get on each other’s nerves and I think what’s helped us stay so close after six and a half years together is the fact we’re able to separate for a weekend or a month, focus on ourselves and have our “me time” and then similar to when I leave New York, it’s like we’re starting the relationship from scratch each time we meet back up again. This past L.A. trip, I was home before he was back from work and while I was waiting for him I felt like a little teenage girl excited to go on a date for the first time. I was giggly and nervous and it was exactly what we needed to hit the refresh button and get our own shit done respectively. 

Beyond living in a big city, another thing that ‘gets me’, i.e. makes me a nervous wreck from time to time is the negative side effects of social media. I’m not one of those anti-social media people, for me it allows me to share the entire picture of who is Britt and what my passions and hobbies are beyond modeling. It’s my portfolio for clients to look at so they see what kind of personality they’ll get by booking me for a shoot. It’s a platform I’m privileged to have 20 thousand people listening to me to share what charities I’m passionate about or what causes I think people should learn about. It’s a privilege. But naturally it comes with a down side. I try and let the whole numbers thing not get to me and I hope all the young girls and guys who are growing up with social media (mainly my brother’s generation, ages 10-18) realize that there’s so much more to the number of followers you have or the amount of likes you get. For me, it’s exceptionally hard because I often won’t get booked because I have somewhat of a small following. I always joke, it’s quality versus quantity, but none of the clients want to hear that. While I really don’t think 100,000 potentially bought followers who are mainly creepy men will affect the sales of whatever top or lipstick your modeling, no one has really caught on/checked the analytics to see if the higher numbers are positively affecting sales. Naturally, this gets to me. I see all my friends with hundreds of thousands of followers booking all the jobs I had casted for, or didn’t even get a casting for, and generally speaking most people only post their best selves. I truly admire and appreciate the girls who show the full picture, show off their bad skin that they inevitably get every once in a while, and who use their platforms to promote good causes (check out @cameronrussell, @renee.elizabethpeters, @anja_rubik, to name a few…). This is what I try and emulate and is when I feel most positive about my Instagram use for instance. When people respond to an environmental post that they’re going to stop using plastic bags, I’m thrilled. When I look at whatever the next celebrity kid is booking or how the shoot turned out for the casting I didn’t get, I feel defeated. 

What I find helps combat the part that makes me least confident, i.e. right after and endless scroll of social media seeing all the girls with better bodies, better skin, more work, more followers, is by getting off social media and not making it the thing that dictates my moods. Instead I know it sounds cheesy but reading a good book, writing in my journal or an article like this, going for a run or workout always leaves me feeling better about myself. Not working today but all the other models are? Use that to your advantage. They’re stuck in a studio all day, you get to go for a run, stay outside and lay in the sun or cozy up on the couch with a good book. It’s all about how you use the platforms and how easily it is for you to remove yourself from in once in a while. It’s hard not to compare yourself, no matter the career you’re in but always know that no one else can be you. You are your own self, you have your own beliefs and passions and things that make you unique and that’s what’s most beautiful about life, none of us are exactly the same.  When I post a decent selfie where my skin looks good, just know that’s me 10% of the time. The rest of the time I may have a zit or two or three and I may not always share the bad sides. Think Josh and I are always that sweet smily couple who look perfectly kept together and like we've never been in a fight? Hah!! We use social media to promote our best selves, often trying to be like the next best person but sometimes we can lose what makes us most unique in the process. So, as I write this (which is also an important reminder for myself to live by), I say be you, your full authentic self, nothing more and appreciate all the unique qualities you have and celebrate that!

Probably at the expense of living in a crazy city or being in an industry dictated by social media, sometimes the moods I get in feel completely unexplainable. I’m generally a pretty happy-go-lucky person but sometimes I’ll wake up in a funk that dictates how I feel and act all day, its unexplainable and it downright sucks. Generally speaking it’s because of something deeper I’m not tapping into like being overtired from work, an unresolved fight with a boyfriend or simply needing to relax and be by myself. So, if I find I’m in an unexplainable mood I always try and find out the root cause.  If I’m tired, I’ll skip the workout that day. If I have enough energy and think a workout will help get rid of the stress, I’ll do a little pump. If I’m feeling a lack of connection simply from grinding away too long, I’ll ask a friend to hang out together whether it be working at a coffee shop or going for a drink. A lot of the friends I surround myself with are always incredibly helpful in resolving whatever mood I may be in. The closest girls and guys I hang with are the types you leave each conversation feeling like you’ve learned something. The conversations are deep and exactly what I need to take my mood off of whatever negativity I’m feeling. Or we may be that ear they needed to talk to without any judgment and simply listen. Human interaction in a city like New York seems inevitable but oftentimes were so focused on all our work and projects we forget to make time for our friends. While this ‘solution’ is a little more far-fetched, I think a lot of the moods I get in personally can be solved if I try and find the root cause of whatever hurt I’m feeling. Whether it be writing in a journal, laying low with a good movie and comfy couch, a much-needed catch up with a friend or an adrenaline pumping workout, thinking deeply about all the ways your hurting and trying to fix them are a lot more helpful for me than moping around in my sorrows. 

