Have you ever been in a situation that brought on sweats, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath? Nope, that’s not a heart attack, but most likely an anxiety attack. If you suffer from anxiety disorders, learning to manage it is the first step to overcoming it.
Anxiety is characterized as extreme reactions to fearful situations. When someone follows you into a dark alley, those anxious feelings of a racing heartbeat and sweaty palms gives way to heightened senses and a rush of adrenalin that can save your life. This is the fight or flight syndrome.
In the case of frequent anxiety, the fearful feelings are dread of a particular situation and not the situation itself. Getting caught in traffic can cause an anxiety attack over what might happen when you get to work late. Starting a new job can bring on anxiety attacks. You don’t know anyone and fear of that unknown can send you into a panic.
Everyone experiences panic or anxiety in one form or another. I have had anxiety my entire life. Thankfully I have learned to overcome it and you can also. We can all get panicky, but when the outcome we fear fails to materialize, the anxiety stops. For someone with chronic anxiety, this is not the case.
Unfortunately unchecked anxiety of this type can lead to depression. Nobody wants that. Now is the time to take back control of your life! Or if you know someone that is suffering, now is the time to help them. It is very real and very scary.
If you suffer from anxiety attacks on occasion or a more frequent anxiety disorder, there are steps you can take to keep your anxiety under control.
1. See a professional- This is always a great first step. It’s totally OK! Self-diagnosis of any type of physical or mental condition isn’t always a good decision and can be dangerous. A professional psychologist can help you understand your anxiety and figure out the best treatment for your body.
2. Get a good night’s sleep- Ha! Probably not if you’re a parent, but here’s to a good run at it. During the sleep cycle, your body repairs itself. You feel more rested after several hours of restorative sleep, reaching the REM stage. Most people need eight hours a night which varies within an hour or two each way.
3. Exercise on a consistent basis- I know, I know… I rolled my eyes too. Here’s why: Exercise helps you to use oxygen more efficiently. It helps to get more oxygen to the brain. It also increases focus which may help you see solutions to problems rather than simply worrying about them. See! It’s totally worth a shot. It’s also a great idea to find a workout buddy. It will make your workout so much easier and it will give you someone to talk to.
4. Meditate- Meditation is more than chanting mantras. Simple mediation such as taking 5 minutes to clear your mind everyday can work wonders in the fight against anxiety. When you feel an attack coming on, stop and take 5. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and remember all of the reasons your are blessed.
5. Manage the worry- When you feel your pulse start to quicken, count backwards from ten. As you count, focus on the situation. What has actually happened? Resist the urge to read anything more into the situation and decide if it really is worth getting so anxious over. This one has taken me some time to learn. I instantly get upset about something before taking the time to analyze things. Just take it one day at a time.
6. Don’t use alcohol- Way to be a party pooper! You might think that the glass of wine is relaxing your tension (guilty), but alcohol is a depressant. In anxious situations you could rely too heavily on it and gain another problem in the process. Nobody wants that. Put that wine glass down and go for a run!
7. Find some relaxing activities- Stress can rob you of your energy. On a regular basis, do something you like or start a new hobby such as gardening, painting, reading or listening to music. Dance like nobody is watching. Do whatever you have to do to shake off those jitters.
8. PRAY! Let go and give it to God! Even if you aren’t religious, why not give it a shot? You will have nothing to lose, but everything to gain!
Anxiety can come into your life at any time. It’s normal. When the anxiety becomes frequent you could be at risk for more serious conditions. If you feel your anxiety is starting to take over your life or increasingly causing you problems, please seek help. There is no need to suffer this terrible condition in silence.
Q: What did the shy pebble say?
A: I wish I was a little boulder