No matter how you put it, anxiety is a pain the behind. Period.
Anxiety is our fight or flight mechanism. Its job is to keep us safe from the “oh, crap!” moments in our lives. When things happen, the brain sends a signal to the adrenal glands to giddy up and start producing adrenaline and noradrenalin (a hormone and a neurotransmitter). This makes your body go into high-alert, like being in the woods camping when a bear decides to visit. That kind of high alert. Generally, this hyped-up feeling lasts for seconds or minutes, but not always.
Often, the feeling persists. Excessive worrying manifests with very pronounced physical effects. Your world is now on high definition. Sadly, you are stuck watching a terrifying movie. The range of symptoms can be scary. From a general feeling of uneasiness that takes over, to feeling that the floor beneath your feet is starting to move, it sucks. It is localized bullshit throughout your body.
When the high alert turns into a state of unfounded worry, you start feeling that you are about to be eaten by that grizzly bear, even though you are safe inside the tent, shotgun in hand.
You start feeling trapped. The feeling intensifies. The walls of your body are caving inward, closing-up. The world is rushing at you. Your heart goes into override. No, you are not having a heart-attack. Noises become pronounced. Your head feels like its drowning. Sensation of pins and needles in your hands. It could be tension across your shoulders. Perhaps it was a jolt of fear. Your chest feels like an elephant sat on it. Perhaps he came with the bear, who knows.
You could have that lurching sensation in your stomach as if an enormous fist grabbed hold of your insides. You could be burping and farting. Hey, it happens. You could see very bright lights, feeling of vertigo, shaking, racing pulse, and light-headed. It is possible that your blood pressure is all over the place. Your mouth may start filling with a sour taste. You feel helpless.
You are not going to die. It’s just that pesky little pain bothering you again: anxiety. Let’s get rid of her.
Now you take control. Realize that you are not in danger. You are not about to be eaten by a bear. His elephant buddy is not the one sitting on your chest. It is your stupid brain playing tricks on you because it has no idea what to do. But you do. Retrain your brain.
BREATHE. Slowly. Deeply. Gently. You can do this. Realize breathing doesn’t have to be a struggle. The floor beneath your feet is not unstable. You are not trapped in your head floating somewhere unknown and unsafe. Confront your fear. Give yourself a chance to discover that not a damn thing is going to happen to you. Back to the bear and the elephant: they are not real. Keep the shotgun handy, just in case.
Anxiety feels like your body thinks something is gravely wrong, but your brain has no clue what to do about it. Your brain acts like a new and inexperienced employee who rushes to make unwise decisions and jump into conclusions. Stupid conclusions further increase your overall bad feeling. You must stop this. Now.
Anxiety leaves people feeling like a multi car highway pileup. Nothing makes sense. It takes time to rejoin the world after anxiety caves in. Emotionally, people are a wreck for the rest of the day. Productivity goes down the drain. There’s a feeling of shame. Fear. Stop worrying! Accept that you have anxiety. You will not be the feast of a grizzly bear. Not today. The elephant sitting on your chest is not real.
Don’t beat yourself up for feeling anxious. Who cares what others think. It does not help you and exponentially increases your fear. Stop allowing those thoughts to race into your mind taking over in an instant. Rushing thoughts place you in a sort of psychosomatic limbo between a feeling of fainting and a feeling of dying.
Get rid of those panicky thoughts! You are bigger and stronger than this problem.
Here are a few things to do to keep anxiety from ruining your day:
- Exercise regularly: stop whining. Get up, get out, get active. Walk your dog. Walk your cat. Walk the bear and the elephant. I don’t care. Just be active. It helps relieve stress.
- Breathing exercises: do them. Don’t bitch about it. They help, especially when the shit hits the fan and your fight or flight response is taking over you.
- Eat regular meals: so, that half ass salad from the deli downstairs is not going to cut it. Find a better way to eat. Your gut plays a big role on your overall health and behavior.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and smoking: no fun, but you must. Put the big boy pants and stay away from them, especially if they increase your anxiety.
- Anxiety support groups: hey, talking helps. Knowing you are not alone in the struggle can be beneficial. Others might have useful techniques for when your shit hits the fan.
- Get professional help: therapy is not for crazy people. That’s real bullshit to believe. If anxiety is ruining your life, you can’t seem to get rid of the bear and the elephant on your own, some therapy will surely help. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy does wonders for people with anxiety.
When anxiety hits your body like a 5000-ton pound of steel: STOP. BREATHE. REGAIN. RETHINK. REJOIN. Quiet your brain. Letting it run at 150 mph won’t help you. Get behind the wheel slow it down, take control, and start driving.
Now that you are driving, you can stop those automatic negative thoughts that are fueling your anxiety. Your goal is to achieve calm and peace. Once you do this you will regain control of the anxiety and your body and mind will belong to you again. You will take over it, not vice-versa. You want to achieve inner peace. That is your warrior. That is your superpower against anxiety.
Embrace it. Meditate. Practice Mindfulness. Relax.