Self Care

When Anxiety Attacks!

When Anxiety Attacks
Have you ever experienced anxiety?

Maybe it’s a once in while flare up, or an everyday burden, or maybe you’ve never experienced it at all. Whichever camp you fall into, I’ve compiled a few tips on how to overcome it in your day-to-day life. I hope this helps, and more importantly,
I hope you know you are not alone. 

Recognize it.

First and foremost: how do you know you’re having symptoms of anxiety or experiencing an anxiety attack (because quite frankly it can feel like you’re having a heart attack)? Well, I’m not a doctor, so I am not about to diagnose you – PLEASE see a doctor if you’re truly concerned about the symptoms you’re experiencing – but from my own experience, I can tell you what the symptoms I experience are like.

Physical

  • Heart racing or palpitation/flutters
  • Shallow breathing or feeling like you’re not taking in enough oxygen
  • Hyperventilation (often caused by the shallow breathing as you can be taking in too much air at a time due to overcompensating)
  • Tingling or numbness of fingers
  • Dizziness (a symptom of the hyperventilation – it’s a vicious cycle)
  • Achy joints or muscles or tension

Mental

  • Unable to concentrate on the task in front of you
  • Racing thoughts

Emotional

  • Feeling restless or fidgety, like you can’t just sit still
  • Panicked feeling – it’s that fight or flight response kicking in
  • Moodiness or low energy
  • Unsettled or wary

Like I said, these are just some physical, mental and emotional responses I’ve felt before in past bouts of anxiety. Everyone is different and therefore, the way anxiety manifests itself in any one person will be too. Know your signs – and if you happen to take note of them, know your triggers too!

Write it out.

Personally, I’m not very good at keeping a journal consistently throughout my everyday life, but perhaps you are. This is perfect! Take the time to write out how you’re feeling. If you’re unsure where to start, maybe try asking yourself these questions:

What’s going on around me right now (in class, on my phone, at home, at work, etc.)? 

Where am I right now? Am I in any immediate danger? 

What are the top 3 emotions that I’m feeling right now? 

Is there someplace I can go to excuse myself from my current environment (take a walk around the office courtyard, go outside with the dog for 5-10 minutes, cook something yummy, etc.)?

Is there someone that I can go to (or call) and share my experience with right now? 

Draw, paint, create!

Maybe you’re not the wordy-type, but you enjoy creating things by hand like drawing or painting something that inspires you, or tending to your garden. Great – go do that! Do something that doesn't require a lot of thought, but personally brings you joy. Click To TweetDistract yourself from the thoughts that might be racing through your mind right now, and go do something to release those endorphins.

Talk about it.

You know that as a future Social Worker and therapist, I was about to bring this one up. So before you get all up in my face about it, I’m not saying you have to go and talk to a professional. Could it help? Well, yeah. But maybe you’re not quite ready to take that step. What about a friend? A family member? A trusted mentor? I may be assuming here, but I think it’s safe to say that you going to talk to someone you trust is a good idea. And if you trust them, then I trust that they would be more than willing to talk about what’s going on with you and provide that much needed support. I think it's safe to say that you going to talk to someone you trust is a good idea. Click To Tweet

Get moving.

Okay…so drawing didn’t amount to much more than a stick figure holding something that looks like either a really sad cactus or a not-so-pretty cat, and you wouldn’t exactly say you’re good with words. What about getting up and going out for a brisk walk or jog around the neighborhood? Exercise, like doing something you love, is also a great endorphin-releaser. And the fresh air will definitely help you out too. So go, take a deep breath and tell yourself, “…it’s all going to be okay and I will get through this.”...it's all going to be okay and I will get through this. Click To Tweet

Get some rest.

Admit it. You’re not getting your full 8 hours of sleep like you should, and you just yelled at your roommate for leaving breadcrumbs on the counter top. Sheesh. We get it. You’re tired. Anxiety can also be spurred on from lack of sleep, my friend. Our bodies are like machinery, needing nourishment as fuel and sleep in order to replenish and recharge our batteries. Go to bed and let the day behind you, go.

Be patient with yourself.

Basically you’re like, “Um, none of these things worked for me. Obviously I’m just going to be this way forever, so what’s the point?” and it’s only been two days. This last bit is probably the most important key to dealing with anxiety or even an attack: be patient with yourself, friend. Anxiety can be managed, but it’s not likely to just go away – even if you did just paint a portrait that would rival da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. It will take time, and that’s okay. Just know that you’re not weird for experiencing what you’re experiencing, or even for not feeling better after a few days of self-care. Just know that you're not weird for experiencing what you're experiencing... Click To TweetYou’re completely normal and you’re going to be OK.

