How to survive anxiety

As I said in last weeks post, I was diagnosed with social anxiety and general anxiety during my last years of high school. That’s been about 7 years now, and although it’s still a bit of up and down, I can quite confidently say that I’ve somewhat figured out how to best deal with it.

 

How to survive anxiety

 

From one anxiety-sufferer to another: here’s some tips that can help you deal with (and even survive!) anxiety! First off: what exactly is anxiety?

 

What is anxiety

According to thefreedictionary.com, anxiety is “A state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation, often impairing physical and psychological functioning.” Although that’s a pretty basic definition, it does cue in on some of the main aspects. Anxiety has both physical and mental symptoms which are the consequence of your apprehension of something that may or may not really happen -usually a combination of the two. There’s actually a huge variety of “types” of anxiety – you can find more info on that on webmd.com.

Second: how exactly will you “feel” anxiety? As I already said, anxiety has both physical and mental symptoms. Most people know what “feeling anxious” is like on a mental level, but the physical effects are way less known, so here’s an overview of some of the main ones:

  • Upset stomach
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Being short of breath
  • Head aches
  • Low fever
  • Rashes
  • Sweating excessively
  • Dizziness

Again: if you want a more inclusive list of symptoms, you can check that out on webmd.com, but suffice it to say that the list can go on and on – and can be different for everybody.

What’s more, the way these symptoms are present can change from day to day, and can vary quite a bit in gravity!

Finally: there’s a difference between having anxiety and having an anxiety attack – while the first is more of a “general state of being”, the latter is usually triggered by something and is both more temporary and more intense.

 

How to deal with anxiety

 

So, then, how exactly are you supposed to deal with all of this?

The first, important, step is to identify exactly what it is that gives you anxiety. For example, I have general anxiety disorder as well as social anxiety and at times my anxiety will be aimed at something in particular (for the longest time, that was dogs). Specifically, I tend to be a “worst-case-scenario”-thinker to the extreme and having to interact with people is, to me, absolutely terrifying. Depending on how I’m feeling on any particular day, however, I can be okay with any of the things that would usually stress me or they can trigger me into having an anxiety attack.

Second: what are some of the things that make you relax on your good days? For me, for example, that’s listening to calm music (for example: the sound track of The Holiday), reading a favourite childhood book, doing power training, using calming breathing techniques, … Whenever you feel like you’re getting more anxious (in other words: when you notice that, on a regular basis, you’re getting some of the symptoms of anxiety) I try to make sure I get those things in on a daily basis.

At the same time, I try to pinpoint exactly what it is that’s giving me anxiety in that particular instance, and I try to either eliminate it (if it’s certain people, a certain social gathering I don’t need to be at, …) or make it more easy to deal with (for example: make smaller tasks out of one big one, practice giving a presentation, …)

In other words: I try to minimise the anxiety-inducing elements and maximise the calming elements in my day.

Some times, however, all else fails and then I (inevitably) end up getting an anxiety attack. These are, to me, some of the scariest and most difficult parts of having anxiety, just because they make me feel absolutely powerless over my own body. I don’t have any control over my breathing, over my shaking, over anything really.

The number one thing I then have to do is make sure I have some food in me (because not being able to eat is actually a major trigger for me).

Second of all, and something that helps for most people, is making sure to control your breathing: breath in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds.

While you do this, it can be really useful to have someone breath along in this rhythm, so that you can follow them.

It is also quite useful to have someone count out loud for you, so that you can focus on something outside of your head. The internet really is your friend when it comes to figuring out how to deal with anxiety. For example, here’s a list of positive (in other words: you can use before you get to the breaking point) anxiety coping tools, as well as a handy post on progressive muscle relaxation, a technique which has proven to be really useful for me.

Finally, an important option that should not be overlooked is medication – although i know that many people aren’t all too keen on taking medication unless they absolutely have to (hey, I’m one of you!), it can be really useful to talk to your doctor about anything they might offer you that can be helpful in dealing with anxiety, be it therapy or other coping mechanisms, or actual medication. After all, anxiety is the consequences of a chemical unbalance in your brain, so it’s only logical that chemistry (read: medication) might be necessary to make it cope-able.