This may seem like an oversimplified post that only affects a small population. I have an incredible job so how is it that I can get anxious or feel down sometimes? But I truly believe it’s something we all go through, to whatever degree, and I think taking time to think about your feelings and what makes you, you are what gets me through the hardest of days. If it’s unexplainable to a surmounting degree and it truly seems unexplainable, talk to a friend or loved one. Tell them you’re in a funk, you don’t know why and you just need a good hang or talk to get over it. Nothing is not worth reaching out to someone for, so always try and be true to your feelings and if it’s not something you can get up and change yourself, don’t feel bad. It’s normal to feel overworked, overwhelmed, unexplainably anxious and while the tools I share help me for the most part, a good chat with a friend is often the best medicine. 

A Little Reminder For The New Year...

There's nothing more satisfying than being able to hit the refresh button on New Year's Day as we set new goals and look back on ones previously written, a visual marker of your past year and what you have to look forward to. 

What I like about these lists are that they help me celebrate past accomplishments and gear me up for new ones ahead. However, instead of feeling good about ourselves, there's an endless amount of pressure on what we're meant to be for the next year, oftentimes a fabrication of the mass-media on what will make us 'better' people. Things like needing to lose weight, workout more, try harder, make more money, eat healthier, and the like. Pressure that amounts up to feeling 'less than' which negatively affects our emotional and physical state.  Not a good way to start any year!

As I looked back on my resolutions from last year, I was happy to see I had certain things checked off the list. But this year, I didn't feel too bad about things I had left untouched. I gained weight, I didn't hit the 5k mark on the ODM/ODC social media, I wasn't even close to writing one blog post a week, I had become less patient than the start of the year, Instagram was still a daily ritual and money was being spent on car-ride services as if I lived in a city with dismal public transport... When I really thought about it, for what I 'missed' on accomplishing I had so many more experiences and memories that weren't even goals of mine from the previous year's resolution. And that is what we should be celebrating the most! 

As I move forth into 2018 I will now asses how integral it is that I get old goals done as I edit and add to the New Year's resolution. Let's be honest, as much weight as we all think we need to lose, when we look back on old pictures we're always stunned at how good we looked, even if we were so unhappy at the time. It's all about perception and prioritizing the important things in life. While I'd never want my health or wellness to deteriorate, I'm not going to punish myself by skipping the cake and overworking myself in the gym. I know I feel best when I get a good workout in and have a sense of balance with my meals. Weight loss, not integral. Feeling happy, healthy and confident, integral (whether I gain a few pounds or not).

Meditation was such a big goal for mine this past year and so to hold myself accountable I will write daily about my meditation experiences and how I feel before and after each practice. Meditating will inevitably help me with other things on the list as well; stress management, patience, and health and wellness to name a few. The structure I found that worked incredibly well was to organize my list by important categories in my life:

  • WORK
  • PERSONAL
  • RELATIONSHIPS
  • SIDE HUSTLE

Of course we can all afford to do better and goal setting is something I am extremely passionate about but as I continue forth with the new year, I am trying my best to not get down on myself for what gets left unachieved. Societal standards are set so high and with social media we're constantly left feeling bad about ourselves. We see first-hand what beautiful trips our friends are going on, who is skinnier, what friend got whatever promotion and we often forget about our own achievements. 

So, as we start the new year off on the right foot  remember to never stop celebrating all you have achieved, however big or small it may seem. Continue to set realistic goals for yourself on your resolution lists and don't forget about the ones you've left behind, there's always next year to get them done. Track your daily rituals with journal-writing so you can look back on things you may have forgotten. Be happy for your friends and family who are living their best lives all whilst knowing we often only share our best moments on social media. Don't compare yourself so much and always be proud of the work you do, the life you live, the health you have and the person you are. 

Some products to help you keep on track, revisit past goals and to celebrate the new... <3

Living in the NOW

It is a goal of mine each new year to become less attached to my phone and more aware of my surroundings; to live life in the moment. Yet each time as I ring in the new year, I am on my phone documenting all the festivities completely oblivious to last year’s resolutions.  

