I have been in a discussion with someone this week about anxiety and how she feels it on a daily basis, often needing alcohol to calm herself down. It reminded me of my own bout of anxiety-related issues during my early twenties. There is absolutely no doubt there is nothing scarier than feeling as though one is going to faint - especially when you are driving, or are in some other compromising position. Which, for me was driving on fast-moving highways and standing in lines. I know I have talked about this before in this forum, but I believe we are living in times where we are going to see more problems with nervous disorders.
I don't think this is rare in our world. We have plenty to be anxious about. All we have to do is turn on the news and read about all of those blackbirds falling from the sky in Arkansas. But what can we do to alleviate the symptoms? How can we deal with this debilitating issue?
There are different types of anxiety disorders, but the one I'm talking about today is GAD - or General Anxiety Disorder. It's symptoms are also very generalized, such as:
- Restlessness or a feeling of being "keyed up" or "on edge"
- Being easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating or a sense of your mind going blank
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty sleeping
- Trembling, twitching, muscle soreness
- Headaches, sweating or chills, nausea, dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Being easily startled
I think it's safe to say, we all experience at least some of these symptoms at some point in our lives. But what if we feel these symptoms most of the time? Do we have to take drugs to calm ourselves down? In some cases, especially when the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine are involved, that may be the case. But in my case, it was more a matter of getting myself out of a situation that made me feel trapped that eventually alleviated the symptoms.
Which is what this post is all about. I'm not a doctor, nor do I profess to know all the answers, but if you are feeling these symptoms, maybe you could try one or more of these coping mechanisms:
- Diaphragmatic Breathing, and changing one's thinking patterns. Slow deep breaths, followed by replacing unwanted, scary thoughts with pleasant, calming thoughts. I use a mantra of all the things I have to be grateful for, which works for me when I have unwanted thought patterns.
- Meditation - it has been scientifically proven that our brain chemistry changes during meditation, but that is a post in itself. Maybe my next one...
- Exercise - single bouts of exercise, whether intense or not, has show to be of benefit for mental health hours afterwards.
- Nutrition - stimulants, salt, preservatives, hormones in meat, and sweet, refined foods can all play havoc with anxiety. Soda water (not sodas - soda water) actually helps relieve symptoms, and foods such as whole grains, asparagus, garlic, wheat germ and many more help with the symptoms of anxiety. Not to mention making sure you have enough magnesium, calcium and B vitamins.
These are a few ways we can care for ourselves during difficult times. I think I'll do a post on all of the new science surrounding meditation at another time. The bottom line is we can do many things to make our lives more livable and reduce the stressful causes of anxiety. You may have a few ideas of your own. Care to share?