If you suffer with anxiety, then you know what it feels like to feel it rise. It can feel like you are going to have a panic attack, or a feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach. However rising anxiety feels to you, there are some important things to remember when it starts to climb to help you calm down, or at least deal with it in the moment.
I am not actually dying
If it feels like a panic attack is on the way, it can feel like you are really unwell, or like you are going to die. It’s important to remember that this is NOT TRUE. Anxiety lies to you, and it lies to your body. It’s literally body overreacting to a perceived threat. Fight of flight. So feeling like you are going to die is a natural thing to feel, it’s evolution telling you to be scared of a wild animal or an external attack. But anxiety rising because you are stressed over family, friends, school, or work, is not going to kill you.
And people are not out to get me
If your anxiety is more of a slow burn, it can feel like everyone around you is out to get you, or that they will never be supportive of you again. The truth is, anxiety is the biggest liar there is. It lies to all of us, and makes us lie to other people. Remembering that you do have supportive people in your life is key, but it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. When you are feeling calmer, try writing down some of the things that people have done for you in the past, the really really good stuff. It will help to remind you just how loved you really are.
I should get somewhere where I feel more safe
When your anxiety is on the rise, sometimes the best thing to do is remove yourself from a situation or environment and go somewhere where you feel comfortable and calm, in a familiar space. Taking a break from being around lots of people should help you to level out, and make sure you practice some self-care whilst you take a bit of time for yourself.
I can try a breathing technique
Keeping control of your breathing is one of the most important things to remember when you feel the anxiety rising in your chest. Try this breathing meditation to help you stay calm and collected. Give it a go every morning or every evening before bed to help keep an open and calm headspace.
If I can focus on something, I will feel better
Low level anxiety that exists consistently can, in many ways, be some of the most crippling. Often, this will develop into a deeper, stronger anxiety that can bubble up into anxiety attacks and more. Channelling that energy and focussing on something that will remove you from your headspace will help you to realise that this is not something that needs to last forever. Whether it’s a project, painting, watching your favourite film, reading, cleaning – whatever it is, make sure it’s something that you find relaxing.
I need to make sure I drink some water
Dehydration can lead to something called hypotension, or low blood pressure. Some of the symptoms of low blood pressure, such as dizziness, fast and noticeable heartbeat, headaches and fainting, are all really similar to the symptoms of anxiety. Making sure you stay hydrated can help to relieve the symptoms of low blood pressure, and you won’t feel like you are having a panic attack for no reason.
I need to get some rest in a calm environment
One of the kindest things to do for your mind and body when you feel your anxiety begin to rise is to remove yourself into a chilled out space, and spend as much time as you need to rest, and get your head back together. Going out, drinking or continuing to put yourself in high stress environments around lots of people might be able to take your mind off your anxiety temporarily but it really won’t help you in the long run, and these have all been proven to make anxiety worse.
For more advice related to living with anxiety, check out our mental health hub here.
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