Here’s the thing that might just have helped me most when dealing with anxiety: realising that there is no shame in having it – some people are born near-sighted, some have asthma, and some have anxiety. What’s important is figuring out how to deal with that in a way that suits you best – and then going on to live your best life.

If you suffer from anxiety, what has helped you deal with it? Be sure to let me know below!

 

-Saar 

 

 

 

  • I’ve been dealing with anxiety since 2008. The way I’ve dealt with it, isn’t a recommended way and has kept me from living a full life, my coping mechanism has been “avoidance”. I avoid the triggers so I don’t feel the sensations. I’ve tried medicine but it only lasts for about an hour or two. I honestly don’t know what to do about it. My anxiety is claustrophobia and social anxiety. Now I can kind of figure out with social anxiety, the more I interact with others, I’ll get used to it probably but the claustrophobia one is the hardest. I can’t imagine ever feeling comfortable in an elevator, locked in a car, being in a tunnel. Practicing breathing exercises I think would help me a lot but when I’m in that moment, I never remember to do those things that help. It’s more fight or flight and I always flight.

    • I really understand especially that last thing – that’s why I have a couple of people who know what it looks like when I’m starting to have an attack and that can really count for me. Otherwise, I don’t doubt I’d be stuck in it for way longer! I’m really sorry you have to go through that – I wish I could give you some pointers for the claustrophobia, but I’m still trying to figure that one out myself, for the limited extent that I suffer from it as well…

  • Mother of 3

    I definitely depend on breathing deeply and slowly. I also try to play out the worse case scenario in my head and look for solutions. New situations bring our my anxiety and so when I’m driving and starting to get nervous I remind myself that the worse that could happen is I hate it and I can leave and then I think of all the other times I faced my fears and had a wonderful time. I do a lot of self- talk and give myself little pep talks too.

    • I love that you do the worst case scenario thing as well – people always say I’m a pessimist for doing that, but I just feel like it helps me get a grip on situations, you know?
      I wish I were better at pep talks, but for some reason I just can’t seem to do that convincingly :s

  • I deal with social anxiety that involves hate being alone out in the dark!!!! I take deep breaths, think positive and face my fears!! love your tips!!!! Like you said there is no shame!!! xox

    • Oooh, I’m all too familiar with that! What helps for me is often having my phone ready to call someone – sometimes just knowing you can reach someone is already véry helpful as such, you know?

  • Laura Nolan

    this post is so helpful. I always find breathing slowly an deeply helps me so much!

  • Kimberley Jessica

    Love these! I’ve found thinking positive and listening to music with headphone and in really helps me

    http://Www.kimberleyjessica.co.uk

    • Unfortunately, I find thinking positive very difficult quite often. When I can do it, however, it does in fact help me a lot as well!

  • Danielle Fairhurst

    I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety for almost 12 years now and it’s so hard! Putting my headphones in and shutting everyone else out when I’m out and about helps loads. My biggest struggle is public transport which, living in London is never ever quiet!

    Dani xxx

    Dani | flourshingfreelancer.com

    • I love London, but I have to admit that I’m not too crazy about the Underground either… For me, it often helps if I can hold on to something physical – be it a little keychain or a book – it helps me drown out all the other input. Have you ever tried that?

  • Becca Jayne

    I suffer from anxiety which I’m really open about, and I’m always looking for new tips to help. This was such an insightful post- I normally have bad general nicety over people hating me all the time. X

    • People are the worst, aren’t they? Or at least, that’s what I often seem to make them out to be in my head :p

  • Pingback: Small Victories Sunday Linkup {120} - Mom's Small Victories()

  • Pingback: O Taste and See Small Victories Sunday Linkup 9/18 - O Taste and See()

  • Pingback: Small Victories Sunday Linkup Party - Sharing Life's Moments()

  • Pingback: Small Victories Link Up - Daily MOMtivity()

  • Pingback: Small Victories Sunday #81 - The Mad Mommy -()

  • Thank for sharing this, it’s good to see posts supporting each other, so many people write anxiety off as ‘just being silly’, it’s good to have some suggestions for self-care. #smallvictoriessundaylinkup

  • Pingback: What Small Victories are You Celebrating? | Divas With A Purpose()

  • Pingback: Welcome To Small Victories Sunday Linkup! | Keystrokes By Kimberly | Life, Style, Travel & Everything In Between()