Wanted: anxiety sufferers and those who suffer from anxiety attacks
Strange title huh? But, I can promise you if you suffer with anxiety and have ever had anxiety attacks it got you to click on this post! Why? As a mental health therapist one of the most common disorders that I work with are anxiety disorders and people do not know what to do for them. The symptoms of anxiety vary a great deal from each other. As with any general symptoms the words “anxiety” can mean different things to different people so I always start with defining each individuals’ anxiety. I hear of people suffering from “anxiety or panic attacks” but then are unable to really identify what happens to them during an anxiety attack.
So – let’s do some defining first
What is anxiety? Anxiety is essentially a fear of something/s, events, a series of life happenings that create sometimes incredibly handicapping symptoms and the irony is the events have not actually happened. What’s more is that they probably won’t occur or not in the exact way that way that you envision them. Also, consider this fact even if the event/s occur in the exact way you think about them, is it at all beneficial to experience a tragic event more than one time? I have to say no, how could it be? So let’s take a list of anxiety symptoms from the Mayo Clinic and look at it.
Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
- Feeling nervous
- Feeling powerless
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
To further complicate things for those who suffer with anxiety sometimes anxiety or panic attacks occur on a regular basis creating debilitating problems for the one suffering Panic/anxiety attacks involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). You may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, heart palpitations or chest pain. Often those with anxiety attacks feel as though they are dying, having a heart attack, “going crazy”, have “out of body experiences” and will frequent ER’s and MD offices looking for physical illness explanations that make more sense than “just anxiety”. Anxiety is a tricky bugger- it feels like you will die but thankfully anxiety will not kill you but it sure can create a great of problems.
A simple event such as your spouse not answering his phone may create nervous feeling following the out of control spiraling that can happen in an anxiety attack:
Oh no- he didn’t answer, he had an accident. Why isn’t he calling me back? He is dead, I know he is, what am I going to do? I have to plan the funeral, we can’t afford a funeral, who would come? We have 3 kids are a ton of bills, how will I raise these kids on my own, we will lose the house, we will lose everything. I won’t be able to survive the grief, how can I live without him? I will die or go crazy. The kids will be in foster care, they will all be separated and will all suffer their entire life, they will lose everything and not have a future and grow up to be drug addicts. Oh – wait – is that my phone? Oh he isn’t dead after all.
Wow- how stressful, how simple events can create such out of control thoughts that create our body to dive straight into fight/flight or freeze mode, increasing your blood pressure, heart rate, increasing adrenaline levels and other stress hormones. This creates havoc on your body over time not to mention your sanity.
So why would I entitle a post entitled wanted: people who suffer from anxiety? Simple answer, it can improve, you can learn techniques that can either eliminate or significantly decrease the debilitating factor these disorders can create in your life. I want to talk about using mindfulness for anxiety
If used correctly, Mindfulness is nearly infallible for helping to alleviate stress and anxiety. It is awesome for stress and anxiety management. So what is it? Mindfulness is a conscientious activity. It is an effort to do the opposite of what our brains naturally do. As we go about our days, our minds drift from here to there with no connections, and we think about any number of things besides what is going on in the exact moment you are in. When you’re being mindful, you actively work against this natural process and possibilities are endless. We can practice mindfulness at home, when we are idle, at work and virtually anywhere you are. Unfortunately, the ability to be mindful is not something we’re born with but the good news is we can learn in and practice it. Like most skills, it must be developed and modified to fit your individual needs. However, mindfulness is amazing because you can practice it anytime you want. Mindfulness and deep breathing are my absolute favorite coping skills for anxiety because you can practice ANYWHERE! At first, you’ll find that your mind wanders like crazy. It’s difficult to quiet your thoughts. This is completely normal and happens even to those of us who have been practicing for years. Try to quiet your mind and focus on your sensations for even a few minutes- you can increase the time as you go. View anything as an opportunity to be mindful. Practice mindfulness while walking, cleaning, and showering. Just notice the sensations you see, hear, feel, taste etc. Be aware of the exact moment you are in, the only one you can possibly exist in. Once you begin to practice, it will become easier to keep your thoughts in check for longer amounts of time.
Being mindful means focusing totally and completely on the present task and present moment without any judgment- just being aware of it.