Dealing with anxiety

I have always been an anxious person. I remember being young and wanting events that were completely out of my control to go smoothly, and being upset when they didn’t. I have always been a people pleaser, so I try my hardest to make everyone around me happy and when I can’t do that I get anxious.
The thing about anxiety is, everyone experiences it, but different people experience it in different ways.
According to Merriam-Webster, anxiety is an “apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill… an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope.”
I have been working on being more honest with myself and with the people around me; so today I am going to be honest with my readers. I have been suffering from extreme anxiety for nearly my whole life, but it has gotten far worse in the recent months.
An anxiety, or panic, attack can be very frightening. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a panic attack is the “abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes.” Symptoms of an attack include accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking, sensations of shortness of breath and feelings of choking.
If you have ever experienced a panic attack, you know that it is not a pleasant thing and sometimes it can be hard to bring yourself back to reality. I don’t like taking medicine, so I have been trying different alternatives to coping when I am feeling very anxious.
The first thing that I have found to be helpful is taking deep, slow breaths. The deep breaths will help to soothe your mind and body by allowing oxygen to pour into every cell in your body. This helps to increase the functionality of every system in your body. Focusing on your breathing also helps to take your mind off of whatever was making you anxious. Deep breathes also help to relax your body, and when your body is relaxed you are more likely to be able to control your anxiety.
Distracting yourself is another way to help calm your body down from an anxiety attack. Most anxiety attacks are caused and fueled by anxious thoughts. By distracting your attention you can prevent those anxious thoughts, and you can also prevent voluntary anxiety attacks. If you are unsure how to best distract yourself, start off by counting, calling a friend or even rearranging things on your desk.
These are just a few things you can do to help prevent, or stop, an anxiety attack. I am not a doctor, and these are just basic-level things that I do to help soothe my anxiety.
If you or someone you know suffers from severe anxiety, get help. Asking for help is not always the easiest thing to do, but your mental health is so incredibly important and you should take care of yourself.
I hope these things help those of you who suffer from anxiety as they have helped me. I want you all to know that you are never alone in your struggles, and you are much stronger than you think.
Now, go outside and enjoy the eclipse.


This originally appeared in The Ruston Daily Leader


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