Headache, stress and woman in studio with anxiety, temple massage and pain on mockup background. Burnout, brain fog and girl suffering migraine, vertigo or dizzy, fatigue or frustrated by problem⁠

Mental Health Awareness Week: Balancing anxiety & sex work

How often do you feel nervous? Is it something you feel from time to time, or do you experience anxiety every day?

As it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re shifting our focus to sex work and anxiety. From looking at what anxiety actually means to pinpoint common situations that make sex workers feel anxious, our mission is to raise awareness and open up the conversation about mental health among sex workers.

Scroll down to learn how sex work and anxiety intersect.

About Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week happens every May from the 13th to the 19th. This special week was created to raise awareness for mental health issues and to remove the stigma around speaking out about your mental health.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is defined as a feeling of unease (e.g., worry or fear). This feeling can be mild or severe enough to affect your day-to-day life.

Everyone will experience anxiety at some point in their lives. However, sometimes people find it hard to control their worries, and anxiety becomes a symptom of a larger condition.

Within the mental health spaces, anxiety as a condition is referred to as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). This makes you feel anxious in general rather than worried about one specific event.

Those with GAD tend to feel anxious more than relaxed, and they will feel anxious even if the event they are worrying about is very unlikely or illogical.

Physical symptoms of anxiety

Though anxiety is a mental health condition, it can present physical symptoms. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling restless

cropped shot of a woman sitting and picking her hands anxiety concept

What can cause anxiety for a sex worker?

Sex workers face different challenges to other careers. Here are some situations and factors that may lead to anxiety for sex workers:

Hustle culture and anxiety

In many careers, appearing busy is almost a status symbol. Telling others you’re fully booked or overloaded by clients shows you’re a successful sex worker. However, rather than showing your skills, this culture actually leads to burnout and higher levels of anxiety.

If you find yourself pushing your boundaries and taking on more work, take a step back and monitor your anxiety levels. Overbooking and overworking yourself will only lead your mental and physical health to a bad place.

Of course, you should make financially responsible decisions and prioritise making enough money. However, if you can take a step back to give yourself a break and indulge in self-care, you should.

Anxiety about seeing clients

Another way anxiety can manifest for sex workers is nervousness before seeing clients. This goes for new and experienced sex workers. Even if you have years under your belt, anxiety can still cause mental and physical symptoms before a session.

When meeting and screening clients, listening to your gut reaction and looking for clues that the client may not be worth the effort is essential. However, when you have anxiety, you might feel nervous for all clients.

To reduce your anxiety before client meetings, check in to see how you feel. Some breath work or mindfulness exercises can do wonders for this. You may also want to build some physical exercise into your daily routine, as this is also powerful for reducing anxiety.

However, if you find that none of the usual anti-anxiety tips and tricks do anything to calm your mind, it might be a sign that you need to talk with a medical professional or simply that the career isn’t a fit for you.

Fears of people you know finding your content

Sex workers and escorts might experience anxiousness about people they know in real life finding their content. Whether your escorting profile or Only Fans page, this is a common fear and one you can take practical steps against.

For example, you can use a fake name or alias for your work. You can also keep your personal details a secret, even with clients you’ve been seeing for years. Investing in a secure webcam and extra data security measures is also a good idea to keep yourself protected.

While rare, unfortunately, people you know might find your profile, and there is a small possibility of your content being leaked. The more we raise awareness about sex work and normalise the career, the more accepting people will be.

Worries about making enough money

Any self-employed person will tell you they worry about making enough money for the month. And this is no different for sex workers.

It’s critical to acknowledge that quiet seasons come and go. You should also take control of your financial situation with money-saving tips for a secure financial future. The earlier you start investing in your finances, the easier it will be to ride through slow months where clients seem to be on a different planet.

How to deal with anxiety as a sex worker

Overcoming anxiety in an instant isn’t easy. But there are some practice strategies you can take to lessen the overwhelming emotions. These include:

These may not all work for you. However, trying out different strategies is critical until you find one that fits.

Pensive girl with eating disorder think of chocolates⁠

When to see a medical professional

Many sex workers will feel nervous around the situations above at least once or twice in their careers. However, if your anxieties are going beyond one event, causing distress, or affecting your daily life, it might be time to work with a medical professional.

When you see a medical professional or GP for anxiety, they will ask you questions about your worries, assess your symptoms, and potentially refer you to a specialist for further treatment.

The takeaway

Part of speaking out about mental health is creating a more positive future for sex workers. The more we talk about anxiety and share resources, the more we can prioritise health and ensure a community focused on well-being. Forward this page to a friend to spread the word.

Learn more about sex work and day-to-day life today via the Vivastreet blog.

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