I think we can all agree that social media is dictating our lives, for better or for worse, and our generation is growing up head down, glued to the latest Instagram story or Facebook video. For many of us, myself included, our jobs depend on us being on the phone and updating constantly. If I’m posting on social media, it proves I am working and clients like to book and re-book models who appear to be a hot commodity (whether they know it’s a #tbt is up to them to figure out). I’m a huge proponent of social media and think it has made our world a lot easier to communicate. Brands can interact with customers and understand their wants and needs, friends can meet up on a whim incredibly easily, and you can connect with friends and friends of friends anywhere in the world you happen to be. It’s incredible and we are so lucky to have this as part of our lives. What I have a hard time grappling with are the negative aspects that have been brought with Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  

The thing that I’ve found difficult to come to terms with is the difference (and there is a clear difference) on the necessity of posting for work and for personal life. Documenting your life from the early days of Myspace in 2003 to live Instagram videos and Snapchat stories now, evolved at such a rapid rate that I often forget what it was like to live a life where others didn’t know what I was up to at any given moment. 

From a model in the fashion industry’s perspective, I’m 100% fine with the amount I post on Instagram. I chose to post both work and personal things because Instagram has given me a platform to show what Britt Bergmeister is like as a package. I want clients to know I’m a professional model with a down-to-earth personality who values being punctual, is a die-hard sports fan who enjoys classic rock, fantastic food, and killer workouts. What I post enables me to differentiate myself from the next brunette 5’11’’ model in NYC. This to me, along with however much any other person posts on social media is quite alright (Instagram videos and live Snapchat stories not included). 

What I’ve noticed within the past few years is the amount I scroll aimlessly through people’s stories and lives, often cross-comparing with the end result of not feeling so good about myself. Naturally, we post our absolute best selves on social media. While I try and dilute this lens and show the full story with funny posts about awful workouts I’ve had, huge pimples on my forehead or the not-so glamourous lifestyle that sometimes comes hand in hand with my job, most people, myself included, want our lives to look rosy on the outside, often a lot happier than they are at that very moment. I’ve become so removed sometimes from my own life that I’ve missed important conversations, crucial plays in basketball, or an important twist in a movie because I wasn’t even truly participating in my own life. 

The moment I told myself I would never take part in Snapchat was at a bar with my boyfriend for the Raptors/Heat game in the 2015 semi-finals. There were three guys at the bar in front of us, watching one of their friend’s Snapchat stories for over half an hour. They were out at a bar to watch a huge game, and were missing the entire thing as they watched their friend post drunk Snapchat videos. I thought it was the lamest thing I had ever seen. I never wanted to be so enthralled by someone else’s life while I was out with my own friends creating our own memories. 

Fast forward a year and I’m making my own Instagram video’s now documenting myself watching said basketball games and my reactions, posting what I’m eating for breakfast and what I think of the new blockbuster hit I’m watching. While I I try and never post while I’m out, take my phone out while I’m with friends or my boyfriend, and stay connected to the real world when it matters, I’ve succumbed to something I thought I never would and can only imagine what I’ll be doing a few months from now in the social media world. 

Even as I write this article, I’ve been fighting the desire to check Instagram. I haven’t posted anything in over 24 hours, there’s nothing I really should be checking or posting yet the urge to see who’s been looking at my feed or who is doing what on at this very moment is so intense it’s like an itch I’m dying to scratch. 

I thought if I made a public list of things I hope to accomplish for myself, it would make it more real this time and I could not only (hopefully) try to help others with similar social media obsessions, but also hold my own actions accountable and think about the promise I am going to make to my readers each time I want to take my phone out while out with friends, living life in the now. 

Personal goals to live more in the NOW

  • Stop posting pointless videos on Instagram story
  • If posted, don’t scroll through aimlessly looking at who watched said Instagram video
  • Never take phone out when with friends or at any dinners
  • Limit phone use when hanging with boyfriend
  • If the desire is there to aimlessly scroll, read an important news article instead
  • Start the morning off with two Economist articles rather than the Instagram scroll
  • Post it, and then forget about it (if you need to check likes, check once at end of day)
  • Limit social media use in general when out and about
  • Stop comparing yourself to others

With these goals in mind I know I can continue to post and enjoy my friend’s lives but limit the negative effects it has on myself. Social media is never going to end, but I can control the influence it has on my life and try and live with my head up enjoying the constant surprises life throws at us, and yes, if I’m unable to document the cute dog that just walked by me or my beautiful latte art I’m about to enjoy, it still happened and can still be a vivid memory in my mind, photo proof or not.