Your phone vibrates and you glance at the name that pops up. It reads the name of your best friend whom you have screwed up with big time. Your heart begins to race as you reach for the phone to see what they had to say. Just as you begin to open it, your phone dies. No charger in sight. Now your heart is really racing and you even begin to sweat a little bit.
"What did they say?" you think. "Did they say that they will never forgive me and our friendship is over? Did they say that they now were going to spread rumors around school about me?" Your mind jumps to outrageous conclusions.
You may not suffer from an anxiety disorder, but that does not mean you have never experienced some sort of panic attack. There are a lot of reasons people get panic attacks that are normal to have. In fact, sometimes the abnormality is that a person does not feel anxious in a very worry- provoking situation. The issue that can arise from a panic attack on an individual who does not normally experience them, is that that person also does not know how to handle it properly.
No, I am not happy I have chronic anxiety, but I am very thankful for the numerous ways I have been taught to cope with it when my body throws me into that "fight or flight" mode. Because I have been given many ways to handle it, I decided that it would be beneficial to share these tips with those of you who do not know any ways.
Let me start out by saying that not every coping skill works for everyone. If you are experiencing an anxiety attack and decide to refer to this article, try out one trick, and discover it has no impact on your anxious level, do not stop trying. All the skills I share with you might help you, or maybe just one and that is okay! A big thing people need to realize is that everyone copes with situations differently. I might handle the death of a close relative extremely well while another person might handle it very hard, even if we were the same level of "closeness" to them. It is the exact same when it comes to coping with anxiety or depression. With that being said, here are a list of wonderful ways to calm down and breathe.
Okay before you see the first one and think I am going to make you workout super hard and become a bit of a gym rat, that is not what I am suggesting (unless you want to do that because that is totally cool.) It is really good to just go for a walk, possibly jump on a trampoline, ride your bike, or dance! Any way you can get your heart rate pumping for an active reason rather than a mental reason works! I find this really helpful because you can channel your mind's aggressive energy into your body's not-so-aggressive energy! It would also really help you to feel good about yourself after getting a little workout in!
Surround Yourself With People
Often when I am having bad anxiety, I seclude myself. I sit alone in a quiet place, normally listen to some depressing music, and I let my heart race as I come up with outrageous situations that could happen in my head. When my anxiety and depression was at its hardest point, these were the times I would think about how pointless my life was. I'd think about what would happen if I did end it right there. "Who would care anyway, right?" I would think as I wallowed in my self pity and hurt. Soon, I realized how unhealthy this was. Had I allowed myself to continue that habit, things may not have ended well for me! I started to call friends instead of sit alone. Even when I didn't want to be around anyone, I would just tell my friends I needed them to sit with me for a while. There are even times I don't say a word while I am with them, but having another person in my presence eventually eases my mind and I return to a normal and happy state of mind.
Listen to Motivational Music
This has become a very useful tool for me recently. My favorite music to listen to regularly is slow, usually containing some sort of deep overall meaning. Although this is totally fine, when I am having anxiety, it is not the best idea to listen to this music. The music we listen to can have a direct influence on our mood so it only makes sense that when you are feeling anxious or sad, you want to hear music that goes along with your emotional state! Don't do that though. Listen to music that will lift your heart up rather than tear you down! (I personally suggest looking up some type of playlist consisting of old songs that used to play at school dances.
I never really thought this one would help me considering I AM A HORRIBLE ARTIST. I mean, I grew up drawing people as stick figures and that was the best I could do- I thought. I then bought a little journal, looked up how to draw some things on Pinterest and realized that it doesn't take a professional artist to express themselves through art! I began writing poems, drawing pictures, and writing quotes I liked in a journal. I'd even make the stuff I write look all fancy and before I knew it, my mind would be so focused on what I was doing in my journal that my anxiety would vanish!
Text a Close Friend
Sometimes just recognizing that you have a strong support system is beneficial. When you are experiencing anxiety, you jump to so many outrageous conclusions and sometimes texting a friend and telling them what is going on in your mind will help you see how unimportant what you are panicking about is, or maybe they can help you see that. Otherwise just texting your friend and telling them you need a pick-me-up helps because people are more willing to help you than you may think! Plus, if you don't have a friend that is there for you when you ask for help, are they really that great of a friend?
Look Up Meditation/Relaxation Exercises
There are a ton of apps that contain outstanding videos for meditation for free. If you don't have a smartphone or simply don't want to download a new app, Youtube also has a ton! Just type in exactly what you need and I'm sure you'll find a video you like! These help you become aware of your surroundings and bring you back down when your mind feels like it has escaped you.
Watch TED Talks/Sermons
This is a little two-in-one deal because you are diminishing your anxiety while also learning! HOW FUN, RIGHT? There are so many talks with a variety of lessons so finding one that interests you shouldn't be difficult! I find these help because rather than thinking about your current situation, it forces you to focus on the topic the speaker is discussing. I also really enjoy watching sermons and devotional videos because they remind me how important it is to see how God has me.
Recognize That God is There
For me, this is the most important. For years I would try coping with my anxiety attacks alone. I would pray about my day before bed, but would totally put God to the side when I was struggling- but God is here for me AND YOU! I recently read a passage that discussed the importance of using God as your shield to protect you. I got to thinking and realized that a soldier would not go into the war without his strongest weapon, so why would I battle my anxiety without literally the strongest weapon of all? THE SHIELD OF THE ALMIGHTY FATHER!
Smile, Take a Selfie, See Worth
Even when there is nothing in your life worth smiling about, a picture is always a good reason to smile. Ladies, put that new shirt on, wear those earrings, do your makeup, take a selfie, and let yourself feel confident. Boys, test out your new kicks, pull out your best shirt, take a selfie if you want without feeling like your "bros" will judge you, and feel your confidence and overall happiness rise!
It's okay to have anxiety. It's okay to feel like your life is falling apart sometimes. It's okay to feel lonely. It's okay to struggle. It's okay to be vulnerable.
It is not okay to let yourself sink. It is not okay to wallow in self pity. It is not okay to waste time in your life being hurt. It is not okay to let anxiety win this time because you are a fighter and I believe in you.
We all go through challenges in life that test our character and our strength. Whether your challenge is anxiety or not, the important thing is not how or why it occurs, but how you will handle it. Just have faith in yourself and God that you will rise and I promise you will. It just takes a little work and an open mind.