How I Deal With Anxiety
How to Deal With Anxiety
Here I will discuss and share my experience of and anxiety, anxiety triggers and panic attacks and how I deal with the disorder. I will also share my process for dealing with anxiety, and show how to put into action that process that works and really helps to make me feel better.
What Types of Anxiety Disorders Are There?
There are many types of anxiety disorders and I do not have space here to discuss each. Here are a few common ones:
- Specific phobias
- Panic disorder
- Social phobia
- Acute stress disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
With GAD we tend to worry about many different things rather than one specific issue. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder that can cause unwanted thoughts, obsessions and the compulsion to take certain actions repeatedly.
Personal Experience With Anxiety
I share my journey with anxiety and the techniques I found along the way that really help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. I hope you find relief and comfort in trying the processes I share.
From a very young age, I felt anxious. I am the survivor of childhood abuse and learnt very early on that I needed to survive the abuse I endured. I was always on alert and ready to run to save myself from abuse or the threat of it.
As an adult, I continued feeling anxious and I made many mistakes and choices in life as a result of my anxiety. I was stuck in a rut for many years as I hung on to my comfort zone which was my home. For years I rarely left my home unless I absolutely had to. I lost a lot of friends as anxiety controlled all aspects of my life. I lived like a recluse, never accepting invites to social events or refusing to do anything outside my comfort zone, avoiding life so that I could protect myself from the triggers of anxiety. My comfort zone and the anxiety that kept me there eventually felt like I was imprisoned in an invisible prison of my own making. I felt powerless to be able to escape and change my life for the better because I feared the symptoms of anxiety. I felt trapped.
I spent many years experiencing excessive thinking, intrusive thoughts and worrying about everything. I was full of self-doubt and was afraid to just relax and be myself because I was afraid of what others thought of me. I was self-loathing and constantly berating myself and telling myself I was not good enough or I was stupid like my abusive mother used to tell me.
All these negative and fearful thoughts were the fuel that kept the anxiety going. Anxiety is what we feel when we are thinking in ways that create fear in us.
Anxiety triggers can be things, people, sounds, smells, memories or thoughts. Anyone experiencing anxiety does tend to have triggers but are not sure or not aware of what those triggers are.
Many people find they have multiple triggers. But for some people, anxiety attacks can be triggered for seemingly no reason at all. I never knew what was triggering my anxiety as everything about life felt like a trigger. I was unaware that my worried way of thinking and worrying about my health, my family's health, money and lots of other issues were in fact bringing me more to worry and feel anxious about.
My life was about avoiding everyone and avoiding new experiences and possible triggers to my anxiety. I did not have the confidence to go for good jobs or nice relationships as I worried constantly that 'I was stupid', 'I was not good enough or clever enough'. I was afraid of rejection and so I avoided people to avoid the rejection that I feared.
Symptoms of Anxiety and Panic Attacks
I experienced physical symptoms of anxiety which was a feeling like a tight band was around my throat strangling me, tense uncomfortable stomach, shallow breathing, breathlessness, sweating, nausea, a pounding heart and an inability to walk straight because my heart would pound so strongly.
Quite often my anxiety would escalate into a panic attack. Panic attacks would get so bad that I would blank out emotionally or go into a blind panic and then I would be at risk of getting hurt. On a busy main street, I had a blind panic and turned to run away, straight into the path of an oncoming car.
I had no understanding of my anxiety, what had caused it or what was the driving force behind it. I trusted the doctor when he told me I had a mental illness that needed treatment.
For some, medication does work to calm the sufferer but does not help understand the anxiety or why we experience it. I had been anxious all my life and tried every treatment on the market but nothing seemed to help me in the long run of things.
Symtoms Of Anxiety
Symptoms of anxiety can be physical or psychological and can include,
- Tense muscles
- Churning of the stomach
- Tight-band feeling around the throat
- Having to visit the toilet more often
- An increased heart rate and rapid breathing, which can lead to faintness (hyperventilation)
- Pins and needles
- Nausea (feeling sick)
- Feeling tense or nervous
- Feeling powerless
- A sense of impending danger, panic or doom, fearing the worst
- Mind racing with negative thoughts
- Dwelling on negative experiences (ruminating)
- Imagining people judging us
- Not able to focus or concentrate
- Feeling restless
- Insomnia (sleep disturbances)
How Is Anxiety Treated?
