I have a lot of mixed feelings about anxiety. I don’t believe that anxiety should ruin your life, I don’t believe that’s the only component of a person, and I believe that a person dealing with anxiety can be a fully functioning member of society. I’m a little on the “get a grip” tough love side. Now maybe you’re thinking, but Eva, you don’t know what anxiety is like, if you really did, you would be more empathetic. Unfortunately, I do know exactly what anxiety is like. I’ve been there, some days I am still very much there, but I don’t let it stop me.
I used to let anxiety get the better of me every time. I used to let my depression and ADHD and lack of anger management skills rule my life. But I’ve been making active steps to regain control of my life.
To do this, the first thing I needed to realise is that everyone has a limit. It was explained to me like this. Imagine you have a cup and slowly water is being dripped in, at some point it will overflow, even if it takes a while to get there and even if the overflow is just a bit; it will overflow. Whether it’s bit by bit or a tidal wave of water entering your cup at some point it will overflow. The point is when your cup overflows you have an anxiety attack. Whether the stress drips in little by little, or you have a wave of stress, the result is the same. Another key point to remember is no place, person or thing is magical. What I mean by this is, nothing can be so powerful that it is the sole reason for your anxiety attacks. For example, if you start a new job and it feels like you’ll never get the hang of your new responsibilities and everything is going wrong and suddenly, it’s hard to breath and your sweating and can hear your pulse in your ears. So, you go outside to cool off and your anxiety goes away. Now you start thinking to yourself, “I can’t do this, when I go back in there the same thing will happen, I’m doing fine out here, this place and this job is obviously the problem.” I hate to burst your bubble; this place is not the problem. You are. Once you realise you’re spinning yourself into a frenzy and overthinking, you’ll be able to catch yourself and stop the tidal wave before it hits. Remember you’re capable. Just breathe.
Another little piece of information to note is when your anxiety cup runs over your fight or flight kicks in, which is why you sweat, maybe feel like you need to pee, it’s why your heart rate goes up. Your body is getting ready to run or fight whatever just triggered your anxiety. Why does this happen? Well, back when we were cavemen, if something stressed us by scaring us, we would get flushed, maybe pee ourselves and we would hear pulsing in our ears. Our blood would flood into our chest and overflow into our face, and we would remove any extra weight via going to the bathroom, (this way we could run away faster) and we would get sweaty (so we would be slippery if we had to fight). Our body still has this natural fight or flight instinct that happens when we get rattled. So, what would a cave man do? He/She would run, or fight until they were free, and the fight or flight would turn off. The lesson to be learned in all of this, is when our anxiety runs over and our fight or flight kicks in, GO FOR A JOG! Pop on some head phones, turn your mind off (STOP THINKING) and go until your anxiety level recedes back into your anxiety cup.
So now we know what to do when my anxiety overflows, but how do we keep it from overflowing? Well, lower the level in your cup. If your levels are always at the brim of your cup it won’t take much if anything at all to tip you over the edge. How do you lower your levels? Exercise! Going for a jog, workout. When your anxiety overflows exercise will eat away at the overflow until your anxiety levels are back in your cup, so exercising when your levels haven’t yet overflown will reduce the levels you have in your anxiety cup and require a lot more stress and overthinking to bring the levels back to the brim again. Like I said before, turn your brain off. Stop overthinking. Close your eyes and meditate. Listen to some ASMR, spray some lavender essential oil in the air and feel your stress and worry drip off.
You can do anything, realize this is your life.
You’re in control.