Winning the Battle Against Anxiety
Why do I feel like an elephant is sitting on top of my chest? Literally… a huge elephant is crushing my chest. Yet the doctors have no explanation for my chest pain. Hmmm… So my heart is fine, according to the heart monitors and EKG. Maybe a chest x-ray would tell us something. I thought there would be something wrong for sure. Nope. Perfectly fine. Perhaps it’s my lungs causing this shortness of breath and chest tightening. Breathing test all turn out normal. Airflow is at %100. What could it be?!? Hormone imbalance? Glands functioning wrong? Electrolytes not right? They had to have missed something. Right??
Diagnosis: ANXIETY. What does that mean? You’re telling me that I feel like I’m dying because I’m anxious? Oh so you think I’m stressed. Well duh. Who isn’t? But I’ve dealt with stress my whole life. Why is this happening to me now? This “anxiety” is literally coming out of nowhere. I don’t understand how I can be rushed to the ER three times now and still have no clue what’s really going on inside my body. I can’t control it. There must be a way to fix it. Antidepressants are first on the list of medications to try. NO THANK YOU. These are dangerous. Just reading the side effects gives me anxiety so if I actually take them the anxiety will be ten times worse. Let’s try something natural. I’m done with doctors telling me that there’s nothing physically wrong with me. I’m done taking anxiety meds, antidepressants, and sleeping pills. I’m coming up with my own remedy and I’m going to discover the cause of all this nonsense. I am a perfectly healthy, young, fit woman. This should not be happening to me!
This was me after I had my first panic attack. After a couple of miserable months I decided that I had to do something about this. It was going to be up to me to save myself. Doctors weren’t much help and neither were medications. So I began to come up with my own treatment for anxiety. I know it’s not as fast acting as a pill but it’s way more effective and will change your life in such a positive way that you will feel even better than you did before the anxiety started.
Step one: Accept it. Stop trying to find a diagnosis. Searching the Internet for answers will only tell you that you’re probably going to die. Talk about anxiety.. Jeez… this probably causes most of my anxiety. Trust me, WebMD is a bad idea. Stay away from those sites. Check out some positive blogs about people dealing with anxiety. You’re not alone! Just reading about other people’s similar experiences makes me feel better. If they can get through this so can I.
Step two: Find someone to talk to. Someone other than your doctor. I talk to my boyfriend about how I feel. I’m really comfortable around him so it’s easy for me to open up and discuss some of the possible reasons for my anxiety symptoms. It’s not an easy thing to talk about. I feel like a crazy person sometimes because what I’m saying doesn’t make sense to him because he’s never been through an anxiety attack. It’s a really hard thing to explain to someone who hasn’t dealt with it themself. Try talking to someone who has been dealing with anxiety. Talking to other people who actually understand what I mean makes me feel less crazy.
Step three: Clean up your life. Organize your home, car, office, or whatever. Cleaning always makes me feel better about myself. It will also relieve some stress. It’s much easier to relax in a clean organized house than a messy one. Get a calendar and plan your days and weeks. Keep a journal to record your thoughts and feelings. You will start to see a decline in your anxiety level in your journal entries. You might start of saying that you feel like there’s no hope and a week later you will write that you doing much better. It’s encouraging to go back a read and see how far you’ve come.
Step four: Eat healthy food. Seriously, this is probably the most important step. Eating junk food will only make your anxiety symptoms worse. When you wake up in the morning drink a big glass of ice water. Try to drink a lot of water throughout the day. Eat vegetables. Stay away from sugary foods. Avoid snacking on junk food in between meals. Try eating some turkey for a snack if you think you are actually hungry. If you’re not really hungry you probably won’t eat much turkey. Stay away from caffeine. It’s ok to have some chocolate every now and then. Chocolate makes you feel happy! And please don’t try to self medicate with alcohol. It might seem like a good idea but trust me it won’t turn out the way you think it will. If one glass of wine can make you fall asleep then you might try having a glass before bedtime but I wouldn’t make a habit out of this. Alcohol will make you dehydrated, which will make your anxiety symptoms worse.