There are many treatments available to help with anxiety disorders. Psychological treatments, such as relaxation training, biofeedback, supportive counselling or couples or family therapy are excellent ways of helping us become aware of our worried way of thinking and why we do it.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help to identify and to stop negative cycles of thinking by breaking down things that make you feel uncomfortable, bad, anxious or scared. By talking through your fears you can make your problems more manageable, CBT can help you change your negative thought patterns and improve the way you feel.
Whilst medication can be a great help with the symptoms of anxiety, they did not help me in the long run. I have tried using medication, and it did help for a short time but medication is not the answer. I knew I needed to get to the root of my anxiety in order for it to stop controlling my life and life choices. I knew I had to find a more natural way of dealing with anxiety without drugs and that meant taking control of my worried way of thinking.
Relax And Breathe Exercise
- Sit quietly and comfortably in a place where you are not going to be disturbed for a few minutes.
- When you feel comfortable, take a deep breath through your nose and hold for a few seconds before exhaling through your mouth.
- Take another deep breath, feel your stomach expand, hold for a few seconds and then exhale.
- On the next intake of breath notice and feel the rise and fall of your stomach as you breathe in and out.
- Carry on focusing on your breathing in and out for a few seconds to take your mind away from what you were worrying or panicking about.
Let Go of the Anxious Thoughts
If it is possible, write your answer to the questions that will follow on paper or in a journal. I like to keep a journal with the date I am writing about because I like to see how much I have progressed from the time I was so anxious I could not leave my own home, or, I was too scared to write for Hubpages. Or, you could write your answers and then destroy the paper if you fear someone finding and reading your innermost thoughts and feelings.
Ask yourself the following questions. Write your response. I will share some of my answers as examples.
- What makes me anxious about the situation?
- How do I know I feel anxious?
- How does that anxiety feel physically within my body?
- What is the anxiety protecting me from?
After noticing where you feel anxiety within the body, keep focusing on the feeling of it for a few seconds. Recognise the feeling of anxiety and understand that anxiety is the result of worried thinking and can be controlled when we know how to do so. Also, be aware that no one has said anything to you to make you feel anxious. You created feelings of anxiety through thinking fearful thoughts.
Now shift your focus and imagine a situation where you feel good about yourself and about life. Write a few words to describe this situation whether it be a real or imagined. Keep on imagining an event that made you smile and made you feel good.
The event can be something from the past or purely imaginary as long as it makes you feel good inside. The purpose of doing this is to change the focus of our thoughts to change the resulting feelings and calm the mind.
Answer the following questions in your journal or notepad.
- How do I want to feel?
- What would I be doing to feel happy the way I want to feel?
- How would my perfect day look?
If you were having the perfect day, what would you be doing? Would you be laid on a beach somewhere warm and exotic or somewhere else doing something that brings you pleasure? Imagine it as if it were a real situation and until you can feel the good feelings you would feel if your imagination was real.
When I am anxious I ask myself the following questions.
- How do I feel now?
- How do I feel what I feel in my body?
- Do I know for definite that what I am worrying about really will/will not happen?
Here's my response:
I am scared of making an idiot of myself. I am afraid that others will not like me or they will laugh at me and think me stupid. I fear being rejected and I can hear my own thoughts going around in my head,'They will think I am stupid', or, 'I am stupid'.
My heart is racing and my mind is running at top speed. I feel stressed and want to run away. I feel trapped. I feel like I have a tight band around my neck and it's choking me. My stomach is in knots and I feel really tense and breathless.
My anxiety is protecting me from getting into a situation where I could get rejected.
How do I want to feel?
I want to feel relaxed and at ease in my surroundings. I want to live in the perfect environment for me, I want to surrounded by loving and supportive friends. I want to be living in a warmer climate where the sun shines all the time.
Then I would spend time on imagining my perfect environment until I could actually feel the feelings I would feel if I was living the ideal life for me. I speak to my anxiety and thank the negative belief that fuels the anxiety for protecting me. I give myself a positive belief, in the form of an affirmation to be repeated over and over to replace limiting belief causing my anxiety.
Learn To Fully Relax
Relaxation techniques are a must for those who suffer from anxiety. I use YouTube relaxation or meditation videos because they are free and really do help.
I hope you have found a way to manage your anxiety through reading this article. Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.