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March 2016

Lifestyle

MANAGING ANXIETY: MY 4 TECHNIQUES

March 13, 2016

I never knew what anxiety was until I started to suffer with it. A lot of people relate anxiety to conditions like depression and other mental illnesses, but for me it’s a physical condition that really affects my life in a way that having a broken leg or any other physical injury would.

I haven’t been to see a doctor about it because I’m travelling so instead I’ve been trying out different ways to manage my anxiety and have seen some positive results which I want to share with others as I know how frightening and upsetting the condition can be, and I understand the how hopeless it can make you feel.

It’s not going to be with you forever and that’s something you need to believe in.

HOW IT STARTED

As some will know, if you have read my blog, I quit my job as an air-hostess and moved from Dubai to Bali, Indonesia. About one month into my move – on September 12th 2015 to be exact – I was in a supermarket doing my weekly shop for food with my boyfriend and I had a very severe panic attack.

It started with heart palpitations that really caught my attention and I started finding it hard breathe; my hands and lips felt tingly and my body was pumped with adrenaline which made me feel like my heart was beating really fast. It was one of the most terrifying feelings I have ever felt and it took me about 45 minutes of sitting on the shop floor with my boyfriend calming me down to get up and get back home.

The way I would describe a panic attack for me is a sudden rush of adrenaline which causes you to think irrationally and in turn causes your body to initiate the fight or flight response. I actually thought I was having a heart attack in the shop – genuinely!

These are the types of thoughts panic attacks cause the sufferer to have and it causes feelings of intense fear like you are just about to die – another episode I had I was convinced I was having a stroke, hilarious thinking back now! The release of chemicals the body produces in order to cope with this sudden fear effects your breathing, your heart, all of your senses and your ability to think straight.

After this ordeal I was pretty much bed-ridden for 8-9 days. I was crippled with this strong feeling of what I now know is anxiety. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without feeling like I was about to pass out as I couldn’t regulate my breathing and was finding it really hard to breath normally without concentrating on every breath.

I was shaking, lost my appetite and would just lie in bed feeling strong “zaps” of panic flow through my body like electric. Then after I’d say the 8th or 9th day I started to relax a little more and regained my normal breathing pattern which allowed me to start recovering, but the deep rooted anxious feeling in my stomach has never left me.

RECOVERY

That’s as bad as it has been for me and I didn’t want it to be that bad again so I started to look for answers online and found out that what I was suffering with was more than likely generalised anxiety disorder or panic disorder.

I’ve not been diagnosed with this, this is just going off my own extensive research into my symptoms, if you can see a doctor you should definitely do so, I will be getting a full examination when I am home in a few months to see if there is an underlying reason for my anxiety but for now I’m just trying to recover on my own.

It has been an upward struggle every day since the 12th September 2015 – I am still fighting with it 6 months on. There is not one day that goes by that I don’t feel the feeling of anxiety inside of me (in my stomach mostly). It is like the butterfly feeling when you’re about to go for an interview or about to go on a date, except a bit stronger. Occasionally I do suffer with my breathing but lately it’s a symptom that doesn’t really surface anymore unless I’m food shopping which is really weird.

I haven’t had a major panic attack since – perhaps the odd mini attacks but nothing as bad as the first one. But what has really helped me is that you have to try to find the positives in the condition otherwise you will never ever recover from it and feel normal again.

TECHNIQUES WHICH HAVE HELPED ME

Now I have shared with you my background on the whole condition I will detail what techniques I have found most successful in beating my anxiety.

1. Stop or Reduce Your Caffeine Intake

As everyone knows caffeine is a stimulant which “picks you up” and by definition caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant – a psychoactive drug which can alter the consciousness, mood, and thoughts of those who use them. I used to drink about 3-4 cups of coffee or tea a day and it was the first thing I cut out in my attempt to recover. Try to think of the little things in your diet that might affect your chances of recovery and wean yourself off them. I’ve not drank coffee since and I feel better for it – okay, so I might have had one or two cups in the last six months but that’s only because I’ve started to feel better but I do avoid it as much as possible.

