All Aboard the Anxious Train
Where are we going? How many stops are there?
When was this train built? Is it old? Is it new?
How fast will it go? Why?
Does it have an emergency brake system? When was the last time it was tested?
Who's going to be on this train? Have they had background checks? Am I safe?
These are only a handful of the thoughts an anxious mind will have - all within a few minutes.
Along with these thoughts, a few other symptoms always accompany this sense of panic:
lack of concentration
increased heart rate
There are dozens more of signs and symptoms pertinent to anxiety.
Furthermore, it should be noted that there are several types of anxiety disorders. It's best to consult with a doctor or medical professional to diagnose symptoms you may be experiencing.
This is a glimpse into my experience of suffering with anxiety. Yes, suffering. It's natural to worry; however, there were years of my life wasted on worries that never happened. Restless nights, skin breakouts, and panic attacks consumed my life to say the least. Anxiety was the toxic boyfriend I couldn't break up with. After realizing I was doing everything to seemingly improve my life, I still suffered from myself. I was my own worst enemy from how much I'd feel worried about simple things or felt like I would physically be somewhere but my mind and body were completely elsewhere. Honestly, throughout it all, I didn't even know that I had anxiety. I thought it was a loosely used term by over-dramatic people. Yes, ignorance of mine at its finest to think that.
Anxiety is difficult to even explain. How do you explain to someone what's going on in your head when you don't even know what's going on in your head?
Does any of this sound like you or what you're feeling?
After going through multiple traumatic experiences all within a short time period, life was literally unbearable. My thoughts were spiraling to an extremely dark place. I needed help. I sought help.
What makes you feel more aware? What improves your mood and is harmless to yourself and your surroundings?
In addition to professional therapy and self-help books, the following are variety of techniques that I've found helpful to ease my anxiety.
Grounding: Use the 5,4,3,2,1 technique: 5 objects you can see, 4 objects you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, then finish with one affirmation
Breathing: Practice 4-7-8 breathing technique. Deeply breathe in through your nose for four seconds. Hold it for seven seconds, then take an even bigger breath out for 8 seconds. Release through your lips - making a soft 'woosh' sound. Repeat this at least three times or as needed.
Affirmations: Repeat: "I am safe at this moment. I am aware of my surroundings. What I am experiencing is only temporary. I am not defined by anxiety. My reality is mine and I am in control."
Physical space: Leave the room you're in, go for a drive, take a timed walk, dance.
Self Soothe: Practice your self care routine, savor a pleasant scent, use essential oils, take a warm bath, drink fragrant tea
Distractions: Find three yellow things, count by two's, sing a nursery rhyme
Simply recognizing that you're feeling anxious is a positive step in overcoming the struggle. Once you recognize it, explore it. Understand why - one thought at a time. Write it down. Break down each thought at a time. You can even create it in a diagram form and branch thoughts out as they come. Get to the root of where your thoughts are coming from and why they're getting to where they are. Then sit back and reflect: which of these thoughts are actual realistic concerns?
By taking these steps, you're more cognizant of your thoughts and thus, can control them better. Furthermore, the thoughts will be controlled before turning into actions. Embrace your thoughts and feel the emotions alongside them. This will allow you to comprehend why you're feeling what you're feeling when anxiety strikes. It's also a form of self-care. Eventually, you'll find peace amid the chaos. I wish you peace amid the chaos.
Amera's Book Recommendations:
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life - Thich Nhat Hanh
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment - Eckhart Tolle