I really hope this post helps a lot of you because I have been exactly where you are and I know how miserable anxiety can be. I first experienced anxiety/panic over 15 years ago, it comes and goes with the stresses of life, but that’s what is so important to understand…read on.
So many treat anxiety as an “illness” that is suddenly caught which arrives like a thief in the night to steal our life away from us. The typical treatment (especially if a new sufferer visits their doctor) is xanax or some other pill to take the symptoms away – note, that’s all it does is take the symptoms away.
Plain and simple, the symptoms are a response from our body telling us that something is not right. Stress is often the catalyst and can come in various forms. For example, I notice that when my allergies flare up or I haven’t been eating well or exercising, I get anxious. That’s just how it works. Why? Because allergies are stress-inducing on the body and exercise is stress relieving. We can only take so much before we “overflow” and experience the detrimental results of stress. That is a good thing.
Here’s what I mean. When stressed, our thoughts get the best of us. When our thoughts get the best of us, we get stressed – hence the cycle begins. From there, true physiological changes take place in the body. Our breathing rate increases, creating a state known as respiratory alkalosis. From there, the typical symptoms begin – chest pains, racing thoughts, dizziness, blurry vision, stomach upset, tingling, feeling spacey, etc. Of course, these feeling bring on more anxiety and the cycle continues. It’s all you can think about. Again, I’ve been there, I know.
Rather than reaching for the pill to mask the symptoms, get control of the root cause. What is creating stress in your life? Are you eating right? Are you getting exercise? Are you drinking enough water? Are you sleeping enough? Do you breathe correctly? Or, are you treating your body like a playground?
I’m not saying there is no place for pills or therapy, because there are times when these are necessary to get through to a place where you can stand on your own two feet again. I just want to point out that we are so quick to treat the symptoms when the cause is right there in front of us, yet we do nothing. Here are the things that really help me:
1) Breathe correctly. We all believe we breathe correctly, but in reality, we don’t. In fact, most anxiety articles you see will teach deep breathing, exactly what you don’t want to do. Over-breathing (even mild hyperventilation) creates most of the symptoms anxiety sufferers experience. No doubt in my mind about this. Do the research for yourself and see – have you ever seen a “stressed-out” yoga or meditation expert? The information that really helped me is in a book called Hope and Help for Hyperventilation Syndrome, by Joseph Pearson. This book will explain the reason behind all of the odd symptoms anxiety brings about and will teach you how to breathe correctly – a must.
2) Get serious about nutrition. Garbage in, garbage out. If you feed your body and mind junk, that’s how you will feel. Learn how food impacts your mood and energy levels. Eating poorly is stressful for the body and the cycle starts from there. Drink water and stay hydrated. Quit relying on caffeine and sugar for energy boosts, they spike insulin and make you jittery – the last sensation you need when anxious because your mind will pick it up and run with it.
3) Shut off the crap news and everything else on TV. Step outside, take a walk and breathe. The world is stressful enough without watching the news and trying to keep up with the demands of society. Focus on doing good things for your body and mind and help others around you.
4) Realize that you are not your thoughts when you are anxious. Don’t fuel the panic fire by thinking destructive things about yourself. When the anxiety passes, look back and realize how “silly” those thoughts were. Let scary thoughts “float by” rather than giving them credibility – thoughts are thoughts, nothing more.
5) Talk to someone if you need support. Just opening up and talking can take a heavy burden off of your shoulders.
6) Exercise is the #1 stress reliever. We weren’t meant to sit at a desk all day, so get up and move.
7) Pray and be thankful that it’s just anxiety…it will end when you learn how your mind and body react to certain situations.
Take care and don’t focus too much on how you feel each day…this too shall pass.