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It’s so uncomfortable when my anxiety creeps up on me while I’m in the presence of others. I try to pretend like I’m ok and carry on a conversation meanwhile my heart feels like it’s going to beat out of my chest as nervous energy takes over my entire body. When I’m experiencing a panic attack it can last several seconds or several minutes. Unfortunately, I don’t have much control over when I will have another panic attack but I am learning what triggers me. It’s important for me to share my story in an effort to raise more mental health awareness and normalize mental health therapy. Anxiety is one of the most common forms of mental illness so do not feel any shame about seeking a therapist. Every one could use one, especially after this year.
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed mental health professional and I am not offering any medical advice. Consult with a medical professional for care. This blog is for informational/inspirational purposes only.
About a year ago I decided to see a mental health nurse who explained that even though it feels like I’m dying during a panic attack, I won’t. That gave me so much relief but at the same time it does not take away the fear of death during an attack. All I can do is accept what is happening and use it as an opportunity for spiritual practice.
I’ve been suffering from anxiety for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I really began to understand my mental health. The overthinking, endless worrying, unwanted thoughts, and feelings of doom are all symptoms of anxiety. Other symptoms include sleep problems, shortness of breath, hyperventilation, dizziness, and not being able to stay calm or still. Everyone feels anxious now and then, but anxiety disorders are different. In fact, there are several types of anxiety disorders:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is when you feel excessive and unrealistic worry or tension with little to no reason.
Panic Disorder is when you feel sudden, intense fear that brings on a panic attack. This may cause you to have chest pain, feel like you’re choking, or have palpitations.
Social Anxiety Disorder is when you obsessively worry about others judging you or being embarrassed.
Separation Anxiety is when you feel anxious or fearful when a person you’re close with leaves your sight.
This list is not all inclusive but gives you an idea of the different ways anxiety manifests. It’s important to note that anxiety attacks and panic attacks share similar symptoms but are not the same. Anxiety can be mild, moderate, or severe and is often related to something perceived as stressful. Anxiety tends to build up gradually. Panic attacks aren’t always cued by stressors, and are often abrupt. The physical symptoms of panic attacks are usually more intense than anxiety. On another note, panic attacks and panic disorder are not the same. Panic disorder involves recurring panic attacks with constant fear of future attacks.
What Causes Anxiety?
Researchers have a hard time pinpointing exactly what causes anxiety disorders. Some causes of anxiety include a complex mix of factors such as genetics, brain chemistry, environmental stress, life situations, medical conditions, etc.
If you’re not a big fan of meds like myself, there are some self care options for anxiety which include physical activity, a healthy diet, and regular sleep. It’s also best to avoid caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine. My coping mechanisms are more spiritual in nature, however. What works for me may not work for you, but if you’re all out of options you may want to keep reading…
5 Spiritual Practices that Reduce Anxiety
I’m so grateful for my spiritual journey because I am becoming more equipped to withstand whatever life throws my way. Whenever I am experiencing a panic attack, I begin practicing spirituality. Here’s how:
Grounding or Earthing, refers to walking barefoot outside to make an electrical connection to Earth’s surface energies. When we create skin to Earth contact, we discharge excess energy into the ground for a healing effect. Grounding gives me comfort because I feel more connected to Mother Earth. The more you appreciate nature the more you will find value in this therapeutic technique.
There are many types of meditation practice including mindfulness meditation, movement meditation, mantra meditation, and transcendental meditation. Many meditation techniques are rooted in Buddhist philosophy. There is no right or wrong way to practice meditation and not all styles are for everyone. I love practicing mindfulness meditation because it helps me gain more clarity and conscious awareness. It creates a sense of inner peace and harmony. In mindfulness meditation, you simply observe your thoughts as they cross your mind without getting involved with them and without any judgement. Meditation helps to:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce anxiety
- Decrease pain
- Ease symptoms of depression
Crystals and gemstones have a healing effect for those who believe in their energies. There is a crystal for everything- anxiety, love, fortune, creativity, etc. You can carry them as talismans, wear them as jewelry, or meditate with them in order to tap into their powerful vibrations. Crystal healing has similar results as the placebo effect: when you program your mind to expect certain results you tend to receive them. If a fake pill can heal a person from symptoms, then surely a precious piece of the Earth has the same healing powers. Five crystals that help relieve anxiety are:
- Rose Quartz
- Black Tourmaline
- Blue Lace Agate
Focus on Breathing
When you focus on your breathing, it becomes a spiritual practice that helps you focus on your center. Deep breathing is a powerful anxiety reducing technique because it helps to relax the body with every inhale and exhale. Breathing is a life source, so when I’m having a panic attack I appreciate each breath. Sometimes I count my breaths up to 10 to maintain focus.
Water is my number one go-to for healing. Even if I have a headache, I assume I need more water. Not drinking enough water can make anxiety symptoms like heart palpitations worse. Drinking water is cleansing, which in some ways makes it a spiritual practice. Stay hydrated, friends.
I thought I defeated my anxiety, but 2020 has shown me that this is an ongoing battle. We’ve all been triggered so much this year, so make your mental health a priority. And remember that you aren’t in this alone.