Why am I so anxious?Whilst it is normal to feel nervous about important events or life changes, tens of millions of people across the world live with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can vary from GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) - an deep worry that is uncontrollable to PD (Panic Disorder) - panic attacks, heart palpitations, shaking, chest pain, etc.
It is important to look in to management techniques to help reduce anxiety in the long term, for example talking therapies or medication. CBT is a common treatment for those living with an anxiety disorder.
However, there are things that can be done in the short term to help to relax your mind and help you to regain some control of your emotions.
1) Remind yourself you are okay.
Panic attacks can make you feel like you are dying or like something terrible is going to happen. They can even make you feel like you are having a heart attack. If you have been checked out by a doctor and diagnosed with panic attacks, it is useful to remind yourself that "I'm having a panic attack, I am not going to die. This will pass." One thing to remember is that a panic attack is actually the opposite of impending death - your body is trying to escape a dangerous situation (fight or flight), this is the thing that is actually going to keep you alive!
2) Take deep breaths
Taking deep breaths can help you calm down. Whilst you may of heard about breathing exercises, the main thing to do is just focus on slowing down your breathing. Really concentrate on taking a deep breath in and then evenly exhaling. This is useful to help slowdown your thoughts.
3) Three things you see
Can you name three things you see, three things that you can hear and finally three things that you can smell? Really focus on them. What colour are the objects you see? What do they sound like and what smell do they give off? This helps to distract from anxiety and ground your thoughts, helping trick your mind back to calmness.
4) Go for a walk
Sometimes going for a walk can really help clear the mind. This is particularly useful for helping to interrupt your thoughts. Additionally, endorphins released during exercise are excellent at making us feel better about ourselves.
5) Keep away from caffeine and sugar
It might be tempting to make a coffee or grab something sweet when you are feeling stressed, but caffeine and chocolate can do much more harm than good. Research shows eating sugar can worsen anxious feelings. Instead if reaching for that coffee or candy, get a glass of water or something savory - providing slower energy which your body can use to recover.