Shedding a Light on Anxiety

You’re sitting at home working on homework that you procrastinated on. You feel stressed because you have so much to do and you put yourself in this situation. Everything is fine until it’s not. You begin to have trouble breathing, your vision becomes blurry, your heart is racing at a speed that feels a hundred miles a minute, you can’t seem to make any comprehensible sounds that will bring you help and all you can think of is that this is all your fault. In the 8th grade, I experienced my first anxiety attack. I didn’t know that what I felt that night was anxiety and that it wouldn’t be the last time it happened to me. I remember feeling so scared that I didn’t tell anyone. I was scared that if I talked about it, it would happen again and make it a reality instead of something that I might have just imagined due to slight stress. From being diagnosed with anxiety and experiencing panic attacks to learning how to cope with everything and finding what helped calm me down, I’ve come a long way from the night of my first anxiety attack. Everyone experiences anxiety and panic, some more than others, but you’re never alone and help is always near despite of how alone you may feel throughout this experience. Being able to distinguish what triggers these attacks and learning how to cope is an amazing thing. I hope sharing my experience helps bring some light to such a confusing and dark experience.

Merriam-Webster defines anxiety as "an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it". Anxiety is your brain going into overdrive and turning on your fight or flight reflexes on a daily basis. Anxiety also comes along with panic attacks which are defined as "sudden episodes of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause", by Mayo Clinic. Some common symptoms of anxiety include; nervousness, restlessness, tension, feelings of danger, panic, dread, rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, sweating, trembling or muscle twitching, weakness and lethargy, difficulty focusing, insomnia, digestive problems, and avoidance.

My experience with anxiety is all of those symptoms. They vary in intensity and how many of the symptoms I experience at once. At first I couldn’t define any triggers but as time has passed and I’ve become more aware of my environment and how my anxiety reacts to it, I’ve learned what brings on these attacks. I know that driving and traffic can bring on anxiety, as well as new environment and high stress situations (like have two majors) are a few of my triggers but I have developed ways to lessen the worry that turns into anxiety.

When I start to feel anxious I try to focus on smell, touch, sound and breathing. Focusing on these things not only helps distract any anxious feelings that may be rising but it almost always helps calm and rid of oncoming anxiety attacks.

Lavender, mint, eucalyptus and sage are all smells that help me feel grounded and recharged. My favorite things to keep with me are the Bath and Body Works Aromatherapy Recharge sage and mint body cream and their Focus eucalyptus and mint hand sanitizer. A little goes a long way and I always carry one of them wherever I go!Photo Courtesy of: Bath and Body WorksPhoto Courtesy of: Bath and Body Works

I find that focusing on touch helps make me feel grounded. I either like cold or warm touches. I like to run my hands and wrists under cold water or keep Hot Hands hand warmers in my car or purse.Photo Courtesy of: Amazon

My favorite way to calm my anxiety is listen to music. I love finding new calming playlists on Spotify and any classical music. My favorite is their Peaceful Piano playlist that I blast even when doing homework.Photo Courtesy of: Spotify

Focusing on my breathing is a very important step for me. It’s the first thing to start going downhill when I begin to feel overwhelmed with anxiety. Counting and breathing makes me feel in control of what my body is doing and it also keeps me aware of how fast my heart is beating. It sounds like such a simple concept but I can easily lose touch with reality, give into my anxiety and begin to hyperventilate and have an anxiety attack.

Everyone’s experience with anxiety or panic attacks will be different. These are just a few of the things that make me feel in control of what I experience. Remember that repressing the validity of your anxiety only keeps you from moving forward. Talk to someone and become educated on what you experience. The more you know, the more ways you can help yourself. Don’t let yourself fall into a dark and lonely journey through anxiety and panic attack, like I did for so long.Photo Courtesy of: Pinterest