Times my anxiety got the best of me (and how I learned to deal)
If you’re anything like me, every single thing in the world probably scares you. I grew up wearing winter coats in the blazing heat of summer to avoid bee stings and I slept with my light on for two years in elementary school because of ghosts. I always hoped I would grow out of my anxiety with age, but unfortunately that just didn’t happen…
As I began college, life was very overwhelming, everything was new and I was half-way across the country from my home and parents. Needless to say, everything I originally worried about was exhaustingly heightened—and, more often than not, I let my anxiety control my everyday actions and functions.
These three times, I lost control... but eventually, I learned how to deal. So how did I do it? Here are three times my anxiety got the best of me—and the tips I've learned on how to cope with anxious situations. If you’re ever feeling like this, just know you’re not alone. Try using this advice to learn how to take a step back and calm down when your anxiety spikes.
To Wyoming we (don’t) go
Last year, my mom planned an amazing family vacation to Yellow Stone National Park in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. If you don’t already know what Yellow Stone is, look it up because it’s beautiful. There’s unbelievable hiking, breathtaking views and sites you can’t find anywhere else. But of course, there’s also a volcano. An active volcano that could potentially, maybe erupt at some point within the next 10,000 years. AKA, if you read that correctly, there was basically a 0% chance of the volcano erupting during the one week my family decided to visit. But as soon as I read any info about it, I went into full-blown panic mode. I started trying to find contact information for park rangers to get in touch with, and I looked at the National Park Service’s FAQ page at least 10 times a day. Once my anxiety was through the roof, my mom ended up cancelling the trip, knowing we wouldn’t have been able to have any fun while we were there because I would be worrying too much.
Get me off this plane!
I go to the University of Michigan, and my sister goes to the University of Virginia. She’s my best friend and I want to see her, but visiting Virginia requires flying. This is a big problem, considering flying is my #1 biggest fear. Last year, I decided to power through and make the trek, flying from Detroit to a small town in Virginia. Since I was flying into such a small town, the plane I took had only seven rows—it was the smallest plane I’ve ever seen. This scared me initially, but I tried to ignore it. When we were up in the air, the turbulence was so bad because of plane's size. Every now and then, we’d drop at least 10 feet thanks to the wind, and at the same time, my heart felt like it was dropping to the bottom of my stomach. I started crying instantly and really couldn’t control my emotions. Looking around the plane, people must’ve thought I was crazy! Everyone else was cool, calm and collected. The woman next to me had to ask if I was okay, and I told her I was having a panic attack. She tried to calm me down, but let’s just say it was a bit of a disaster.
Sweating at night…what does this mean?
On top of everything else, I am also a hypochondriac. For those of you who don’t know what that means, I worry that I am always sick or have a disease (even though my body is almost always functioning normally). A few years ago, I started waking up every night covered in sweat. Because of my anxiety, I started panicking. I went on the Internet and researched every day—what did this mean? Why did I have night sweats? Did I have a disease? The results online were unclear, so I finally made a doctor's appointment to try to calm down. After many tests, it turns out I was completely healthy. The problem? I was sleeping with a heavy comforter in mid-July. I really should’ve thought of this first, but with my anxiety, I wasn’t thinking rationally.
What I've learned
Although these stories of my experience might sound ridiculous, the fear was very real to me. Within the past year, I’ve finally learned some tips to use in moments when my anxiety and stress levels are high. Keep these tips in mind next time you have anxiety. They definitely helps me.
1. You can’t let anxiety keep you from living your life (you might miss out one once in a lifetime experiences, like my family going to Yellowstone!).
2. Avoid looking at the Internet in moments of stress. The Internet can be full of scary information, and often a lot of it isn’t even true.
3. Live in the present. Worrying about something that might (but most likely will not) happen in the future is only going to ruin good times that are happening now.
4. Practice deep breathing. It might sound silly, but deep breathing has a way of calming your body down so your muscles start to realize you’re not in a state of panic. If you practice deep breathing just five minutes every day, you can use your techniques when anxious moments do occur.
5. Talk to someone. Confiding in a friend, parent or sibling can be extremely helpful when you have anxiety. Everyone has a fear at some point, and loved ones want to be there to help you. You’re never alone.
6. Exercise! Exercise isn’t only great for your physical health, it’s also great for your mental health. Try yoga, Pilates or running. These exercises increase endorphins while calming your mind. They all really help me.
How do you deal with anxiety? Have you ever had moments where you're feeling really anxious?