If you’ve ever experienced anxiety or a panic attack, you will be all too familiar with the horrible physical symptoms it brings. Sweating, shaking, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and the urge to vomit are just a few. Thankfully, for some people, a panic attack is a one off event, due to a real fear or a situation that warrants the body going into ‘fight or flight’ mode. But what happens if that initial panic attack turns into a regular event and brings on chronic anxiety? Too many of us are living with daily anxiety and regular panic attacks.
Those of us who live with chronic anxiety often do so because we are stuck in a cycle of worry. This can be endless mind chatter, negative thoughts, worrying about health or even a phobia that we feel could affect us in daily life. Sometimes, the worry can be about what other people think of us, how we are perceived in society. Often anxiety can stem from feelings of anger, low mood or grief. It can even be a side effect of a chronic illness or pain condition.
“Pull yourself together!”
Those who don’t suffer with anxiety don’t understand how much panic and anxiety can interfere with day to day life. Often we are told to ‘pull ourselves together’ by people who have never experienced the complex symptoms of anxiety.
Having anxiety can stop people from leading a normal life, they may struggle to work, to socialise, even to go to the shops. Sometimes an anxiety sufferer might cancel plans last minute, claiming to be ill, when in fact they just can’t face going out or seeing people, even if it’s something they would usually enjoy. It can make people feel irritable, and even argumentative. Anxiety can make you feel imprisoned.
Be gentle to yourself
If you know someone like this, be kind. Sometimes a little gentle encouragement and knowing they have your support can be enough.
“Fight or Flight”
If you suffer with panic, anxiety or worry, it’s important to understand that emotions are an integral part of being human. When you have anxiety, you can think that the way you feel is wrong, but emotions help us to respond and interact with life. If you were faced with a real danger, anxiety would be the right way for your body to respond; those horrible feelings do have a place in extreme emergencies!
Some people LOVE adrenalin, and their bodies use it in the correct way, which is explains ‘adrenalin junkies’. Unfortunately, anxiety sufferers sometimes experience anxiety instead of other feelings, such as excitement. Our adrenalin rises, causing all of the symptoms of ‘fight or flight’, and if we are particularly sensitive, then we start to panic.
Stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and sugar can also induce anxiety, so they are best taken in moderation, or avoided completely. It is all too easy to use alcohol as a crutch, as for some it masks our anxiety and makes us feel invincible. In the long run, this isn’t wise, and could lead to other issues.
There are a lot of different ways to help cope with anxiety. Seeking medical advice is often the first step for some, but for others who prefer a more holistic approach, there are a lot of alternative therapies that can help you to relax and rebalance the body. Reflexology is a holistic treatment where gentle pressure is applied to the feet in specific area, with the intent of balancing the body. In our experience at the clinic our clients find the reflexology helps to reduce their anxiety symptoms. Acupuncture is also very helpful to support anxiety conditions. Nicola Price became an acupuncturist after experiencing the benefits of acupuncture to help treat her own anxiety. Counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be invaluable, helping you to work out what is causing you worry and to work towards removing the negative thoughts and rituals that keep the anxiety coming.
Anxiety does not have to ruin your life. Let it serve as a reminder that there is still work that needs to be done. Remember, the goal is progression not perfection. It’s what I tell myself every day. 10 lifestyle choices that eased my anxiety.
Photo Credit: Wendy Conibear