Thursday, October 16, 2014

Anxiety, Stress, Panic Attacks, and How to Cope

Hello Everybody!

It's me again. So today I'd really like to take some time to speak about anxiety. Many people, including myself suffer with anxiety and panic attacks. I just want to say, that it's completely normal and ok.

When you are in a new place somewhere unfamiliar, or maybe a new situation, going to college for example. You may experience some anxiety, and that's ok. When I got here, I was fine and I wasn't having any anxiety or anything. But, after a few weeks, I had just begun to settle into life in college and I had a panic attack. I hadn't had one in a really long time I wasn't really expecting it so, it was far scarier than usual. It was not fun.

It occurred to me that so many people suffer with the same things I do, but a lot don't know what to do, or how to cope. So, I'm going to share the things and methods I use to cope.

For My Anxiety:
I usually have to keep my hands or mind busy/distracted when I'm feeling super anxious. I carry around silly putty, and I knead it in my hands and such when I'm feeling anxious. I just find it very therapeutic, and soothing. I also sometimes need to just take a break, I'll take some time, to calm down, chill out a little or something. I'll do something that makes me happy.

Tips to help manage anxiety and stress:

  • Get at least 8hrs of sleep each night, which I know can be very hard in college, and in general, but its so much more beneficial to get that sleep.
  • Eat well balanced meals, don't skip meals, and keep healthy energy boosting snacks on hand for when you're feeling peckish. 
  • Take break. Just take ten minutes to chill out, listen to some music, meditate, etc.
  • Exercise often. Exercise is a great way to de-stress. Go for a walk outside, or go to the gym, dance around your room, whatever you fancy.
  • Laugh everyday. Even if it's at something stupid. Laughter is the best medicine.
When I'm Having a Panic Attack:
I don't particularly like panic attacks, they are not, or a joke. When a person is having a panic attack, their body goes into shock and panic. 
Symptoms are:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Choking sensations and nausea
  • Shaking and sweating
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Chest pain and heartburn
  • Muscle spasms
  • Hot flashes or sudden chills
  • Tingling sensations in your extremities
  • A fear that you’re going crazy
  • A fear that you might die or be seriously ill 

I know I do a lot of these things. In particular I feel like I'm dying, I hyperventilate, I get that tingling sensation in my hands, my heart beats at about a million miles an hour, and I get very dizzy or light headed. My panic attacks can last for hours if I cant get them under control, and they go for ages, then stop for a bit and start again. I typically like to have my dog with me, as she calms me down. But seeing as I'm college I don't have that option. Instead I'll go to my happy place. Yes, I know a happy place sounds absolutely ridiculous. But I promise it works. I shut my eyes, and imagine myself there. I take deep breaths and just focus on that happy place and how calm it is and I eventually can calm down.

Tips to help when having panic attacks:
  • Relax your muscles, find a comfortable position to sit or lay in.
  • Take deep breaths through your nose while counting to five. Keep a hand on your diaphragm (just above your stomach) and feel it expand as you take a deep breath to know that you are breathing deep enough.
  •  After counting to five release the deep breath slowly through your nose.
  • Next close your eyes, and focus on your toes. Curl them for a count of five then uncurl. Move on to your feet, contract the muscles tightly for a count of five then relax them.
  • Continue all the way up your body (calves, thighs, buttocks, stomach, chest, shoulders, neck, fingers, hands, and arms) all the way up to your face.
  • By the time you've gotten to your face you should be much more calm.
Another thing you could try when having a panic attack, as strange as it sounds, is go for a walk. The exercise will help relax your body. Sometimes the most basic of activities–like a walk through a quiet park, down a street you find relaxing, or anywhere that helps you take your mind off your anxiety–can be the best medicine. Light aerobic exercise also helps your body produce endorphins. And getting fresh air and sunshine can have a positive effect.

I hope this has helped someone. I'd like to think so, I don't know. But if you're worried about your anxiety and need to speak to somebody about it, but are worried they wont be able to help, try anyway. You might be surprised.

Much love & glitter

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