I had a completely different post planned for today. I’ve been living in maxi skirts, and I wanted to share a fun roundup of a few that have been catching my eye recently. But the idea for this post keeps coming back to me. When I had half of it already written in my mind while running earlier today, I decided that I needed to publish it. So, again just like this post, I’m writing from my heart with the idea that it might help just one person. I’m not a doctor; however, I’ve dealt with this intensely for over 10 years.
I have anxiety and am prone to the (occasional) panic attack.
Without fully realizing it, I’ve definitely grown and changed since I first started really diving headfirst into how to best deal with anxiety and panic attacks. From my experience, here are five tips to help you take a breath and live, really live, your life even though anxiety and panic attacks may play a part:
1. Find a third party to talk to: Whatever you’re feeling or thinking is far better off said, in my experience, than it is swirling around in your mind. So, find a third party who will listen completely to any and everything you need to say. The important thing about a third party is that they are a middle man. My mom and I talk about everything together, but sometimes I really need an outside party to weigh in that I don’t talk to and/or see on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. Doctors, family members, friends, professors, coworkers – someone you trust is key.
2. Find a hobby (or a few): When I first started really learning about how to best live with anxiety, I learned very quickly that having a hobby meant always having a go to when I felt the need to stay busy. For me, this means fresh air and lots of it. I go for walks, run, ride bikes, read outside – truly anything that will allow me to spend time in the sunshine. Find something that you love, something that will keep your mind occupied that also allows you to have fun. If you are ever panicking, try to get outside. Breathing in fresh air with space around you always helps.
3. Patience is a virtue you really need to have: This may sound strange, but one of the greatest things that was ever said to me is that my anxiety is never going to go away. Instead, I’ll learn how to recognize and solve the problem that is making me anxious much faster over time. For such a long time, I wanted to do whatever it took to make myself into someone that wasn’t anxious. I was frustrated (and let down) that I couldn’t seem to reach that point. But hearing that it wasn’t something that I was failing to do calmed me down completely and changed how I view things. I’m never going to be completely free of anxiety. Certain things will always bother me. But I will (and have!) learn(ed) how to cope and cope quickly. Be patient. You’ll get there.
4. Be kind to yourself: Similar to the above point about being patient, please remember to be kind to yourself. I’ve learned there are so.many.people who have anxiety and panic attacks, but they might not talk about it outright. You’re not alone. Also, don’t force yourself to do things that you know make you upset early on in your journey (or ever, quite honestly). In my case, I try to stay clear of super crowded bars (and other scenarios), articles and books that I know talk about things that will definitely bother me, etc. When anxiety or panic sets in when I do have to do something (ie: flying!) that I know makes me nervous, I remind myself (sometimes out loud if I’m completely by myself) that I am, in fact, OK.
My final tip applies to anyone who lives with anxiety or knows someone who does…
5. Be reassuring: Whether you’re anxious or having a panic attack, always remind yourself in the moment that this, too, shall pass. Talk to someone, write everything down, listen to music that will stop your train of thought and help you to calm down, breathe, find fresh air, drink water. Remind yourself that you will be OK again in a short while. The same is true for a friend who may be witnessing a panic attack. Listen (don’t stop listening!), try to remove her from the situation and step outside, offer water, and try to talk as calmly as possible. PS: Saying “you’re going to be OK” tends to work and sound a bit better than “calm down”. Calm is currently unattainable, but most people will realize that they are going to be OK again once they power through the panic.
While anxiety and panic attacks definitely aren’t fun, I wouldn’t trade either. They’ve taught me strength and bravery, and I feel lucky to have learned so much about myself through my journey. Work through it (because it’s definitely work), and at one point you will hopefully realize that you’re content…and happy. There’s always a light to be found.
Stay tied to Carly is Inspired…