Anxiety And How I Deal
I have been seeing a lot of anxiety posts and topics in the last couple of days. I suppose it behooves us all if I write about it, yeah? Okay. So, anxiety is a real B#$%! and it affects me and several family members as well as a significant chunk of the population at large. So how do we deal with it? How do you pull yourself out of a panic attack when the world closes in and you can’t breathe anymore? Well unfortunately, there is no solid, universal answer. It varies from person to person. Today we will be exploring anxiety from a sufferer’s standpoint and looking at options that may help in times of crisis.
This is a nice, concise definition, isn’t it? It sure feels bigger than that when you’re in it.
But seriously, a panic attack makes you feel like you’re dying. It is sometimes mistaken for a heart attack. I have called 911 at least once in response to an anxiety attack when I literally thought I was dying. So what helps a person through these times? I don’t have the answer for you. Anxiety is very generic and most difficult to deal with in the moment.
Many people use medications to manage anxiety. I am completely on board with this. I personally use Buspar twice daily to keep me on an even keel and Klonopin as needed for those times when it threatens to swallow me whole. This works for me. I haven’t had a panic attack in over a year. But when they do come, I need something very specific to happen.
Look me directly in the eyes. Tell me firmly, “You are breathing just fine. This isn’t real and it will be over soon. You are fine. You are breathing.” Those few special words usually pull me out of the downward spiral of an episode. Don’t tell me I’m having a panic attack-I already know that and it will just make it worse. Don’t talk except to tell me what I need to hear-that will make it worse also. This is how I deal with my acute anxiety.
For my daughter it is different. There is a specific method to bring her out of an attack, and it also involves looking directly into her eyes. For her it is more complicated than it is for me. For you it may be even more so; or it may be simple. The problem is, we don’t always have a good friend or family member around who knows how to pull us out or is willing to do so. What can we do when we’re alone?
We can try breathing exercises. Now I know that when you are in it, you may not be able to think clearly. This is why it is important for us to practice these breathing exercises often, when we are not in a panic, so they start to become second nature and we don’t have top think about it.
One breathing exercise I really like is the 4-7-8 technique I mentioned in my post, “Fall Asleep For LIfe“. You inhale for a count of 4, hold it for 7 seconds, then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat. I also really like Yogic breathing, or pranayama. This involves lengthening your exhale along with other breathing variations. Click the link to learn more about yogic breathing.
During a panic attack, your breathing matters. It can be easy to hyperventilate, which is bad for your body and increases anxiety rather than decreasing it. You need to breathe out more, not in.
We can also try mental imagery. This is when we close our eyes and visualize ourselves breathing freely in meadow or some other happy place. We see ourselves as calm, collected, and most importantly, alive.
One thing that has worked for others I have helped is looking them in the face and doing the breathing exercises with them. I guess watching me breathe helps them to breathe too. This is a handy trick and you may want to try it if your loved one is suffering from an anxiety attack.
None of these suggestions are set in stone as remedies for everyone. Each person and every situation is different. What works for me is not necessarily what works for you. All I can say is that breathing (and how it is done) is very important when dealing with anxiety. It is best if someone who cares about you knows how to help you through it. You need a support system, as with any mental or physical problem.
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