Your Guide to Coping With Severe Anxiety

17 tricks for keeping yourself calm and collected

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Your Guide to Coping With Severe Anxiety

Photo by Molly Gubbels

Photo by Molly Gubbels

Photo by Molly Gubbels

Molly Gubbels, Entertainment Editor

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Anxiety is a problem that plagues most everyone in the human race at some point in time. However, for those select individuals who have medically diagnosed anxiety, the effects are often magnified. I am a standing example of one who experiences severe anxiety and panic attacks. Over the course of my 17 years on this planet, I have come to learn a few things about my condition and how to keep it under control. So, this one goes out to all of you who are struggling in silence and are in need of ways to cope with a problem that too often goes unrecognized.

  1. See a professional. If you have the flu, what’s your first course of action? Of course, you see a doctor to get you the help you need to be healthy again. The same is the case for any mental disorder and, in this case, anxiety. Your anxiety is caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain. This means that if you don’t seek help to balance these chemicals, there is less likelihood of becoming healthier over time.
  2. Figure out what triggers you. It’s nice to have techniques to help you pull through a panic attack, but you need to be able to address what’s setting it off. If you can figure out what it is, the chances of fixing the problem could become numerous.
  3. Figure out what you need. This can be anything from isolation to companionship to a mixture of both. In my experience, I have found that having company around puts me at ease because I am no longer alone in my current situation. However, many find that isolation, solitude and quiet time to think things over is the better cure for them. It’s all about finding out which of these you need and obtaining it.
  4. Understand that you cannot control everything. This is relatively self-explanatory, but for people with anxiety, it’s not always an easy concept to swallow. Not everything can be so easily controlled by you and it is not your job to take on the weight of every situation. Let someone else help you and give up control to them.
  5. Do not try to make decisions. When you’re anxious or panicking, at least in my case, your mind goes into fight or flight mode and is not the most reliable. If there are people you trust around you, try to get them to help you by making some small decisions for you. This could be as easy as them deciding what to have for dinner, but don’t let them make too important of decisions because you could wind up with hot pink hair and a tattoo of Steve Buscemi on your left arm.
  6. Make a plan. I know you’re probably thinking that this negates my previous point, but hear me out. Find something to look forward to whether it be something as small as picking your favorite food for lunch or something as big as planning out your wedding day (guys might not feel this one as deeply as us gals). Having something to be excited about keeps you from worrying about things you can’t control.
  7. Distract yourself. This is a really easy one for me because I am quite possibly the most easily entertained human in the world. Do something that will take your mind off of whatever is causing you anguish. Some people might suggest turning to music, but I find that music can be a little too emotionally triggering at times. Cartoons are a great distraction because they’re usually funny or stupid and put you in a better mood.
  8. Take a drink. This doesn’t include energy drinks or anything with lots of sugar. I find that a nice glass of water or perhaps some tea are good choices.
  9. Breathe. I know that’s the cliché solution to anxiety, but it truly does help. Try to find a breathing

    Photo by Molly Gubbels

    Photo by Molly Gubbelsroutine that calms you down and roll with it. My go to is 4×4 breathing. This is where you breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds and breathe out through your mouth for four seconds.

  10. Take a bath or a shower. Sometimes just having a relaxing environment where there are warmth and calming scents (i.e. bubble bath) can have a very soothing effect.
  11. Go outside. Fresh air is always a good solution if your anxiety makes you feel claustrophobic inside of your own body. Just taking a short walk throughout your neighborhood or reading a book outside can bring you back to reality for a second.
  12. Write it down. This is a really big one for me because writing is my greatest release. Sometimes allowing your emotions to fall onto a page humanizes them. Once everything’s down on paper, you can hang it up so you can see all the things you’ve overcome or you can burn them, thus metaphorically restricting their power over you.
  13. Laugh. Laughter truly is the best medicine. Find something that makes you happy or makes you laugh. For me, this is videos of dogs on Facebook, but, of course, results may vary.

    Photo by Molly Gubbels

    Photo by Molly Gubbels

  14. Call someone you love. If you’re someone that needs solitude and isolation when anxious, this step
    Photo by Alyssa Callaghan

    Photo by Alyssa Callaghan

    might not help you as much as it helps me. Whenever I get worked up, my first reaction is always to call my best friend. Assuming he isn’t too busy, he’s usually able to calm me down by distracting me and providing a familiar voice that brings me back to an idea of safety and comfortability.

  15. Let yourself feel your emotions. This one can be tough, but I urge you to cry when you need to and scream when it’s necessary. Don’t let yourself fall into full panic mode, but know that if you bottle up your thoughts and only allow yourself to know about them, they will eat you alive. So, don’t be afraid to cry it out or punch a wall or whatever it is that lets you feel some kind of release.
  16. Take a break. If you are uncomfortable, anxious or flat out panicking, take a step back and try to take as many steps as you can to calm down. If you’re in class, ask to go to the guidance office. If your mental health is at risk, Sherman’s March to the sea can wait.