The Perfect Freakout

If you were ever wondering how to construct the perfect storm of anxiety, stress, and exhaustion into one beautiful ball of chaos, look no further. I have you covered with a personal story of mine. But more than that, I’d like to share this story to illustrate constructive ways to navigate anxiety, which can make you feel like an inescapable tank that is filling with water. While it may seem dramatic to compare anxiety to drowning, it can be just that bad in certain situations.

Sunday night before winter quarter began, I found myself in the Arizona airport trying to fly back to Santa Barbara just in time for school to start the next day. I had to take a detour from Palm Springs to Arizona finally back to Santa Barbara (confusing I know, but it's the truth). However, with challenging upper division classes looming over me, getting back to Santa Barbara in a timely fashion was no joke to me.

Big mistake, I missed my connecting flight due to unanticipated air traffic control issues. In a last effort attempt, I ran as fast as I could with a large backpack, a carry on suitcase and loose pants (which desperately needed a belt) to my gate only to see the plane to Santa Barbara had already left 10 minutes prior. Initially, they told me the later flight to Santa Barbara was fully booked. However, after an extremely effective hysterical crying episode on the phone with my dad directly in front of the booking counter, I was granted a ticket! Whether it was the crying or some godly miracle that I may never understand, the cards were in my favor!For the 20 something minutes in which I was unsure if I’d get back to Santa Barbara at all or if I’d have to stay in a hotel or fly back home to San Francisco, I was freaking out! And I mean cursing every other second, hair a mess, face red from crying kind of freaking out. And this is the same girl who traveled abroad by herself just this past summer.

At this point I’m sure you all think I’m crazy for simply crying over a missed flight, bare with me, I promise I’m going somewhere with this. This sort of thing happens all the time, as even some of the best plans could have a wrench thrown in them. How we chose to respond to these trying times is what shapes our lives and us as individuals. By no means did I have to freak out. I know that missing the first class is not the end of the world. I know my family and friends would help ensure I would get home, so what was I worrying so much about? I’ve been in numerous similar situations before, I knew I could do this.

Anxiety is funny in how it works like that. You can think you have it all under control, when in reality, it can hit you randomly at any time or place. Coping can be difficult, but a few tactics have really helped me learn how to deal. I’m not a doctor by any means, but these little things have greatly impacted my ability to slow down, access the situation, and ease anxiety.

  1. Reach out to friends and family. This may be one of the hardest things to do, but is one of the most useful things I’ve found. It can be awkward, intimidating, and make you feel vulnerable to open up to friends and family in such a way. Opening up, however, to true friends that you trust can provide the support you may need. Having the reassurance and love of those you care about always gives me confidence that I can manage through whatever I am experiencing. It helps to know I’m not alone.

  2. Drink some water and take a few deep breaths. This sounds basic, but sometimes it’s just what we need to truly slow down. A few deep meditative breaths slows down your heart rate and calms the system. I was sweaty and out of control after running through the airport. A few breaths really helped me slow down and return to normalcy to make clear decisions.

  3. Turn on some chill tunes and journal (or in my case write a Her Campus article). My sister has this amazing “chill out” playlist on Spotify that is just right when I need some slow tunes to distract my mind. Another major key to calming anxiety is some form of journaling or writing. In my case, I decided to kill my two hour layover by writing this article in the luxurious seats of the waiting area of the Phoenix airport. But expressing your feelings out in words can help put in perspective your situation and work things out through words. 

All images via