Health

Coping with Anxiety

Dobs

My cat is my biggest anxiety and all round buster!

Recently someone messaged me about anxiety and asked how I deal with it. The person noticed one of my Facebook status update regarding it.
It took me less than 5 minutes to go over different strategies.
I guess I could do it because I’m constantly practicing it.
Today must be the beginning of a seasonal change fever. In my case I really can’t afford a fever or a cold or anything close to that as it would trigger a seizure. So as much as I’d like to lie in bed and sleep over it I can’t afford that as I get sleep seizures under such given circumstances. (Yes, my health is quite complicated there)

My head started throbbing and I thought my brains might just explode or combust. I was alone at home and could not attend college either as I woke up with fatigue, body ache and my  right leg was already beginning to lose muscle control. I knew I was starting to transform into Rumpelstiltskin, most probably cause I was annoying my sister with his walk yesterday. (Should have seen that coming!)

By around 6 pm today I couldn’t find myself talking, I begin to slur and felt like my head was going to snap away from my neck. I got up and begun doing Suryanamaskars. I couldn’t last more than 5 minutes compared to my 5 hours of dancing or playing a sport I could do before. This left me worried further that something was horribly wrong with my body.

I had to stop and distract myself. I read…but it didn’t work cause I’m always reading. My cat was busy sleeping so I couldn’t play with him either. I sat for a while with the anxiety cloud over my head combined with a burning head. As I shut my eyes and meditated, I visualized it moving away from my head and told it to sit elsewhere. (Yea, I can make conversations with almost anything)

I opened my eyes feeling better but my fever was not leaving. That’s when my doorbell rang. Mom had returned from the clinic after some test. I took it as a sign that now that she is home I should go shower. (Which is something I don’t do)

I sat under the running water chanting for about 30 seconds before I got bored and developed a chill. But I knew it was more than enough. I call this ‘shocking the system’ – a similar process used when training in any sport. I’m glad I had that experiential knowledge so it came instantly.

While having my dinner I realized I should write this down for others and as a reminder for myself. I had my first anxiety attack around June 2007. I thought I was dying. I would hyperventilate so often I couldn’t talk. My psychiatrist had to put me on anti – anxieties though he knew I hated my meds. I was not on any other meds either as I kept refusing them.
I willingly took them as I really really really thought I was about to die any minute.

Since then I’ve not had them but Mr.Anxiety showed up 10 days ago and again leaving me in a very horrid state as it caused an internal convulsion while I was walking alone in my college campus in the midst of the afternoon heat. I immediately had to pop my ’emergency pill’ (not the one for pregnancy but the one to relax my system in case the convulsion gets worse). What happened after that is a 10 day story.

But here’s a few things one can do to deal with anxiety. Now I’m not calling them a disorder and I’m very much against any meds, but that’s my personal choice. It’s for you to choose what works for you.

For those seeking the non – medical approach, here are some pointers:
1. Anxiety is not uncommon. It becomes disturbing when it controls your life. It can be a good thing as it alerts us during an emergency and allows us to respond immediately to a situation. When this happens notice what changes are happening in your life.
2. Each of us might not be aware that we are being stressed about something. This is the first hard knock on your head telling you that you need to slow down and address your issues.
3. It’s ok to call a friend whom you trust and tell them. If you feel you are burdening them with your issue then write it down.  Maintain an anxiety/Health journal.
4. Food plays a big role here. Caffeine,  chocolates, chips, ice creams, alcohol, cigarettes, sugar,  starch are some on my list that i’ve identified which can trigger anxiety. What we don’t notice is we might be emotional eating these fellows out of stress and then BOOM! We get the anxiety showing up. LIST YOUR BAD FOOD AND GOOD FOOD.
5. Exercise is a huge buster and immediate reliever. It can be aerobic exercises or simple yoga.
6. Always keep 15 to 20 minutes (or more) to unwind yourself alone and do something you enjoy (art, reading, gardening,  dancing, playing with a pet)
7. Less is always more. The minute you emotionally eat or have a sign of anxiety you need to identify what to say NO to even if it includes friends, families or colleagues, work, studies or internship. Prioritize.
8. Relax. We assume that we relax when we are busy stimulating our senses…but we are only stressing our system.
9. Sleep cycles need to be consistent.

I’ve not listed all methods but these are just the top few.
What can you do when you are having one or know that someone else is having one:
1. Run on the spot.
2. Sit or stand with them in an open area away from people crowding them and help them focus on breathing. Some people get more anxious when someone is telling them while some are able to follow commands. It’s important that the person helping is calm.
3. Find nature and observe it. Animals and plants are wonders. Follow the natural smells, the wind,  the rain,  the sounds of birds,  dogs or cats. Focus on these.
4. You can cup your palms over your mouth and gently breathe. Focus on dispensing everything on your mind and chest.
5. Munching slowly on an apple or dry fruit helps some people. Let the person decide if they want it.
6. Make random sounds with your mouth (mimicking sounds around you or that of nature). I end up beat boxing when I get restless or anxious. Sometimes people find it odd as my face might tick or I might squirm and make odd expressions unconsciously. But who cares really about what people think at that time.
I let them know later. 🙂

Sometimes just reading or thinking that you might have anxiety can lead to having one. Never get overwhelmed.

©Reshma Valliappan

Kindly do not copy, use, steal, borrow or translate the methods here as your own. If you wish to share kindly do so. However, you do not have my permission to claim over the methods as it comes from a source I will refuse to share in the first place. Also, if you do – do keep in mind that you will face the wrath of Vajra 🙂 even if you don’t believe in the spirit world, you could test it out and see how it begins to haunt you.

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