I am terrified when night approaches. I am not afraid of the dark. Darkness does not scare me. What scares me are the thoughts that flood my mind as soon as my head hits the pillow. Day in, day out it’s the same story repeating itself. When everyone is getting ready for a long peaceful sleep, my mind is racing, my heart is beating extra fast and my breathing is so shallow I am scared that one day I will eventually stop breathing. Every. Single. Night. Tossing and turning in bed I am not able to quieten my noisy brain. The fear encroaches on my chest and the worry starts to choke me.
I am scared of all the ifs … of all the shoulds … of all the “I won’t be able to” … and of all the hows. The dark is not able to engulf all of this worry, it just makes it look more ominous and scary. How can I get myself to sleep? This is going to be another very long night. This is an example of what people suffering from anxiety go through. The monster they face on a daily basis, who creeps in unexpectedly and who leaves the person frozen and helpless. Unfortunately, it is very common and is experienced by people of different ages and coming from different walks of life. It can hit unexpectedly and catches you off guard. Even though dealing with anxiety is exhausting, one can try and manage it as best as he or she can.
Anxiety can affect the individual in all aspects of life. That is why it is very important that one learns different techniques of how to handle his or her anxiety. How does anxiety manifest itself? Well, anxiety affects one’s thinking process, feelings, behavior, and even physical well being. People suffering from anxiety report experiencing lengthy periods of ruminations and uncontrollable thoughts. Others report feeling blank or confused and they find it very difficult to trust their instincts and make decisions even on a very small scale.
They also report excessive fear and nervousness about certain situations. They face unrealistic worries about past and future situations as they fail to live and appreciate what is happening in the present. They are constantly agitated and might also end up avoiding certain situations or places that might trigger such episodes. If this is not enough to deal with, individuals suffering from anxiety experience tremendous physical effects such as shallow and shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, chest pains, and shaking, among many others. It is very difficult dealing with all this pressure and soldiering on with daily chores and routines. Most of the time it’s exhausting, frustrating, and debilitating. How does one manage all these overwhelming feelings and emotions? It is hard but not impossible.
The following are simple techniques one can use on a daily basis when experiencing an anxiety attack. Grounding and breathing are key techniques in such situations. Count till four as you breathe slowly through the nose. Hold your breath on four counts and then slowly release through the mouth on six counts. Tell yourself that you are relaxing and that everything is going to be alright. This can be repeated for several times. It is also very important to ground yourself by identifying five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
Changing one’s lifestyle or making long term changes can also help with anxiety. Involving yourself in activities that you enjoy and spending time with your family and friends will definitely help. Going to therapy is also beneficial and keeping a healthy lifestyle is very important. These are just a few ways of how to deal with your anxiety. Your therapist can help you identify your triggers and work on them in a very safe space. And it is alright if medication is needed too.
Different medications are taken for different illnesses, so why not for an anxious brain? There is nothing wrong with you and you can definitely do it. Acknowledging the fact that we have to face the monster is the first step towards managing it and not allowing it to take over our whole being and our whole life. Reach out, practice techniques, challenge it. Whatever you do keep in mind that your anxiety and you are not one and the same. You are stronger than your anxiety and even though there might be pitfalls and you may fall, you stand up, dust off and keep marching on. Breathe. Smile. Life is beautiful.