How to Deal with Your Anxiety
Everyone experiences anxiety, but 2.7% have a panic disorder. I have said in a couple other blogs that I have an anxiety disorder, and I am no doctor, but for me, the difference is how it affects your ability to meet your basic needs. If you have extreme anxiety that keeps you from going out and getting food, that's something serious. If you have a panic attack that affects your ability to go to your job, that's something serious, too. Mine is definitely so much better than it was back in my teenage years because… teenagers… but it still flares up all the time. I just recently started taking an active look at my anxiety, what the repercussions are in other parts of my life, and creating a plan for what to do when an anxiety attack happens.
1. Track it.
I have started tracking a bunch of things about my life. My anxiety, my stress (completely different for me, one is uncontrollable fear, and the other is having a lot to do in a short amount of time), hydration, weather, health, exercise, skin, period, etc. I am looking for correlations like if I drink more water my skin will be clearer, or if I have my period, I have worse anxiety. Knowing these things will help you be more mindful of what is going on, and also how to prepare for the ramifications. Like if you have a bad anxiety day, 3 days later your face will break out. I'll probably have enough data for that after about a year though...
2. Realize it.
Mindfully tracking it is the first step to actually realizing it's happening. Meditating, thinking, and reflecting on your emotional and mental health can really help you realize when it is happening in the moment. For me, it is harder to realize anxiety when it is happening for a reason, which sounds ridiculous, but for example, when I was getting dental work done recently and waiting for the novocaine, I knew I was having anxiety about it, but I was just focused on getting through the experience. If I have a random anxiety flare up, I end up thinking to myself, what is going on? Why is this happening?
Figuring out why it is happening can also help a lot. maybe you are more anxious when it rains. Even further than that, you can put your current anxiety in perspective. For example, I can think back to my other super anxious moments and say to myself I went through that past experience and I handled it, this time is nothing compared to that. Find the source and put it in perspective.
4. Play games.
Find a game on your phone that is super calming. I have one where you have to put colors in the right order. Try not to play it unless you are having anxiety. Train your brain to focus on that and calm down while you are taking a couple minutes to play.
5. Watch videos.
There are also a lot of super awesome youtube videos that will help you work through a panic attack. Find one that you really like and know how to get to it quickly when you need it.
6. Talk to a friend/family member.
If one of your family members or friends is really good at calming you down or deals with panic attacks themselves, go to them in a time of need and ask them for help. They should know just what to say to make the problem feel smaller and calm you back down again.
7. Do something you like to do.
Distract yourself with something you love, like going on social media, going for a walk, hugging your dog, etc. But first, you have to have a really clear idea about what makes you calm and happy. Not all the activities you love to do make you calm.
8. Find a safe place.
Also, know where your safe place is. If you are traveling and don’t have one, maybe it’s a person, a thing, or an app on your phone. Basically, we want to build up our toolbox of things we can use when we start feeling anxious so it doesn’t keep spiraling out of control.
9. Give yourself a reminder.
What makes you feel confident? You are really good at sports, or video games, or baking. Remind yourself of those amazing things you love about yourself when you start to spiral. You are incredible and amazing, and it is hard to remember that, but it is also true.
10. Treat the symptoms.
Treat the physical symptoms. If you hold it in your shoulders, work on bringing them down and relaxing them, if you get headaches, take a minute and separate yourself from your screens, if your heart is racing, and you feel sick, know for a fact it is in your head. You have control over those feelings. The mind is extremely powerful. Practice convincing yourself that there is another reason that you are feeling this way. For example, if your heart is racing, it also races when you are extremely happy or excited. What makes you feel that way? Put that in your mind, and convince your body that it is not a negative, but a positive reason for feeling that way.
Simple enough? Ya, not really, I know. If you are really struggling, go and see a therapist. They are trained to help you with this. Even if you think you have it pretty well handled, go and see one anyways. Who doesn’t love having an hour dedicated to just talking about themselves! It’s a total win for anyone.
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