My eyes widen as my heart begins to race… there is an ache in my chest that slowly builds to an unbearable throbbing. The tightening begins; its origin is in my breast and then gradually creeps up to my throat. My esophagus tightens and constricts and my jaw takes on the weight of my efforts. My teeth clench as if I am trying to avoid the strep test at the doctor, and all the while, my heart races as if my adrenaline is warning me of a beast that is about to make me its lunch and I feel the undeniable need to flee. Run. Get the crap out of my skin immediately. Numb out. ANYTHING besides feeling the manifestation that has taken over my body and my mind; that is how I experience anxiety.
When I asked others how they experienced anxiety, the responses were similar:
“My heart races… I cannot sit still.” – Cortney
“I tend to hold my breath [when anxiety hits me].” – Lisette
“I always feel it in my stomach.” –Fiona
“My whole body cries with the urge to scream and my mind just stops thinking clearly.” – Danielle
“It feels like someone is holding my head under water and won’t let me up.” –Kasey
“I get dizzy and the world races around me.” –Ashley
“I just cry and I cannot stop.” –Katie
“My head “burns” or tingles so much.” –Sarah
“I get stressed and worried; I get an awful headache from the stress and I want to be alone.” –Tina
“I feel like I am failing at everything [in anxiety attack mode].” –Lauren
“I get the intense desire to be out of my body.” –Emily
Anyone feel one (or all!) of these symptoms at times? Anxiety manifests itself in many ways, and we are all unique in our experiences, yet we as humans can all agree that when anxiety hits, it can be hard to combat in a healthy manner.
Not only did I ask my peers to give me examples of how they felt anxiety, I also asked them to give me ways that they work through their uneasiness and imbalance in emotions; their answers were varied, but all can be summed up in one phrase: self-care.
“I use essential oils for the body, and a diffuser at night while I sleep.” –Melissa
“I use breathing techniques and grounding statements/mantras to help me.” –Lisette *Side note: my favorite grounding statement is God is with me, God is for me.
“My husband has a calming presence that helps me, but crocheting has been my savior in my battle with depression and anxiety. Just the focus helps me slow my breathing and it gives my hands something to do.” – Danielle
“When it is sunny, I love to go outside.” – Amber *ANY change in scenery is helpful!
“Pray, journal, walk… focusing on my kids helps.” –Ashley
“I try to focus on my breathing.” – Stephanie
“Healthy exercise, yoga, therapy… and sometimes medication is the only thing that can help.” –Jessica *Medication can be a healthy tool- talk to your physician further about options if you feel the need.
“I say the name of Jesus and speak Truth to myself.” –Amy
“Worship music and prayers often help calm me down!” –Tina
“If I am anxious with thoughts racing, I journal or make lists. Getting outside, cleaning the house, or calling a trusted friend helps.” –Karen
“ Inspirational quotes on Pinterest!” –Jodi
“If I can get to the root of what is actually causing it, I pray through that. Also, chocolate, wine, and yummy food! But nothing does what prayer does.” –Bethany *Amen, girl.
There are two reasons I felt compelled to write this post… number one: you are not alone. So often, anxiety, depression, and disorder can make a person fell like he/she is on an island alone, but in reality, so many people share the same feelings, emotions, and struggles that you do. Number two: hopefully you picked up some tips or tricks on how to combat anxious thoughts and feelings. From getting outside or writing, to human connection and spiritual connection, there are many healthy ways that we all can deal with anxiety without slipping into rituals and disordered behaviors that are toxic to our well-being. Take time to feel; let the waves of emotions hit, break upon you, and then slowly subside because they always will. Waves do not last forever, and neither does anxiety. Remember to take time for yourself and practice self-care when you are stuck; you are worth it, Fighter.