2. Keep Busy

I know ignoring anxiety is usually a bad thing and causes it to get worse but I do think keeping your mind and body occupied with stuff like work or exercise or socialising etc. is a really good way to train your brain not to think about it so much.

I think that my lifestyle is really a big contributor to my levels of anxiety as I feel it worse when I am sat at my laptop all day doing work online. I’ve never been so stationary in my whole life I’ve always been on the go 24/7 with university, meeting friends, working weekends and then going to Dubai to work for Emirates as an air-hostess which was such a physical job, then suddenly I have this massive lifestyle change which puts me in front of a laptop all day – no moving, no socialising and no exercising. I do have a feeling that this might be the reason my panic attacks started and then escalated further into long-term anxiety.

But the more I keep busy the less I feel it, so I think it’s important to try and be as active as possible and stay positive.

3. SelfTherapy.org

This website and it’s audios really did massively help me. I came across this whole concept on Youtube when searching “how to cure anxiety” and I’m so glad I found it! When I was really bad at the start and my symptoms were really strong and overwhelming these Self Therapy audios taught me how to control the condition. At first I found it odd and I was feeling pretty hopeless with it all so I thought that this technique is not going to help, but I stuck with it and the audios teach you some really valuable skills on how to deal with feelings of panic and anxiety.

It’s very much like meditation, but different. It’s not about breathing or anything like that, but it’s about learning how to accept and tolerate the symptoms you have until they no longer overwhelm you. There are two stages – the first stage is the most helpful and you need to practice doing it twice a day and after about a week I felt that that strong feeling in my stomach which I have described had eased and that I was more in control of myself.

The second stage is about re-wiring your mind so it thinks like a normal person – one without anxiety. This I found was quite difficult and I really need to focus on this more, but I find every time I practice these techniques my anxiety fades a little more. These audios were created by a person who has suffered with anxiety and has beat it so it gives those who listen a chance to relate to it and really feel committed to it because if it has helped him then it must help others too.

4. TRE Exercises

TRE stands for Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises. I found out about this technique through someone’s blog post popping up on my Facebook news feed and again I’m so glad I found out about it! This is a very small work out that you do yourself at home in order to allow your body to release excess stress or energy it may be holding deep inside.

It was design by a professional called Dr. David Berceli and he developed it to help people with post-traumatic-stress-disorder such as ex-military personnel, child soldiers, victims of domestic or sexual abuse and finally those who suffer from conditions like anxiety, depression and stress.

It is a 7-step work-out mainly focused on your legs and what the exercises do is they tire out your muscles so much that they start to “tremor”. You then transfer these “tremors” all over your body causing you to shake involuntarily. It sounds very weird and I thought it was some sort of joke but it is very scientific and the videos you use to learn the exercises go into detail about how it all really works. However, from my understanding the tremors cause your body’s muscles to relax and this releases a natural hormone which relieves stress and tension, calming down the nervous system where anxiety emanates from and healing it.

This method has been the most successful in calming down my anxiety and I feel so good after a session which I do about twice or three times a week. I really do think it works and my anxiety has been so mild since I have started doing these. It takes a week or so before you start to feel any benefits but I highly recommend finding the time to try them – if I saw a difference someone else will surely feel the same effects!

You can find more information on the exercises here:

www.traumaprevention.com and www.bercelifoundation.org

You can also get the exercise videos from Amazon also.

Don’t Let It Take Over You

I’m not a person who really talks about personal things like this but when I was really suffering all I wanted were solutions – natural solutions – and I think that information like this is valuable so I hope that this has been helpful to at least one person who’s read this and that you see as positive results as I have so far. If you want to know more information about anything just comment below or email me, I’d be happy to help!

And to all those who are suffering with generalised anxiety disorder and related conditions stay positive and strong, it will fade away until you barely notice it’s there anymore it’s not with you forever.