I am currently 17, and I am going through anxiety. Mainly health anxiety, but I also stress about the future in general, because I am an obsessive school worker and I basically live for my school grades at the moment!
Anyway, I was having all kinds of heart-realted stuff that I was convinced was some kind of terrible problem - sometimes it would beat hard and fast, sometimes it would skip a beat, sometimes it would ache, or I would feel pressure in the centre of my chest. All of these symptoms never last more than a couple of minutes, and obviously I am still here, so each end every time this has happened (and I was convinced that I was having a heart attack) it has been symptoms of stress and anxiety. If this sounds like you, then read on.
So, when I finally went to see the doctor and got back normal blood pressure, ECG results (my heart was beating pretty hard during the ECG and I was pretty much prepared for bad news, but it was normal and healthy), I started work on avoiding anxiety. Here are some things I have tried that can help out:
- Drinking. Before recent times, I maybe drank a litre of water a day, tops. Now, I drink 2.5L a day after I found out that this is what I should be doing. It can be a bit boring drinking water and having to force yourself to do it - so I downloaded an iPhone app called 'waterlogged'. It was free, and basically, it lets you record every drink you take by just pressing a button, and as you go through the day, you can see a little glass filling up towards your set target, and it gives you a nice encouraging message when you get there. Then, the next day, you are presented with another empty glass to fill in the day ahead - it's suprisingly fun! This gives me a small guaranteed purpose to wake up to every day, and it can take your mind of things, as well as filling you with that healthy liquid.
- Talking to people. This board is a great place, but it is not so great if you spend ALL your time looking through other people's sad stories. This is for the non-anxiety sufferers, and the people who have BEEN through the same thing to do, so that they can help, rather than for the people who are having problems themselves at this moment. So, try to make your 'my anxiety story' thread positive and hopeful rather than all sad. Write about something that you found happy or funny in your life, and tell us what good things happened today so that when you look back on it, you will feel good about it too
If you look at my story that I posted there, yes, it is all depressing, but I have since posted positive things which make me feel good when I re-read them. I, personally, find reading about something nice that happened in a person's day more valuable and uplifting than hearing about nothing but bad things - you know the good things are in there, so let them out even if you might feel sad right now. Also, talking to people on a 1 to 1 basis can be really helpful, so don't be afraid to send private messages if you want to.
- Music. I'm not really a big music fan, but I have some songs that I really like listening to. My collection is totally random, but I find that it can help if I sing, hum or tap out a nice tune on the table when I am feeling stressed and panicky. I sometimes like to pretend I am playing a piano under the table, or tapping out guitar notes (I don't even know how to play the guitar) to the rhythm of my favourite song regardless of what situation I am in. You can do this anywhere, any time, so don't be afraid to get lost in the music, even if you are not listening to it at that moment. I also listen to soothing ambient music or nature sounds when I go to sleep now - I have another app called 'easy relax' and one called 'ocean waves' that let you set ambient sounds on a timer. It's cool, and gives you something to think about as you fall asleep. Don't play it too loud though, I put the speakers at the other end of the room, and play it on low volume so that I don't really notice it when it goes off.
- Think about funny and random things. This is actually very good at curbing negative thoughts. Whenever I start thinking about my health anxiety or worrying about the future, I have started forcing another random and funny thought into my head instead. It can be hard to get into, and in the first couple of days it is easy to think about something for a couple of seconds and then just let the anxiety take over once that particular thought has run its course, but if this happens, you should slide another thought on top of it. I am a fan of shows like the simpsons and family guy, so now when I start worrying, I just let a quote or scene enter my head and amuse me for a bit! This can work with other thoughts too.
- Spend time around people. It makes me more secure to be around people, so I try to be around friends and family rather than going and sitting in a corner by myself. Don't be afraid to tell them about it, and if you start having symptoms of panic or anxiety, then it is OK to let them know about it. I'll bet they would actually be quite interested to learn more about you and what is going on with you.
- Don't be scared of the symptoms. There is a reason your body does what it does. We are living in a modern world, with all kinds of strange and weird things that we haven't had time to evolve to yet, so if you start feeling things that may feel like an illness, chances are, it is your finely honed brain and nervous system doing what it thinks is best in the situation. That's what I reckon, anyway.
Also, exercise can make you feel good. I do it on a regular basis now, and I don't always feel motivated to do it, and I sometimes feel a bit panicky about exerting myself - sometimes the symptoms can set in if I am feeling particularly down, but I do it anyway, because it can only be good for me. every step you take strengthens your body, so take as many as possible.
That's about it for now! Please reply if any of this works for you.