Step five: Exercise! This helps me so much. A moderate workout for about 45 minutes a day will make a complete difference in your mood. Your body will become healthier, you will feel happier, and you will look better! Nothing bad can come from exercise. I know it’s hard to get motivated enough to get out of bed and go for a jog, but trust me it will help tremendously. Start of with something easy and work your way into harder workouts. Don’t go overboard with working out though. Something too strenuous might cause your heart rate to shoot up and if you’re not ready for it you might become nervous and anxious. Yoga saved my life. It’s a good workout and it’s relaxing. It will also teach you to control your breathing!
Step six: Find something to take your mind off things. Getting caught up in a good book is a great way to get distracted from your own life. I’m addicted to Netflix. Unlimited movies and TV shows definitely distracts me. Just make sure you read or watch something that actually captivates your attention. Otherwise you won’t be able to get your mind off your anxiety. Painting my nails also gets my mind off things. Taking a bubble bath always relaxes me. A bubble bath, Netflix, and a cup of chamomile tea is how I treat my anxiety when it’s really bad. Community service also helps relive some stress. Helping out others will get your mind off of yourself. And you will feel great afterwards.
Step seven: Force yourself to live your life. Don’t stop doing things just because anxiety tells you that you can’t. Don’t be afraid to go to the movies because you might have an anxiety attack while you’re there. When you go out, tell yourself that you can beat anxiety. You control your body. You are strong enough to handle whatever it throws at you. Tell your anxiety to bring it on. If you are afraid of it, it will conquer you. If you face it head on, you will conquer it. I promise this works. When you feel the anxiety take over your body and you start to go into panic mode, try to increase whatever feeling you are having. Tell your body to create the most anxiety possible and see if anything actually happens to you. You’ll find out that anxiety is just a bully that’s all talk and no action. It can’t hurt you when you approach it like this. Give the anxiety about 30 seconds to give it’s best shot at you and then cut it off. You can even count down if it helps you control the anxiety. Do this a couple of times until you build up some faith in this method. Pretty soon you’ll be able to stop your panic attack right when it starts.
Step eight: Find a routine and stick to it. It takes 7 days to make a habit out of something. After that it just comes natural. Give it your all for one week and see what a difference it will make. Wake up early at the same time everyday, even on the weekend. Drink a glass of water and make a healthy breakfast. Do your morning workout. You could go for a 10 min walk, do yoga, or anything you want. Take a shower and get dressed. Straighten up around the house before you leave if you have time. Eat lunch at the same time everyday. Go for a walk after lunch to help you digest. Eat an early dinner around 5 or 6. Include some vegetables. Do about 20 or 30 minutes of light exercise between dinner and bedtime. Have a nightly ritual. Make some chamomile tea, read a book, take a bath, do yoga, have a glass of milk, or whatever makes you relax. If you do this every night your body will know that it’s time for bed after the ritual. Repeat this everyday!
Step nine: Be social. Have a good time with some friends. Laughing is one of the best stress relievers. Hang out with a group of friends once or twice a week. Talk about your life, and share your feelings. This will make you feel so much better. Your friends will also distract you from your anxiety. Going out with friends and dancing is one of my favorite stress relievers. Dancing burns calories and makes you feel great. It’s fun and relaxing. Get dressed up in something sexy and feel good about yourself. Flirt with someone. This will definitely make you feel better.
Step ten: Have faith. If you believe in God, know that he is going to be there with you through all of this. If you have questions, ask him. If you want to complain, tell him about it. If you want to cry, cry to him. Praying is a good stress reliever. Get everything off your chest. Tell God everything. Know that he has a plan for you. You are going through this for a reason. You will come out of this battle with something that normal people cannot achieve. You will gain so much strength from this experience. You will have the power to overcome so much more than you thought was possible before anxiety took over your life. Trust me, you will be stronger than anyone who hasn’t suffered through this. Hang on to this power and use it. Have confidence. I mean you are still here, aren’t you? Anxiety hasn’t won yet. You’ve survived anxiety attacks before. You can do it again. Anxiety is not going to win this battle. You have the upper hand here. You have all the tools to beat anxiety. The only thing anxiety lives off of is fear. Just like anything else that is evil in this world, fear is trying to control us. Don’t let it. Have faith. You will beat it.