“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength” – Charles Spurgeon
As I write about last month’s second Monday, my heart starts to race and pound all over again, all those unpleasant feelings , the anxiety, the jitters, those hot flashes come back to me and cause me the same nausea it had that evening, I feel fear and I feel unexplained restlessness and it’s not pretty! I sit trying to breathe more normally, trying to calm my little heart that’s trying to give up. That’s saying – “no more stress please, I am breaking now!”
Did I have a full-blown panic attack that day?
I do not know. I never had something so awful happen to me. Do I want to find out? I really don’t know! But all I know is that I do not want to go through it ever again. It took me two whole days out of my precious little life to get back into the normal flow. For two days I kept holed up in my small apartment re-cooperating from the unknown mix of godawful feelings that had hit me.
I agree a lot was happening around me, things unpleasant, stuff distressing but how could I let it all affect me the way it did that day?! I had always been very strong, I had always been optimistic. I had always found the silver lining in the darkest clouds. So why me?!
I am sure we’ve all let stress take the better of us at some points in our lives. We’ve screamed and fought back at people who want to help us, we’ve had problems seeing straight, we’ve broken down, had awful panic attacks or just had sleepless nights worrying out of our minds and having nothing good come out of it.
Reaching out for professional help is the best way to cope with overwhelming anxiety once it starts to affect the quality of life we lead. But if everyday work related stress, personal life turmoil etc get to us only once in a while, we can change the way it affects us by simple lifestyle changes and self counselling.
For me, remembering the following 10 things, every time panic hits me or every time I hit the purple patch, helps me keep my boat afloat and calm down for a while.
1. You are stronger than you think you are : Us humans give ourselves far less credit than we deserve. We’ve survived through a lot! Go back in time and think about it, we’ve faced awful times and still made it. So why can’t we survive what we’re going through now? Remember we’re fighters at the end and this shall pass too
2. Your problems aren’t as big as you make in your head : Sometimes when we’re down and out we may end up exaggerating our problems in our own head. Look back for a while and you’ll find many instances where you’ve thought the worst is about to happen, you’ve beaten yourself over it just to realize in the end, things worked out just okay! So be patient and only do what is in your hands and let things pan out on it’s own, you’ll see it won’t be that bad!
3. You have support : So you’ve messed up, you’re in big trouble, your problem too big, one thing that will calm you at that point is to think of the ones closest to you. They’re always there aren’t they! Even if the entire world walks out on you, your family and friends won’t and you know it! They’re your rock and they’re there to face the storm with you.
4. You’re not alone: You aren’t the only one with the godawful stressful job, not the only one who got divorced this year, not the only one whose trying to be sober, not the only one with chronic depression, not the only one whose trying to juggle too many things in life, not the only one whose poor! It’s not just you and your problems aren’t unique. The world is full of problems and life’s really not a bed of roses. But the important thing is that we don’t quit trying to be happy. Remember everyone has their own struggle and everyone is putting up a brave front, you should do that too.
5. Has Contemplating future got you anywhere? : The extra worrying, the extra fear, the anticipation of something awful coming, ask yourself, has that gotten you anywhere? Is it worth it? Will your worrying change the future? No! But, your actions just might! So it’s important to tell yourself that things are going to turn out well, all you have to do is work towards it, put in all your energy towards what you can control and what’s going to happen will happen regardless, you might just enjoy your life right now!
6. Time heals everything : If it’s the past that haunts you, if it’s your guilt that makes you anxious, if your scared of judgment, remember, time is a great healer. Often times even a small work related mistake can trigger panic in me! An email I sent to a wrong person or if I messed up during a meeting, anything as small as that can send me down a guilt trip, I will end up judging myself too harshly and that just might trigger anxiety in me! But at those times remembering that people have short memories and with time they will forget and as days roll by the mistake you made will actually appear too trivial to you, helps me get through. So give it time! Give yourself a break!
7. Life always gives you a second chance : Another important thing to always remember is there will always be a next time. If an important upcoming event makes you nervous in anticipation, maybe your test results or an already bad grade makes you worried and anxious, always remember in the long run, these thing that seem to be life and death to you, may seem trivial a while later. So don’t fret. Your second chance will definitely be better!
8. What’s the worst that could happen : Think about this. Even if the worst was gonna happen to you, you’ll still have your family and friends. Say in the worst case you find yourself all alone among judgmental eyes. Do you really think you’re not strong enough! Well as I said earlier the more testing the time, the more stronger you’ll get and appreciate those happier times more. Would that not be wonderful! Sometimes pain is good, bear through it and what will come next will be overwhelming happiness. Remind yourself that.
9. You’re luckier than most people : Remembering this one thing can rid you of all life’s problems can’t it! We are really very lucky! Each one of us! We just fail to see how gifted our lives are. How gifted we are. Most of us have a roof over our head, a job no matter how hectic, family, friends, the morning sun, food on the table, flowers in the garden. Think about the homeless, the sick, they’re all still putting up a fight! Don’t our problems seem little in front of them. We’re so lucky and only the best will happen to us. Remember we’re part of the bigger scheme and whatever happens, happens for good!
10. Life’s not meant to be this serious: We’re not getting out alive anyways!!! Down the line all that people are gonna remember about you is how you treated them, how you were around them and how happy you made them. Your not becoming the company GM, the class you failed, the mistakes you made, the wealth you did not collect are all becoming insignificant one fine day! It becomes so important to let go and let life happen to you. For most parts it will be a happy, rewarding, fulfilling life. Sit back and relax through the crazy journey folks!
I hope my self-help tips work as well for you as they for me. Do let me know your comments.
Happy journey through life!!