SHIFT: YOUR ANXIETY
Like many of you, I have struggles with severe anxiety.
I would get anxiety attacks that would leave me incapacitated for hours. Until I found ways that helped me understand what was happening and how to deal with it. My strongest symptoms were shortness of breathe, racing heart beat, stomach pain & dizziness. It would feel like someone was constricting my throat and I couldn't catch my breathe, and my heart would pound so loud it felt like it was on the outside of my body. Sweating...lots of sweating. I would curl into a ball and wish the world away.
The causes of anxiety attacks are not well understood. They can be triggered by traumatic life events or if you are prone to depression or anxiety disorders. Many believe anxiety attacks run in families with a genetic predisposition. In other words, if your mom and her sister had anxiety attacks, it’s likely you will, too.
Here are some practical strategies in how to deal with stress and anxiety attacks:
Accept that you cannot control everything.
Do your best.
Maintain a positive attitude.
Learn what triggers your anxiety.
Make a Shift:
Answers these simple questions to help get a handle on your anxiety:
1. What do your anxiety symptoms feel like? Be specific, in great detail, so you can identify when you are having anxiety vs something else.
2. What helps you when you are feeling anxious? - deep breathing, going for a walk, calling a friend, etc
3. What can I do right now? - for example if you are in the middle of a meeting you can’t really call a friend but you can focus on slowing down your breath
Settle your Mind
Learning what triggers your anxiety is very important. Awareness is half the battle. Sometimes you can take small steps to conquer your anxiety instead of letting the trigger conquer you. Perhaps meeting new people causes you high anxiety, consider going with a friend to keep you in familiar company while meeting new people. Just like anything, the more you practice the easier it gets. All the pent-up fear and anxiety attacks will start to resolve as you become accustomed the strategies on how to deal with your anxiety.
A few other things can help avoid anxiety attacks: avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can exacerbate anxiety, causing your heart to beat fast. Eat well-balanced meals. Get plenty of sleep, especially when you are stressed. Exercise every day to feel good and stay healthy.
We can't actually make an anxiety attack stop through force of will, but you can look back on pervious ones and remind yourself that it's a temporary and it will come to a stop even if it feels awful for a while.
Make a Shift:
Create "Anchor Thoughts"
thoughts that carry power of excitement!
Think of a time when you last felt good with this person, or the last time you stood up for yourself, spoke your true feelings / thoughts and felt good, felt successful. This will create an energy of excitement so when you walk into the situation and you are feeling anxious, these good feeling thoughts are present and so your mind is already in a place of
"I feel good, I'm interested and excited to explore & discover" this next experience.
Settle your Body
One the easiest and my favorite ways to help calm my anxiety is belly breathing.
Feeling short of breath is a hallmark sign of an anxiety attack. But you can make the feeling worse by taking short, shallow breaths. Try belly breathing instead to stop the anxiety attack. When an anxiety attack starts, exhale deeply, loosen your shoulders, and focus on some longer, deeper inhales and exhales that let your belly rise and fall. Place one hand on your belly if you need to feel this happening.
Relax Your Body to Ease an Anxiety Attack
It's easy to say, "Just relax," right? But once you start to observe your body during an anxiety attack, you might find that certain parts of your body clench up during an attack. Make a deliberate effort to tighten and then relax those parts of your body. Or, if those parts feel like they won’t obey during an anxiety attack, pick a body part that will respond, such as your toes or your shoulders. The more you can breathe deeply and relax, the easier it will be to cope.
Talk Out Loud to Yourself
Give yourself permission to have an anxiety attack by saying the words out loud. Remind yourself that the attack will end, and it won’t kill you or cause you to faint. Understanding the physiology of fainting and reminding yourself of it is important. People faint when their blood pressure drops. A anxiety attack can make you feel like you’re going to faint, but you won’t because your blood pressure doesn't drop during an attack. Remind yourself out loud of truths like these to counter your fears.
Stay in the Moment to Relieve Anxiety Attacks
Although your gut response might be to leave the stressful situation immediately, don’t. It's important to let your anxiety level come down. Then you can decide if you want to leave or if there's a way to get back to whatever you were doing when the anxiety attack started. Staying in the moment will help you overcome anxiety.
Getting good anything takes practice and patience,
a Settled Mind = a Settled Body
practice with compassion,
the more your practice the easier it gets!
How to stop an anxiety attack and recover
Write down your Symptoms, Triggers & Experience
When you notice you are having one write down your symptoms & experience, this can help you put things into perspective. This might be challenging if its one of your first anxiety attacks, but after that you'll know more about what to expect.
Trigger: a partner, parent, roommate
Symptoms: chest pain, racing, heart, shortness of breathe, stomach pain
Write down exactly what you are worried about?
You want to be able to catch yourself before it feels out of control. Be specific, what are you worried about?
Getting yelled at from boss, spouse, partner, parent, roommate?
Don't let your mind "highjack" You.
Some symptoms of panic attacks are:
an intense feeling of fear
fear of dying or losing your mind
hot flashes and cold chills
rapid breathing and shortness of breath
being unable to swallow