How I Handle Anxiety

Image

Found this on Facebook earlier. I think it really hits the nail on the head as far as anxiety and anxiety attacks go. 

I can usually feel mine coming a mile away. I become very aware of my own heartbeat and blood pressure. They happen a lot during hangovers or when I haven’t had much to eat. They also occur if I’m dehydrated, over-caffeinated, over-stimulated, and in close quarters. I’ve had a couple on the 6 train. Those were not fun. 

The first thing that happens is I realize I’m on the verge of a panic attack. Having had more than I can count, I’m no stranger to the symptoms. My pulse changes. Either my heart rate increases or my heart beats so hard it feels like it’s in my throat. Then I begin sweating. The sweating makes me itchy and the itchiness makes me start tapping my foot or digging my nails into my stomach fat. Usually if my heart is in my throat I put my hand near my chest, like on a necklace or something, instead of my stomach. While all of this is happening, adrenaline starts pumping through me and I begin to feel like I need to get out of wherever I am. And, as many of you know, things just escalate from there.

I’ve gotten my panic attacks almost completely under control (with the hangover exception; I can’t control those very well) and I’d like to share some of my tips. They probably won’t work for everyone, but who knows?

One thing I do is reach for my phone. I have a slew of mind numbing games on it that require little to no thought but still keep me engaged. I don’t recommend high stress games, like Diner Dash or the traffic control games. But maybe Farmville or Candy Crush. I also downloaded a logic puzzle that seems to help. And word games are great too, especially the ones where you have to form words out of other words.

I’ve been told breathing exercises help, but they don’t help me. They only make me more aware of my heartbeat which makes things even worse. However, I mentally chant my little mantra I described in the post about Hypnosis which helps me regain some mental control over my own body and fight back instead of being a victim to my own adrenaline.

A not so healthy method of mine is eating. Usually something hot, like soup of  Chef Boyardee. He’s my favorite chef and reminds me of high school, a time when bills weren’t suffocating me.

If you have headphones handy, listening to some soothing music might help. Not necessarily soothing, but something that soothes you. I always put my Pandora on Janis Joplin radio, but if any Pink Floyd comes on I skip it because their music over-stimulates me. 

And if all else fails I call someone. It doesn’t matter who. Usually someone I trust, like a friend or my mother or sister. I never tell them that I’m having a panic attack because, as the image above shows, some advice just isn’t helpful. I just chat, rabidly asking about their day and their plans for the week. I soak up the information and it calms me down because they are calm as well.

Anyway, those are just some of the things I do to avoid or ease a panic attack. The best way for me to avoid them, however, is to stay away from behaviors that cause them like smoking, drinking, eating excessive sugar, or in my case watching anything remotely scary.

If anyone wants to add anything in the comments, feel free!!!

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3 responses to “How I Handle Anxiety

  1. I can completely relate to that cartoon! Music really calms me down. And I’ve never been good at breathing exercises. They make my anxiety worse!

    • Right? Just hearing how ragged your breathing gets scares the crap out of you! I usually put on my headphones to avoid listening to my breath. Haha.

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