Tears started to well up in Jamie’s eyes. Her heart was pounding in her chest and she felt panicked. What was worse, she didn’t know why. She was folding clothes, the kids were safely in bed, the bills were all paid, no one was sick and yet she felt like the world would come to an end. Maybe she was sick, she considered, but she knew she was not. She spoke with her mom on the phone earlier in the day and they had a good chat. Nothing out of the ordinary. She wondered if she should call her back. Maybe it was intuition. Maybe something bad had happened. It was late, but she called anyway.
“Yes, baby, is everything okay? Are the kids okay? Goodness, it’s late, what’s the matter?”
“Nothing,” Jamie felt foolish. Her mother was fine. “I just wanted to hear your voice. Are you okay?”
“Sleepy. Are the kids okay? Are you okay?”
“Yes, Mama,” she lied. “I’m sorry, go back to sleep. I didn’t realize what time it is. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Jamie hung up the phone and sat on the bed. She started to fold the clothes again when her heart started thumping in her chest and she felt as if she could scream. She wasn’t in pain, she was in a panic. She closed her eyes and lay back on her pillow. Saying a prayer she started to breathe deeply letting her lungs fill with air and forcing anxiety out of her body as she pressed the air out of her lungs. She assured herself that everything was okay and cleared her mind as she focused on her breathing. Soon she felt herself return to normal. She threw the rest of the laundry back in the basket and curled up to a restful sleep.
Anxiety can be scary. Anxiety is feeling worried, nervous, or eager about something soon to happen. Sometimes anxiety happens when there are true stressors in our life like overdue bills or illness, but sometimes anxiety happens when there are no triggers and the body reacts for no reason at all. One in 13 people have anxiety attacks. Anxiety is a stressor and learning to deal with the stress of anxiety is much like dealing with other stressors in your life.
Think positive thoughts. See silver linings. Try not to dwell on negative things or things that can not be changed.
Eating well balanced, healthy meals can reduce physical stress. Try cutting back on sweets and caffeine, which can amplify anxiety.
Get a move on! Endorphins are feel good chemicals. Your body produces endorphins when you exercise. Make exercise part of your weekly routine to lessen stress.
Get away and do something that you enjoy, something that takes care of you. Relaxing in the tub, reading a book or getting a pedicure are some ways to take care of yourself.
Breathing, meditating and praying are good ways to focus your mind. Take deep breaths and focus on relaxation. Assure yourself that the anxiety will pass and that everything is okay. Clear your mind of worrisome thoughts.
USE YOUR HANDS
Make something. Draw, color, paint, bake, garden… using your hands helps you refocus your mind.
ASK FOR HELP
Call a friend or family member, a pastor, a mentor, a teacher. Sometimes it helps to talk to someone to become grounded. And don’t be afraid to seek professional help from a counselor (financial, spiritual, social/psychological), psychologist or doctor. Anxiety can be the result of trauma or real danger. That’s when we don’t want to take anxiety lightly. There is no shame in speaking up and asking for help with your anxiety or the issues that cause it.
Know your body. Recognize and acknowledge changes in your body, depression and thoughts of suicide. Note reactions and side effects of medications. Call your doctor or suicide help line immediately if you think you have a medial or psychiatric emergency.
FIND A GROUP
Join a support group. It’s good to come together with others to talk and vent and share. Sometime we need a community to gather around us. We draw strength from community and that’s good for our mental health.