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4 Things That Help When My Anxiety Manifests Physically

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Just by looking at me, you would say that I looked just like any other person who walked this earth. But underneath that facade is an entirely different person. I’m a relatively calm person, except for my anxiety and panic attacks.

Now, there are differences. Anxiety attacks for me are provoked by a stressor, whereas, my panic attacks are unprovoked and unpredictable. My mind tends to worry about everything in my life, whether it’s my health, school or my loved ones. Usually I can calm myself down where I can avoid an anxiety attack, with the occasional one that I cannot. But with my panic attacks, it’s a different story. I will break out in a sweat, have hot flashes, feel my heart beating out of my chest and feel like something really bad is going to happen. But on the surface, I will look just as I am before I had the panic. My panic attacks have gotten to the point where they happen pretty frequently — and severely. But, I still maintain composure on the outside.

Why not ask for any help? I tend to suffer in silence because what’s the point of voicing it when I just need to let the panic pass and continue on with my day (which is how I deal with it). But also, because it can be tough for me to describe what I’m going through. And to be honest, I don’t want the pity.

If the panic is extremely difficult for me, I tend to feel like I won’t be able to breathe or my heart will stop in the seconds to come. Soon, I’ll get this warm sensation as if I was about to pass out. My breathing will get shallow, so I’ll try to take deeper breaths. All the while, I keep two fingers on my pulse to make sure my pulse is still there. Every time there’s a little blip, I freak out. I’ll try to remain calm and distract myself, which seems to make the situation worse.

For a time, I’ll try to think about what’s causing my anxiety or panic and only come to realize that I need to let it run its course. I was at the movies once with my cousins. And for the time we were watching the movie, I was having a panic attack. I couldn’t understand why. Every time I felt like it got worse, I wanted to get up and walk out. But I didn’t want to draw attention to myself nor make matters worse. I pushed through the 2 hours, trying to focus on the movie and find every way to distract the sensations I was feeling in my body.

But saying this mantra, “You’re OK. Just breathe. It’ll pass,” helped when I was trapped in my own mind. I focused on maintaining a normal breathing pattern. I tried not to think about my pulse too much. When I got a warm sensation, I would change positions or drink some water. And after a while, it would pass. After some time, it would come back. This happened several times.

But each time after it was over, I was fine.

Everything was OK.

I’ve found a couple things that have helped me, and maybe they would help you too.

1. Journaling.

I woke up one night with a mild panic attack. I felt like being inside my bedroom was suffocating me, but I knew that I was completely fine physically. So I grabbed one of my notebooks and wrote, “You’re OK” over and over and over again. And it seemed to help!

2. Netflix.

Or anything audible, really. I try to focus on listening to what’s happening instead of the physical sensations I was feeling.

3. Massages.

Usually, I’m not a fan. But recently, they have been a life saver when my anxiety causes muscle tension.

4. Acknowledging what’s happening.

This was a big one for me. Writing down that I knew I was in a anxiety/panic attack, what my physical symptoms were and what my thoughts were helped to, in a sense, take them from my head and body and putting them on paper.

It’s definitely a journey, but I wasn’t going to let my anxiety or panic attacks keep me from my life.

Getty Images photo via NataliaDeriabina

Originally published: June 29, 2018
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