Senior Veteran (female)
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Rochester, NY
| | Dealing with Anxiety, Part 3 of 4
These are the steps that I took to feel more like my old self (2 -14, out of 14):
8. Remember, although it may not seem like it, in whatever stage of panic you are in, there is always a light at the end of that scary tunnel. And in your own time (no-one else’s), when you’re ready to move forward a little more, you will. People who tell you to “just get over it” are well meaning, but may not understand the depth of your experience. That’s ok. You will find many well intentioned people offering their advice. Deep down inside, you’ll find a way through panic that works for you. I always used to tell myself, “oh well, this is how it’s going to be right now, so I’ll find what enjoyment I am able to right now”. I felt sorry for myself because I was so outgoing and I remember how carefree I was before panic, AND wooziness.
9. Move your muscles! Exercise in any form really does make the body feel better (make sure you get your doctor's OK). For a time, I was even afraid of exercising because in some ways, exertion sensations can feel like panic symptoms, and they added to my disequilibrium symptoms. But exercise is a good way to calm your body down. If you are hyperventilating (for example), do jumping jacks! It sounds silly, but since these symptoms feel the same to your body, substitute one reason for having those symptoms, for another. Instead of pacing in worry, speed walk around the yard. Exercise releases natural chemicals in the body that aide in relaxation. It's hard to want to exercise in the middle of an anxiety or worry attack, but it truly does help. That's not to say that you always have to be in constant motion - the idea is to focus on your symptoms in a different way, not tire yourself out.
I had to work up to this, because my imbalance symptoms sometimes like to be in the lime light, and get in the way of me trying to be active. Some days, even walking is hard for me!
10. Keep a journal! It's amazing how much people hold things inside. Although a journal is not like confiding something to a real person who can give you feedback, psychological "airing it out" relieves stress and tension. It's like venting without voice! Journaling can be done anywhere, and allows you to alleviate immediate stress. This way, instead of playing over and over again a bad moment at work (for example), you can take a break and jot down your upset or worry to "get it off your chest". This will help you over time to not obsess about a thought or experience as much, and you will begin to rely more on yourself for problem solving and self-calm, than on others. I carry my journal with me, and it looks just like a dozen other notepads that anyone can have for any reason. I am able to look back at my entries and see the progress I have made (going from a daily, worry-wart writer to writing when I was in panic mode, to writing about good things).
11. Maybe I should list this first! Next to counseling, prayer has been for me the most effective way to calm myself. I usually repeat The Lord's Prayer, which is something I find comforting from my childhood, and that has the power to calm me now, almost immediately.
12. Get sleep, or at least rest. You may want to see about taking a mild sleeping aide. Sleep is restorative and rejuvenating, and lack of sleep will add to anxiety symptoms. For me, lack of sleep also will add to my disequilibrium symptoms. If you are not up to trying a sleeping aide, try (with your doctor’s permission) a teaspoon or two of liquid Benedryl. It’s an antihistamine, but is also used as a mild sedator for many things, to include aiding with sleeplessness. If I have trouble sleeping on occasion, I will take some antihistamine.
And if your stress won’t allow you to sleep, don’t worry about it. Your body will sleep when it really needs to, whether you feel tired or not. If you find yourself too anxious with worry thoughts or bodily symptoms to sleep, do something. This is difficult sometimes, especially when the whole world is sleeping and you’re not. But fold clothes, go for a walk, read a book, write in your journal, start a project or hobby. Don’t worry so much about not being able to sleep. Many people dealing with anxiety are just too geared up to sleep on a schedule; it’s okay.
13. Make sure you eat well. Anxiety makes people either not hungry, or ravenous. If you are up, pacing and not sleeping – chances are right now you’re not eating or not eating healthy. Stick with dependable comfort food like baked potato, chicken soup, hot tea, peanut butter & jelly, applesauce….you need to eat! Not eating can give you bodily sensations that will make you feel panicky. It’s a natural reaction to the body not getting enough food. I’m not saying eat all the time – but maintain a diet even if you don’t feel like eating. Stay away from the “easy, quick” foods like Fast Food, candy, ice cream – these are just “fillers” for your tummy, and your body won’t benefit from ingesting it.
A lot of people with anxiety will feel too nauseous to eat. Still, get used to eating when you’re feeling anxious. Anxiety and worry burns a lot of calories over time in an unhealthy way – it’s a lot of energy to be a worry wart! So, make sure you eat a little something on a daily basis. Even if you don’t feel hungry, your body needs that fuel to maintain health.
Not eating properly can also cause low blood sugar symptoms, which can feel sort of like dizziness. So, eat a little something at least three times a day.
14. Keep hydrated. Your body begins to feel the effects of dehydration long before you feel thirsty. Even slight dehydration can cause bodily symptoms that mimic panic and wooziness. That doesn’t mean you need to drink all the time, but a few tall glasses of something like water, Gatorade, or unsweetened ice tea is a good idea.