For my IG friends, I’ve been talking about my anxiety disorders and how they affect my day-to-day activities since I started opening up about my conditions. I realized that I haven’t shared what tools I use to battle them. Thus, I thought that maybe the habits and things I do to alleviate my attacks and to change my mindset ~might~help people too. As such, this two-part post.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional psychiatrist and the information I’m sharing here are based on two factors: a.) my experiences, and b.) the available resources my psychiatrist provides. Most of my practices are rooted from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy. In no way I am forcing anyone to follow them or saying this is the solution to anxiety! It is still BEST to consult a healthcare professional. Also, the anxiety disorders I refer here are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder. 🙂
Situation 1: I am feeling too anxious and too stressed out. What to do?!
- Whatever I’m doing, I stop doing. I go to a corner devoid of any noise or I plug my earphones on
- I close my eyes and focus on my breathing.
- I remind myself that I am HERE, and NOT in the past nor the future.
- I count slowly while taking deep breaths.
- Then I do a five-minute mindful sitting meditation. (https://palousemindfulness.com/docs/sittingmeditation.pdf)
- Or, if I’m feeling too jumpy for a sitting meditation, I do the walking meditation. (http://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/walking_meditation)
- After that, I acknowledge that I needed that me time. There is no need to feel guilty or judgmental. Everybody needs rest and breaks.
- If my meditations or breathing techniques do not work, I take my prescribed meds and/or tell a family member/friend to stay with me.
**It took me a while to get used to mindful meditation – my mind is often buzzing with worries, fears, and plans (especially when I’m manic!!!) – BUT, I kept on practicing. I recently reached a phase where it became automatic for me to do it whenever I can feel my anxiety levels are high.
Situation 2: I’m going to a crowded place. CROWD. Lots of people. How to navigate without launching into a panic attack?
- Days before the event/outing/trip, I make a ladder of situations. (https://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/FacingFears_Exposure.pdf)
- Then, I familiarize myself with the place. I identify areas where I can stay if ever my anxiety overwhelms me. I do this cautiously because I still have the tendency to catastrophize and to focus on what I should be. I remind myself that my goal is to push my boundaries but to respect my limits.
- Right now, I’m still in the stage where I cannot go to a crowded place alone. As such, I call/invite someone who understands my conditions to go with me. Being with a familiar face grounds me to reality.
- On the day of the event/trip, I pump myself. I acknowledge negative thoughts but do not dwell on them.
- Just in case, I have my emergency medications with me. I remind myself that if ever the need arises, I will take my medications w/ little-to-no self-criticisms. I’m a work-in-progress.
**My boyfriend helped me adjust to crowds a lot by inviting me to Ateneo’s basketball games last year. We went to five. By the last game, I lasted the whole four quarters.
Situation 3: I’m having a fibro flare/asthma and allergy attack!!!!
- For these attacks, I immediately alert my primary care (my immediate family or my boyfriend, whichever is nearby. They are trained by my doctors how to respond.) I know I cannot alleviate my situation alone.
- On fibro flares: I identify which parts of my body are in pain, and rate them. If I rate the most intense pain 6 and below, I lie down and do a five-minute mindful breathing. (http://www.mindful.org/a-five-minute-breathing-meditation/) Then I allow myself to rest. If the most intense pain is a 7 and above, I ask for my meds, do the meditation, and rest.
- On asthma and allergy attack: My goal here is for the attack not to escalate into a full-blown anaphylaxis shock. After taking my prescribed medications, I close my eyes and remind myself that I am still here in the present moment. I may not be able to breathe properly and I maybe itching all over, but I will be alright. My primary care is here, ready to help me gain control over this situation.
For part 2, I will discuss how I manage my panic attacks, my general anxiety self-care, and what I teach my loved ones on how to help me handle these situations. Anxiety disorders are not only affecting the suffer but also the people around him/her.
Tell me what you guys think! 🙂