It’s Labor Day and I’m coming into work in a positive mood as I usually am in. The store is booming with hungry customers and I get into uniform as quick as possible so I can get myself on the line. My general manager, Ashley, greets me kindly and so does the rest of my team. I’m all smiles as I start painting mayonaise and mustard on a canvas of bread. I love making sandwiches- it’s a form of art. The busiest of days are my favorite because I’m completely absorbed in my work. My fingers are moving at record speed as I jump from station to station, cutting pickles, making shakes, and handing money back to guests. I am in my element until a wave of emotions rushes through me. I’ve familiarized myself with this state because this isn’t the first time I shake its hand. Anxiety takes over my body and suddenly cutting pickles, making shakes, and painting sandwiches becomes an almost impossible task. My body shuts down as I enter my personalized danger zone. This piece is for others who struggle with anxiety- to feel less trapped and more at ease- and primarily for myself so next time I feel this way I can conquer it instead of fail.
- Talk to Someone
Usually anxiety attacks don’t happen at home. They happen at school, the workplace, on centerstage. Wherever it hits, find comfort in someone you trust. Anxiety attacks are so much easier if you aren’t battling it alone. Talk to someone and explain your situation. Usually people will either empathize if they struggle themselves or sympathize if they don’t. Either way having someone else to bounce back your worries on provides a cushion for your emotions. If no one is around you call a friend or family member. Sometimes all you need is someone to listen.
SAM is actually a mobile app. It works as an anxiety toolkit and has everything you need to conquer an anxiety attack including tips, breathing exercises, and an anxiety tracker. One of my favorite features on the app is an exercise called “picture peace” where you drag your finger over a pretty picture to unveal it. Something about the act of decoding a picture calms the mind. This app was created by the University of the West of England and backed up by science.
- Breathing Exercises
The first breathing exercise is called “CO2 Rebreathing”. It’s effective for when your anxiety causes you to hyperventilate. Cuff your hands over your mouth and breathe slowly. The idea is to prevent the banishing of carbon dioxide and get it back into your lungs in order to regain the balance of CO2 in your system. Deep breathing includes sitting in a chair with your back straight and taking a 5 second breath in through your nose, holding it for a few seconds, and breathing out through your mouth for a duration of 7 seconds. Repeating this 10 times will leave you feeling more relaxed and balanced.
- Essential Oils
Essential oils are natural remedies you can try out for anxiety. They include lavendar, rose, chamomile, ylang ylang, and bergamot. They all help reduce anxiety and even promote cheerfulness, courage, and optimism. You can use essential oils in many ways including through a diffuser, applying onto the skin, and massaging onto beads.
I’ve always been a fan of getting my thoughts out on paper. Recently I started a journal called “brain dump”. It’s a little different from my organized method of journaling because it focuses on more unfiltered writing. My “brain dump” inclues pictures and captions, charts, and short paragraphs or bulletpoints about what I’m feeling. It’s like free verse poetry where you don’t have guidelines to follow and can just pour your heart out on paper. I bring my journal with me everywhere I go and jot down ideas whenever they come up. This method works for me but journaling is so personal that if you prefer to a more structured method you can absolutely stick to that.
I’ve failed. I left work and went home after trying to combat an intense anxiety attack. I lay in bed pitting myself for an hour or two until I realize that doing that won’t get me anywhere and writing an article about it will. Hope you enjoyed!
Abraham, Micah. “3 Effective Anxiety Breathing Exercises.” 7 Strategies for Dealing With Work Anxiety, Calm Clinic, 28 Sept. 2017, http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/treatment/breathing-exercises.
Boldt, Ethan. “The Top 7 Essential Oils for Anxiety.” Dr. Axe, Dr. Axe, 9 Mar. 2018, draxe.com/essential-oils-for-anxiety/