Written By: Brittney Waxman
I want to write about this subject not only for myself, but to make others aware that they are not alone. I suffer from anxiety and panic disorder, which has affected me immensely over the last few years. To constantly feel the dizziness, heavy breathing, heart racing, shaking, and more is a truly terrible experience.
Along with these horrifying symptoms comes the fear of dying, as it feels like there is no other rational way to think about it―especially in the moment. As if this wasn’t bad enough, I also personally began avoiding going out to places and endured a minor case of agoraphobia.
Thankfully, I reached out for help and was taught useful tools that will benefit me for life. As every doctor and family member would tell me, I needed to push myself in order to get better and, let me tell you, it is hard work. However, the reward and freedom is totally worth it.
You know that expression, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel”? Well, it couldn’t be more true. Having a negative mindset gives you a feeling of despair, which prevents you from seeing the light. But, once you change your thinking, you can change your whole world.
Here are some of the useful tools I have learned to help minimize my own anxiety symptoms:
1. Meditate for as little as 5 to 10 minutes each day (there are many videos on YouTube or apps you can listen to) to help you calm yourself down both mentally and physically.
2. Exercise, even going for a 20-minute walk, produces endorphins in the brain that help improve sleep and reduce stress.
3. Grounding techniques (another simple search on YouTube) are exercises that help to bring you in the moment.
4. Practice positive self-talk, which involves retraining your brain to think more positively and help rid yourself of negative thoughts.
5. Daily deep breathing exercises, such as inhaling for 5 seconds, holding for 5 seconds and exhaling for 5 seconds before repeating, can be practiced anywhere.
6. Find distractions like talking to someone, listening to music, watching TV or a movie, reading, journaling, using adult coloring books, and so forth.
If you are suffering from a mental illness, do not be ashamed to ask for help from loved ones and professionals. There is so much support out there, and you are not alone.
Recommended Self-Help Books:
1. “Hope and Help for Your Nerves” by Dr. Claire Weekes
2. “Panic Attacks Workbook: A Guided Program for Beating the Panic Trick” by David Carbonell
3. “The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook” by Edmund J. Bourne
4. “Mastery of Your Anxiety and Panic” by David H. Barlow
5. “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” by Eckhart Tolle
24/7 Help Lines:
1. 310-Cope (1 855) 310-2673
2. Gerstein Center (416) 929-5200