Thursday, January 3, 2013

Just Relax.

Is it really that easy?

I'm someone with anxiety issues. I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in high school and though I think my coping skills have gotten better since then, there are days like today that show me that I'm so wrong.

I don't have panic attacks often. I'm talking about the pain in your chest, can't catch your breath, shaking, kind of panic attacks. When I do, I feel completely broken.

I have anxiety daily. It's so easy to just say "relax" or "stop worrying" but it's not that simple. Your brain learns how to respond to stimuli. When you experience the same stimuli again, your brain reacts in the same way. So these feelings of anxiety, this increased heart rate, this trouble breathing, this overwhelming claustrophobia, it's not something I can just turn off.

There is hope, I mean I learned to respond to stress this way. I can learn a new way to respond, but that will take time. That's why one of my goals this year was to "find and utilize relaxation techniques to cut stress." I want to learn to better handle it so the time when having too much stuff in a room, too many things on my schedule, or too little money in the bank won't cause me to lose an entire afternoon.

This month I am working on 3 ways to cut stress:

1. The first is to breathe. I get the feeling that I can't breathe, which adds more stress. So if I focus on taking breaths then blowing out slowly (like I'm blowing a balloon) will help me realize that I AM breathing. It gives me back control when my anxiety makes me feel like I'm out of it.

2. The second is to sleep. I find that I am more easily triggered when I don't get enough sleep. I need a set bedtime and need to unplug at least 20 minutes before going to bed. I need to stop making up for sleep by adding caffeine, that just increases my heart rate.

3. The third is to move. Working out 3x a week is another goal, but this is less about breaking a sweat and more about moving. I plan to do yoga, since that has worked to help relax me before, but even if I can't do yoga even a brisk walk can help my focus. I also need to focus on the movement during that time. If I walk or do yoga while mentally going over my to do list, it defeats the purpose. This is part of "unplugging."

I'm not saying these will work, I am obviously a work in progress, but these will be my attempts.


  1. I had anxiety attacks when I was in high school - nearly every day. For a long time I thought the school had asbestos in the structure and I was having an allergic reaction. I was never diagnosed, I just elected career center classes and got out of that building. My son has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I now know that is what I had, and am learning to cope with a lot of my own anxiety while helping him. You can do it, as I am sure you already know. I just wanted to encourage you.

    1. Thank you for your comment and encouragement. It's a really scary feeling, I thought it was all in my head until I was diagnosed and even now I'm figuring out just how much it affects me (things I thought were normal reactions... aren't always). I'm glad that your son has you to work through this with him.

  2. Have you ever tried visualization? It can be helpful.

    1. I haven't! I will look into that as well, it looks like a good way to get my body to calm down so I can stop the panic.


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