Anxiety Flare Up – How I Cope

TW: Emetophobia

Over the past couple of months I’ve had a bit of an anxiety setback. Generalised Anxiety Disorder is a chronic condition and naturally there are times when it’s better and times when it flares up again. Couple that with emetophobia, a stomach bug and a weird constant indigestion thing I’ve had going on and my brain has just gone haywire.

A big part of coping with this kind of stuff, for me, is accepting what I’m feeling as “just anxiety”. I’m not dismissing it, the sensations are VERY real. Some nights I have panic attacks so severe that all the little muscles in my legs twitch as if I’ve just done 100 squats BUT accepting that it’s just anxiety and that I won’t vomit (my ultimate fear) I can begin to wind down again and relax. When I can’t convince myself that I’m okay on my own, having a phone call with someone else can help a lot. Most of my friends are aware of my phobia and GAD and are happy to talk me down from a meltdown at any time of day or night so I’m very lucky in that respect.

Day to day there are loads of practical things that I could (and should) do to help keep anxiety at bay. I know that limiting caffeine, particularly later on the day, can really reduce the risk of a late night panic attack. Sometimes it’s a choice between falling asleep at my desk or knowing that I won’t be able to sleep at night and therefore may get anxious. It’s a tough choice to make and usually caffeine wins out but since I’ve treated myself to a cute little cafetiere and beautiful fresh coffee I’m hoping that my morning hit will be enough.

For me, anxiety tends to strike between 10.30pm and 11.30pm so I have two choices, either fall asleep before then which isn’t always possible (see above) or distracting myself during that period. For the past month I’ve fallen asleep to either Family Guy or another Seth MacFarlane creation or Peep Show playing in the background. It keeps my mind busy enough that I don’t get worked up but they are shows that I’ve watched to death so won’t get too caught up in them. I know the advice around sleep hygiene is no screens in the bedroom, and if that’s what works for you then great, but I need at least background noise, if not something to watch when my brain is like this.

I’d love to be able to write that working out helps and on days when I’ve smashed it at the gym I feel serene and centered. The jury is still out on that one. Right now, as I sit here typing I’m sleepy and today was my first day back in the gym after over a week off. There may be a correlation and I probably will sleep well tonight but there doesn’t seem to be a discernible pattern when it comes to exercise and my anxiety. I have written in the past about it worsening my symptoms – thankfully since I stopped forcing myself to do it that seems to have dissipated – but I don’t think exercise soothes anxiety for me in the way I have seen it work for others.

Talking is great and it’s good to be open about mental health, we all know that, but avoiding talking about issues or triggers too close to bed time or when I’m in a little bit of a vulnerable place is a must. I recently had a panic attack at work that started while on the phone to a consultant, because two colleagues were having a really loud discussion about diets and “summer bodies” that included a colleague grabbing at themselves in the middle of the office. It can’t always be avoided but removing myself from difficult situations tends to help. If I hadn’t been on that call I would have made a point of leaving the room.

After finding myself in difficult situations or after a panic/if I feel one coming on I’ve started colouring in again. It really does help. It’s not purely a distraction because it doesn’t require much concentration but it allows you to let the thoughts drift in to your head and drift out again without engaging them or letting them build. As horrible as anxiety it is, it’s all caused by harmless thoughts. They only have power if you engage with them and believe them.

Do you have any tips for dealing with an anxiety flare up?

V ❤

 

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18 thoughts on “Anxiety Flare Up – How I Cope

  1. hannahinternational says:

    I often feel very lucky that my anxiety issues have been limited to very high-stress times of my life (final year of university and any time I am seriously struggling with money). Counseling helped me a lot, though I know this isn’t a long-term solution. For me, distraction techniques helped in the short-term, but only caused me even more stress and anxiety in the long run because I was just ignoring the things that were causing me stress. Writing lists actually helped really well, as did writing a journal about how I was feeling. It meant I could get all those feelings out, put it down and walk away from them.
    It’s going to sound ridiculous, but any time I felt an attack coming on I would sit and blow spit bubbles (gross, I know…I’m sorry!) and think about nothing but the bubbles until I calmed down. There was something very therapeutic about it for some reason.

    Hannah
    HannahInternational.co.uk

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  2. Rebecca Claire says:

    It’s good that you’ve identified the triggers for your anxiety (trust me it’s all the more frustrating when it’s always out of the blue for an unknown reason) and like myself you should probably try switching to decaf so you can still have plenty of coffee without the side effects of panic attacks. You’re also massively brave for sharing this and for being so proactive about getting past your anxiety 🙂

    Rebecca, libfemblog.com xo

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  3. Izzy Marie Hill says:

    Loved this!!! Mine seems to trigger in the late evening too so I’m the same and like to keep myself/my mind as busy as possible. If I’ve had a long day at work I can be absolutely fine you just never know. Funny I love sleeping to background noise too, I don’t care what other people say, if it works it works!

    Lots of love Izzy | http://www.adoseofchatter.com

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  4. Amy says:

    I have anxity to and it isnt nice at all so i know what your feeling! I love reading how different people get through it i loved reading your hunni!

    You are so brave for sharing this post im glad i wrote one a few months back made me feel so much better xx

    Amy, amyelizabethporter.co.uk xx

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  5. Charlotte lucy (@Charlotte_LucyG) says:

    I feel so much more in control of my anxiety now that I have started to take note of my triggers! One hint that helps me during a flare, especially if I’m out and about is box breathing you breath in for four, hold for four, out for four then hold again for four and repeat. It’s a ritual for me now and seems to really help!

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  6. Marc Lamberts says:

    This was such a thought provoking and important read. I’m going through a rough patch with my anxiety at the moment and although I’m not experiencing the same things you do, I found this very comforting. Thank you for sharing!

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  7. Hannah says:

    I’ve been looking forward to reading this post for so long – damn my busy life, can I just browse blogs all day? It’s really interesting for me to hear about how other people deal with their anxieties (I have social and general anxiety) and I think I might try a few of your tips (caffeine is the obvious one for me, but I’m so dependant that ironically, the idea of quitting makes me anxious).

    It’s also really cool to see how well you’ve managed to understand and thus deal with your condition. Really, really impressed with your ability to take this ‘objective’ view of things.

    H xx

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  8. Debbie says:

    It’s good that you’ve figured out what your triggers are. Since I’ve realised what mine are I find it a bit easier to deal with. I keep myself busy when I get anxious. Getting out the house for a walk really helps me. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Debbie x http://www.hellodeborah.co.uk

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  9. Cathy Glynn says:

    Oh bless you, anxiety can be a nightmare. I manage to calm my daughter down by cuddling her and talking. I don’t think there is any real remedy and what works for one will not work for another. I hope you find relief x

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  10. Musings of a tired mummy...zzz... says:

    I get the occasional panic attack, always at night but I am well practised in giving myself a stern talking to and thinking of the good things in life

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  11. Kara says:

    Mine seem to trigger overnight and I will wake up in a panic with loads of things racing through my head. I tend to try and focus my mind and relax but it is not always easy

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  12. ljdove23 says:

    I suffer with anxiety and it’s through the roof at the moment with everything that’s going on both personally for me and in the world. I find CBT works wonders. Xx

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