As some of you will probably know I suffer from Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) as well as having emetophobia (a fear of vomiting) so I’m prone to panic and anxiety attacks.
GAD, for those who don’t know, basically means that I’m a chronic worrier. Things that the average person would worry about for a couple of minutes, like “did I remember to thank the bus driver?” can lead a sufferer of GAD to worry incessantly for a long time, to the point it interferes with work, and other commitments. It also leads to what’s called “worst case scenario thinking” so in the above example your worry could go from “the bus driver will think I’m rude” to “I must be a terrible person because I didn’t say thank you.” It sounds ridiculous but it really can be trivial things like that. A lot of the time for me it is slightly bigger things than that but my worry is still blown out of all proportion.
My phobia of being sick causes a more intense response than GAD but it tends to be shorter lived. It can trigger very full on physical panic attacks that sometimes take a couple of days to fully recover from but in the main the anxiety symptoms pass as soon as the nausea, or before if I can put some of the things I’m going to suggest below in to action.
1.Distraction – This is probably the most important thing for me in an anxiety attack situation. My go to distraction tends to be watching something funny that I’ve seen before such as Outnumbered, Friday Night Dinner, The Inbetweeners or Two and a Half Men. This allows me to laugh along with it and distract myself without having to concentrate too much on what I’m doing.
2.Getting outside – Naturally when you are in a panic situation you can feel quite trapped and even just standing outside can help a lot. I recently had a panic attack in a hotel room in London in the middle of the night. Even though I was staying an area that was strange to me and it was dark, getting out made me feel so much better (aside from getting slightly disorientated and thinking I was lost for a few moments) and I was able to calm myself down enough to get some sleep.
3.Talking to someone – If you are lucky enough, like me, to be surrounded by people who are understanding and you feel you can be open with them, then talking through your anxiety can be useful. Equally talking about something completely unrelated can help too by providing a distraction. When you’re feeling worried one of our bodies natural responses is to want to be surrounded by people so being around close friends and/or family can help when you’re going through a rough patch.
4.Writing things down – Sometimes in the grip of an anxiety attack it’s hard to switch your brain off. If you’re worrying through the night about things you need to do, try making a list of them so you know you won’t forget them.
5.Try to slow down and question your thoughts – It’s so easy for your mind to run away from you. Rather than letting your brain control you, question it. Your anxiety is telling you that something terrible is going to happen, “what’s the likelihood of said event actually happening?”. I’m willing to bet in most cases it’s highly unlikely.
Do you have any other tips of things that work for you when you’re anxious? Let me know in the comments.
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