In through the nostrils
Out through the mouth
Breathe breathe breathe
Shake your hands
You can beat this
Pounding pounding pounding
In your chest.
Don’t keep looking out the window
Its too tempting and besides-
You are on the fourth floor.
Okay, if you have to leave the room
Only for a moment. Go out the door.
Down the hall, splash your face.
Look at yourself in the mirror
The water dripping dripping dripping
Mingling with the sweat from your hot flashes
The drops hit the floor
You can beat this
You can beat this
Run, quickly, to the nearest stall before
You puke on the floor
No one ever died from retching (right?)
Feel the cool porcelain on your cheek
Stare at your pale green face in the mirror and laugh
Laugh so hard tears roll down your cheeks
Slap the sink and laugh until you realize
You are still alive
– Michelle Green
Anxiety is a normal way for our bodies to respond to stressful things, but it can also become overwhelming. It can occur with specific fears, after trauma, or with with social situations to the point that it interferes with daily life. Almost one in five individuals will experience some form of anxiety this year, and of those almost a fourth will be classified as ‘severe.’ (NIH, 2017). Though it is fairly common; many people believe that they are alone in the struggle and/or that there is nothing they can do about it (see above poem written by someone locally). The good news is that there are several things that have helped many people when used consistently over time. Here are a few:
- Sleep Well. Anxiety often affects sleep quality and poor sleep can make anxiety worse. Check out the links below for details on healthy sleep, diet, exercise and stress management routines that can impact your sleep. In addition to replenishing brain chemicals that help depression and anxiety, sleep also helps your immune system and many other processes your body manages daily. For more tips on sleep quality, click here to read our article How To Get Better Sleep.
- Practice Breathing and Mindfulness. Over time this can remind your body to slow down when it is running away with anxiety. Try several apps to find one you like. Headspace allows you to use many of the basics for free.
- Avoid CATS (Caffeine and cannabis, alcohol, tobacco and sugar). Yes energy drinks are included. All of these may seem to help, but in the long run work against making positive changes.
- Talk With Someone. For a lot of people this is one of the hardest but most effective tools. Sometimes just knowing that someone is carrying the burden with you is enough to help move forward or to learn a new tool.
- Track Progress. Anxiety in all its excessive forms feels like it is something happening to us. By tracking progress we can see what has been helping and keep moving forward. Over time this helps to reset the body’s alert system to levels that still help us respond to danger but not over-react. Try to remember that, in most cases, excess anxiety has developed over time and it will take time to develop new habits to replace anxiety habits.
- Medication. The not so good news is that medications often have side effects and/or work only for the short term. The great news is that they can also bring anxiety levels down long enough to be able to work on tools that bring more permanent solutions.
- Self-Care and Gratitude. To some this seems like a “no brainer” but this is often overlooked when an individual is in ‘survival mode’ with out-of-control anxiety. Jotting down things for which we are grateful can actually help occupy the brain where worry and automatic negative thoughts used to be in control. It is also essential for resilience.
A final word: If your anxiety is interfering with daily life, it may be time to come in and talk. No two people are the same so it is important to be able to adapt tools well to individual needs. Remember, this type of visit is included in DPC membership and….you are worth it!
If you’d like to find out more about the DPC benefits we can provide, click here to contact us via phone or email. You may also sign up for our monthly newsletter if you found this article helpful.
To your health,
Donna Samuel L.M.S.W.
Anxiety Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2017, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
Cooper, C. (2015, February 02). Too much exposure to smartphone screens ruins your sleep, study shows. Retrieved September 07, 2017, from http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/too-much-exposure-to-smartphone-screens-ruins-your-sleep-study-shows-10019185.html
Meditation and mindfulness made simple. (n.d.). Retrieved September 08, 2017, from https://www.headspace.com/
Sleeping Well. (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2017, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/getting-better-sleep.htm
Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2017, from http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips