Many people deal with panic and anxiety attacks in their daily lives - just trying to get through their chores, tasks, or activities can seem insurmountable. It's hard for people to understand these types of problems if they've never experienced them before - they don't understand why "simple things" are such a big deal or why people "let" themselves get so worked up over stressful situations. Sometimes it can't be helped - it just happens - but generally there is an underlying cause.
Are you feeling stressed out, anxious or worrisome? Do you have episodes where you feel like you're having a heart attack, that you can't breathe, or that you feel like you're confined and you have to escape? Perhaps you just feel like you just can't turn off your negative or worrisome thoughts. Do you lie awake at night or freeze up at times throughout the day? Okay, I may have sounded a bit like a commercial for a magical pill and I apologize. I have some family members that deal with anxiety problems, excessive worrying and panic attacks. I myself have had some of these issues before too. So today I'm presenting my top ten ways to deal with with panic and anxiety:
1. Try to isolate the cause of your anxiety/negativity. Make a list (physically with paper & pen if you can) of possible causes or things that are on your heart/running through your mind. Have you recently had a fight with a loved one? Maybe financial or relationship issues are stressing you out. Do you "freak out" in areas that are busy, noisy, or over-stimulating? Do you struggle with an ongoing illness or have you had a big change in your life? (Like a new job, a move, a new baby, divorce, etc.) If you're feeling frightened, what in particular is scaring you? Sometimes even something we think doesn't bother us can be the culprit. I've had friends and family members become anxious about driving because of a fear of wrecks, the fear of a new situation, and being in a crowded environment.
2. Try deep breathing or visualization. Think about a time in your life when you were the most calm, serene, or relaxed that you've ever felt - why was that? Perhaps you were lounging on the beach, relaxing in your bed, gazing at a sunset, or spending time with a loved one. How can you recreate or remind yourself of that moment? Picturing that scene or idea (visualizing) can be very powerful. You can also use deep breathing in conjunction with your pleasant image - take long deep breaths in and out while imagining your special scene/moment.
3. Affirmations and positive thinking are other tools to try. They can simple phrases (like "I can get through this") or more specific ones, dealing with your unique situation. You can repeat them as a mantra or just keep them in mind to help you focus. One idea in particular is to print some out and stick them in highly visible places like your refrigerator door, bathroom mirror, desk, bedside table, etc. Or write them on note cards/sticky notes and put them in your wallet. Here are a few "to the point" quotes I have saved:
~ @RickWarren: Reject panic with praise. Replace worry with worship. Relieve anxiety with adoration.
~ @GetUpWithGod: There's no need to fear anything in this world. Don't freak out. Never panic. God is here.
~ Edith Armstrong: I keep the telephone of my mind open to peace, harmony, health, love and abundance. Then, whenever doubt, anxiety or fear try to call me, they keep getting a busy signal - and soon they'll forget my number.
4. Scripture can be very comforting. It's okay to be afraid - should I repeat that? It's okay to be afraid...it really is - we just have to remember that even though we're scared, God is still with us. If you have a Bible, flip through it and browse through the concordance or index to find verses on comfort, healing, or hope. Here are just a few:
~ Psalm 56:3 "Even when I am afraid, I keep on trusting you."
~ Isaiah 41:13 "For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you.'"
~ Psalm 34:4: "I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me, freeing me from all my fears."
5. Consider writing, journaling, or prayer. Many people bottle up their feelings, thoughts, or emotions so as not to burden others, because they are shy, or just because that was the way they were taught. This can cause panic and anxiety problems. Letting those things out (in some shape or form) is essential. Praying aloud or silently can be a balm. You can turn all your cares and troubles over to God. Mary C. Crowley said, "Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He's going to be up all night anyway." Whether it's a short, desperate prayer in your time of need or a long list of worries that are keeping you awake at night, God is always listening. Another idea is to try writing to vent and clear your head of those unhealthy thoughts. Write down all the things that are bothering you or the worries that you have. You can write your thoughts out in a journal, notebook or even type them up in a document on the computer. Blogs are also great for that sort of thing...as I would well know! ;)
6. Examine your diet and lifestyle. Everyone is different in their activity level, what they like/dislike to eat, and how their body processes things. Have you considered how that may be affecting you? Keep a food journal to track your eating habits for a week or so, make sure you're drinking enough fluids and that you're being active enough. Many people find working out, walking, or a simple exercise routine helps to combat panic/anxiety.
7. Find what works for you! The famous author Mark Twain once said, "Drag your thoughts away from your troubles...by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it." Whatever way you find that helps you to manage your panic/anxiety, embrace it! What works for someone else may not work for you and that's perfectly okay. If you try something and it doesn't work, move on to the next thing.
8. Don't just try to ignore it - that can have bad consequences. Martin Luther said, "Heavy thoughts bring on physical maladies; when the soul is oppressed so is the body." Being overly worried, nervous, or stressed can make you mentally AND physically sick. Panic and anxiety problems can cause people to have a variety of symptoms from losing or gaining excessive weight, dizziness, chest pains, stomachaches, headaches, other assorted aches and pains. It can also cause progression into more serious problems and lead to phobias and other disorders.
9. Confide in a trusted friend/family member/professional. Don't be afraid to open up to a trusted and friend or family member about your struggles. Or seek out a pastor from your church or another local church, a counselor, or other type of professional. Google your state's social services agencies or healthcare websites to find local counselors, psychiatrists/psychologists, and doctors.
10. Last but not certainly not least, if you are really struggling and/or cannot find relief, it may be time to seek further help. Here are some helpful websites with more information:
~ Generalized Anxiety Disorder - ADAA
~ Tips to Cope with a Panic Attack ~ Psych Central
~ Bible Study about Anxiety
~ Medical News Today ~ What is Anxiety? A Guide to Anxiety
~ Panic Survivor ~ Forums & Articles to Help People with Panic Attacks & Anxiety Disorders
(Note: Some types of panic and anxiety problems run deep and can require extensive treatment through medicine, therapy, doctor's visits, etc. I am not a doctor and am not attempting to diagnose anyone. These are just my thoughts on how to combat worries, concerns and fears on your own.)
*Updated - 2014
This post is linked up to: