A word that many of us(including yours truly) deal with. An anxiety onslaught can occur on a daily basis, although at times – they can be much less frequent. They can be minor bouts, that aren’t such a huge deal. While on the other hand, our anxiety attacks can be major outbreaks that are debilitating and rendering us at times incapable of undertaking the simplest of tasks.
Through most of 2020 and now into 2021, anxiety and other mental wellness issues and concerns are becoming more and more prevalent as people work to deal and cope with the ongoing pandemic.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any real answers to this. The only thing I can share, is that you are not in this alone.
I wrote this about a year or so ago, maybe longer on my journeys and struggles with anxiety.
I must admit that the last number of months or so, things have been really good for myself. The ongoing anxiety fights have been much fewer, to at times non-existent. All of which I find sort of weird(but in a good way), given that my job as an essential front line worker has kept me in the midst of the “need to keep yourself safe from the virus” deal since the beginning of this.
Nevertheless, I share this to encourage you that even though you may feel alone – you’re not.
— as always; with love —
You feel anxious; I feel anxious; in fact, we all feel anxious at some time or another.
Whether it’s the “big exam” coming up at the end of the term or that fast-closing deadline for a project at work or your first back-country solo hiking trip, everyone feels nervous or worried at times.
In reality, this type of anxiety can be helpful given that it can motivate us or warn us of danger.
On the flip side of the coin, an anxiety disorder can cause unexpected or unhelpful anxiety that seriously impacts our lives, including how we think; how we feel, and how we act in situations.
Health Canada estimates that one in ten Canadians is affected by some type of anxiety disorder. Given the population of Canada in 2019 was 37.59 million people, that one in ten ratio equates to approximately 3,759,000 people in Canada with an anxiety disorder.
Why am I posting on anxiety?
Because I deal with anxiety episodes generally on a daily basis.
The most acute occurrences tend to happen fairly early in the morning and while at work. It will continue to escalate, becoming more intense until my lunch break, which generally occurs mid-morning. Ninety percent of the time when my break happens, I take a minute to call Lynn to see what is new(nothing ever is new it seems).
Simply talking to her and it doesn’t have to be regarding the anxiety, but just talking to her helps in diminishing the anxiety and anxiousness to a more manageable level.
Continuing on, more often than not the anxiety episodes will subside until mid-afternoon when they sometimes, but not always ramp-up until I’m finished work later in the day.
At this point, I have not had a formal diagnosis of an anxiety disorder.
I have spoken in the past few months with my Doctor regarding what is happening.
But this graphic, pretty much describes where I am at.
I realize that everyone who deals with anxiety, whether they are being treated by a professional or plugging away on their own, is at a different place in dealing and or treating their anxiety issues.
Here are three tips I work at and try to implement when dealing with my own anxiety concerns.
I find that very negative/untrue or unsubstantiated thought patterns can enter my mind instantly, take root and completely distort the reality of the situation.
I’m trying to challenge those fears and negative thoughts by asking if they’re true(always they’re not true at all) and to then see if there are ways to take back control of my thought patterns.
For example, as I mentioned above my anxiety ramps up early in the morning generally getting more intense until I find the opportunity to connect with Lynn.
If I can’t get Lynn via text message or on the phone, my mind heads off down something similar to this type of rabbit hole:
- something has happened to her
- she is sick
- why doesn’t she turn that damn phone up
- she’s packed up and left
The usual case is this:
- was in the shower and didn’t know you called
- I was doing something with my own business and couldn’t get back to you
- I was on the phone with my Mom and didn’t do the whole switching between calls thing
- I didn’t hear the phone ring or the incoming text message beep. Lynn is hearing impaired by the way.
When all this happens, I try to remind myself that it is likely one of the above or something similar occurring as to why she might not get to the phone.
Take back control by challenging the negative thought patterns.
A lot has been written already and I guess much more will get written in the future on the benefits of breathing exercises in anxiety reduction.
Deep breathing is suggested as one of the best ways to lower stress in the body.
When you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain says, “good idea here” and then sends the “calm down and relax” message to our body. When your anxiety is kicking in, all of the things that occur, such as an increased heart rate, rapid breathing and higher blood pressure, decrease as you begin to breathe deeply to relax.
There are literally more specific breathing exercises than one can possibly imagine to help in the reduction of anxiety symptoms.
In the morning when the anxiety seems to be “doing its thing,” I try to find two minutes or so to complete “belly breathing” exercises. I find it helps to slow things down and become a bit more relaxed.
Belly breathing technique:
- Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position
- Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move
- Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out
- Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath
- Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise
I don’t often have time to complete ten cycles, but I do as many as possible.
Another one I read about is the 4-7-8 technique. I haven’t tried it yet, but I may give a whirl when at home
The 4-7-8 breathing technique:
Apparently, this exercise also uses belly breathing to help you relax. Practitioners of this one, suggest you can do this exercise either sitting or lying down.
- To start, put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest as in the belly breathing exercise
- Take a deep, slow breath from your belly, and silently count to 4 as you breathe in
- Hold your breath, and silently count from 1 to 7
- Breathe out completely as you silently count from 1 to 8. Try to get all the air out of your lungs by the time you count to
- Repeat 3 to 7 times or until you feel calm
- Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.
Deep breathing exercises help to slow things down and get you relaxed.
What are your triggers?
There is something that triggers anxiety episodes.
If we can identify what those “triggers” are, that goes a long way in helping to deal and manage our anxiety issues.
From what I’ve been able to read, the causes of anxiety and anxiety disorders can be complicated. Research suggests it’s likely that a combination of factors, including genetics and environmental reasons. It is also very clear, and I think obvious(at least to me) that some events, emotions, or experiences may cause symptoms of anxiety to begin or may make them worse.
These events, emotions, or experiences are called triggers.
Because we are all individuals with our own complex issues, anxiety triggers can be different for each of us. Although many triggers seem to be common amongst those of us dealing with anxiety issues.
Research indicates most people dealing with anxiety find they have multiple triggers. But on the other hand, for some people, anxiety attacks can be triggered for no reason at all.
Regardless, it’s important to discover any anxiety triggers that you may have.
Figuring out what they are is an important step in managing them.
For myself, most of my anxiety issues at this juncture occur when I’m at work.
I’m sure that there are underlying factors as to “why”, but for me, the trigger(s) seems to be my work environment. I don’t experience anxiety attacks or episodes for example on my days off or on holidays.
Nevertheless and unfortunately, the side effects of anxiety issues for myself are 24/7, as the graphic illustrates.
At this stage, I don’t have many options available to me in terms of career changes.
Because of that, I work at using the above coping techniques for identifying negative thought patterns and breathing exercises to manage my anxiety episodes and issues.
This post is not to be taken as the remedy to fix all anxiety issues for yourself or me for that matter.
If you’re dealing with anxiety or any other mental health wellness concern, you should always seek the help of a qualified medical professional first and foremost.
For myself, I try to practice challenging the negative thought patterns; breathing exercises and identifying the triggers as ways to cope at this stage. Some days I deal with the anxiety stuff pretty good. Other days, I just want to come home; hug Lynn; eat dinner and crawl into bed.
If you have an anxiety disorder, how do you deal with it or deal with anxiety-related issues in your life?
Thanks for hanging around and reading this.
— with love —
— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —