Anxiety is a completely normal emotion. People often feel anxious right before they try something new for the first time, take a test, start a new job, go on a date, etc.
But here I am going to talk about anxiety when it could be classified on the border of a disorder. Generally this means, your anxiety doesn’t start and end at a normal rate. The feeling doesn’t get better overtime and may even worsen, no matter how many times you perform the same activity.
Some symptoms of anxiety include:
- Excessive worrying
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle tension
- Nausea or digestion issues
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
I have experienced all of these symptoms. There are also different categories that fall under Anxiety. They include but are not limited to:
- Social Anxiety ( most common )
- Panic Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Separation Anxiety
- Body Dysmorphia
I do not have experience will all types of anxiety. Social anxiety for me as an introvert, is pretty normal. It doesn’t necessarily affect my life in a way that I use coping mechanisms to fix it, BUT I will give you some tips if you feel your social anxiety has too much power. However, there is one in particular that has progressively gotten worse for me, which, the realization of gave me a bit of a scare and forced me to work on it. It falls in the Phobia category and it is Claustrophobia.
A phobia is a fear. Most phobias are born in children and are carried with you into adulthood. One of the most common phobias is claustrophobia- the fear of being enclosed in small spaces where one cannot escape.
If you think being locked in a small box sounds scary, it doesn’t mean you have a phobia. Most people would consider this terrifying. Usually people with this phobia have fears of elevators, rooms without windows, crowded areas, narrow enclosed stairwells, tunnels, basements, buses, airplanes, even cars. It can expand to the discomfort of wearing too much tight clothing, especially around the neck.
I have experienced anxiety and sometimes panic in all of these situations. Can you imagine, me, world traveler panicking every time I step onto an airplane? Talk about a dip in life quality. And since avoiding travel- or people- is not an option, I have to condition myself to work through it.
How to Cope with Phobias
- As much as you can, try to stay calm. Before an actual panic attack occurs, we have the opportunity to let the anxiety pass before we react.
- Try to distract yourself from the situation that is frightening you. Think about something else, have a conversation with someone next to you, read a book, listen to music with your earphones on, etc.
- Breathe. Take a deep breath, hold for 7 seconds, and slowly count to 8 as you exhale.
- Give yourself a pep talk. Remind your mind that you are in control of it. You are in control of your feelings. And you will now decide to think and feel the way you want to.
- Meditate. Visualize yourself without this fear. Think about the positive outcome you always have after this certain situation is over. Think about all the times you’ve already been here and were fine afterwards.
Lifestyle Changes to ease General and Social Anxiety
As with everything else for success- exercise, eat a healthy diet, drink lots of water and sleep at least 8 hours a day. A healthy body creates a healthy mind.
Meditate and/or practice yoga daily. It doesn’t do much help to only mediate when you are already feeling anxious because you will never reach your deeper self without practice.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol. Alcohol in fact causes anxiety disorders in people who excessively drink.
Talk with a friend or someone you trust about your feelings, worries and fears. Often times we think we are alone and no one understands us which makes the anxiety worsen. You might be surprised how many people are going through the same things as you.
Lastly, do not avoid what frightens you. Continue forward and conquer your fears. Even if it feels just as bad or worse overtime, you will be able to look back and say “look how many times I’ve already done this and I’m still fine.” It’s a mind trick. It’s not about your feelings at a certain point. It’s about what you can convince your mind of believing. We have to take the power back into our own hands and live freely.