Did I miss anything?

What tips/tools do you use to combat anxiety or restore normalcy into a panic-inducing day?

Let me know in the comments section below!

Having anxiety isn’t easy, but it is manageable, dear friends.

Take some time to take care of yourself today, whether or not you’re experiencing anxious thoughts or feelings. I find that when I take the time in the present to address how I’m doing and feeling, it often helps me prepare better ways to manage when future stress and anxiety threatens to get in my way.

Some takeaway verses:

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’
    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy.”

Psalm 94:18-19

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

10 Comments
Leighann

Twenty-something, lover of Jesus. I like animals (esp. dogs), Fun-Fetti cupcakes and yoga. I love God and do my best to love others. I hate too-warm weather and socks that fall into your shoes when you walk. I'm a huge fan of Christian rap and cold, sunny days.

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10 Comments

  • Merissa Childress

    I usually watch something funny on tv. More than likely Big Bang theory. It’s hard not to smile at Sheldon or penny. I found your blog in a Facebook group.

    • Leighann

      Leighann

      That’s such a great way to combat anxiety! I agree – having something funny to keep your mind off of racing thoughts is so helpful during stressful or anxious moments. Thanks for sharing, Merissa!

  • Carlie

    This happens to me! I like to write when I feel like this. I keep a journal. It’s usually a pretty quick fix. Or I talk out loud to myself or go sit with my dogs! One other thing I remind myself to do is just breathe. Breathe very deeply, in and out, exhaling longer than inhaling. It helps!

    • Leighann

      Leighann

      Hey Carlie! Yes, those are great strategies for coping with anxiety – I love the cuddling with the pups suggestion! It’s proven that animals, especially dogs, are great therapy for people with anxiety and even depression. And yes, I wholeheartedly agree with taking the time to just breathe. It really does help regulate our bodies and minds when in any kind of crisis. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Chloe

    Stop and ask yourself why you’re feeling anxious and what you can do to change it. Identifying the anxiety can sometimes help alleviate it. If I’m worried about forgetting something then I make sure to write it down. Sometimes just writing down my feelings of anxiety to “save for later” helps. If I get anxious at work I’ll do this and tell myself I can resume being anxious when I get home.

    • Leighann

      Leighann

      Chloe, you are SO right! I also find that when I start to feel anxious about potentially missing deadlines or forgetting about upcoming events, writing it down is the only way. It can take so much of that unnecessary stress off and prevent full blown panic attacks/general anxiety. Pro-tip: if you have a smartphone, I find setting reminders/alarms to be tremendously helpful as well – thanks so much for sharing!

  • Tonia @ BasilandOregano

    Hi Leighann, First, let me just say you’re a beautiful writer! I love your site. It’s actually very comforting to know a fellow blogger suffers from anxiety, not that I would ever wish this on anyone. I was diagnosed in 2004 with GAD and a couple years ago it escalated into panic attacks nearly every day. Needless to say, I left my old profession and just recently got back into a project, my blog, and I love it. Writing and photography help me so much! I’ve also learned some other tricks along the way. I like hot lavender baths, watching the Disney channel, heating pad on my left side, TENS, deep breathing, and going for a walk along the water, among other things. Like I said, I wouldn’t wish this disorder on anyone! It’s horrible. I’m just so happy to feel like I have it under control again and I pray it lasts. Keep it up, girl. You are truly talented! 🙂

    • Leighann

      Leighann

      Wow, thank you so much, Tonia – that truly means a lot to me. I am so glad that this was something you felt you could relate to – and thank you so much for sharing your own struggle with me. I am so happy to hear that it has been under control lately, and pray that it remains so for you. Those tips are great, as well – I definitely hear you on the Disney Channel one (I love watching cartoons, personally – helps me relax and calm my anxious thoughts) and also about going by the water. That reminds me, I should probably plan a trip out into nature sometime soon! Thanks for sharing your blog as well – so glad that it has been a positive outlet for you and I look forward to reading more of your work 🙂

  • Kio

    I’ve been experiencing my share of anxiety lately. Everything you wrote about is absolutely true and helpful. I also noticed that breathing deeply for about 10 minutes or less also really helps. At least it helped me the other day 😀 Thanks for always writing so beautifully.

    • Leighann

      Leighann

      Oh, Kio! I’ve been praying for you my friend. I hope you cling closely to the Lord and know that you have a prayer warrior in California! So glad that deep breathing has helped you, even if only momentarily – and thank you so much for reading. Hope you’re having some good adventures abroad and meeting some cool peeps!

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