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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Anxious Much

I recently had an anxiety attack at a friend's house. I tried to calm down as much as I could before resorting to the Buspar. I've been pretty good lately at managing my panic without medications. Sometimes the Buspar is a preventative if I have a little inkling that I may be incredibly nervous and uncomfortable in a situation, and sometimes the Buspar is only taken once the attack is in effect and I don't think I can calm down sufficiently.
I'm trying to ween myself of off meds unless absolutely necessary. I don't want to depend solely on them.  What if one day the insurance rug is pulled out from under me, what then?
 I'd have to start from scratch all over again.
How I dealt with my little episode that day was to go for a walk. I like walking, it helps clear out all the bullshit. Being alone and lost in thought is sometimes what I need to get back to normal.
I'm very moody at times but I find my way back.
 Eating Disorders and Anxiety go hand in hand.
For the non insured/non prescription pill taking Lovelies, maybe you can apply some of these strategies to your own lives.


Twelve Ways to Manage Anxiety

1. Recognize the Reptilian Brain

 A therapist named Elvira Aletta gives a brilliant neuropsychology lesson in one of her posts where she explains the two parts of our brain. The first is the primitive part, containing the amygdala, which is responsible for generating and processing our fear and other primal emotions. The second part is our frontal lobes, the neocortex, or the newest part of our brain, which is sophisticated, educated, and is able to apply a bit of logic to the message of raw fear that our reptilian brain generates.

Why is this helpful? When you feel that knot in my stomach that comes with a message that I am unloved by the world,  try to envision a Harvard professor, or some intellectual creature whacking a reptile on the head with a book, saying something like "Would you please just evolve, you overly dramatic creature?"

2. Exaggerate Your Greatest Fear

I know this doesn't seem like a good idea, but truly it works.Tell your fear to someone else and make sure to be as dramatic as possible, with very descriptive words and emotions. Then, when you've told every detail you can think of, start over again. Tell the entire, dramatic story, again with very elaborate descriptions. By the third or fourth time, it becomes a bit "silly."

For example if I were diabetic, I'd tell say my sister this:
 I'm afraid that my leg will have to be amputated, and then I won't be able to drive a car with one leg, and because of that no one will date me and I will be a single, lonely old woman with one leg. Funny stuff, right.

3. Distract, Distract, Distract

"Distract, don't think."
Stay away from the self-help books and to work on a word puzzle or watch a movie instead, and to surround yourself with people as much as possible.

When I reach a point of disabling anxiety, it's more beneficial for me to try to get out of my head as much as possible. I agree with step 3 very much.

4. Write Twin Letters

A Fresh Living blogger named Holly Lebowitz Rossi offers a smart strategy for anxiety in her post about cold feet:
"Compose a love letter to your object of feet-chill [or fear]. Celebrate all of the reasons you fell in love with him/her/it in the first place. List everything positive you can think of, and nothing negative. Now write a missive. Vent all of your worries about the situation, and try to make a case against moving forward. I'll bet you can't come up with a single true deal-breaker, but giving your worries some air will feel good.

5. Sweat

I have found only one fool-proof, immediate solution to anxiety. And that is exercise. Bike. Walk. Swim. Run. I don't care what you do, as long as you get that ticker of yours working hard. You don't have to be training for an Ironman to feel the antidepressant effect of exercise. Even picking the weeds and watering the flowers has been shown to boost moods. Aerobic exercise can be as effective at relieving mild and moderate depression as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac and Zoloft).

There's a comprehensive book, "The Depression Cure" by a clinical psychologist Stephen Ilardi,
he writes:
"Exercise changes the brain. It increases the activity level of important brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin … exercise also increases the brain's production of a key growth hormone called BDNF. Because levels of this hormone plummet in depression, some parts of the brain start to shrink over time, and learning and memory are impaired. But exercise reverses this trend, protecting the brain in a way nothing else can."


6. Watch Your Thought-Movie

In his blog, Psychotherapy and Mindfulness, psychologist Elisha Goldstein explains that we can practice mindfulness and experience some relief from anxiety by procuring some distance from our thoughts, so that we learn to watch them as we would a movie (in my case, A secret between friends or some other ED themed movie where consequences of this life are well entailed). That way, we can sit back with our bag of popcorn and be entertained by our wacky fear-driven thoughts. As you do this, try to let go of judgments … but remember, bad movies aren't worth watching again. The same goes for toxic, anxious thoughts that seem to be on permanent "on-demand" repeat in our brains. It might just be time to change the channel.

7. Eat Supper-Mood Foods

Unfortunately, anxiety is usually the first clue that I should, once again, analyze my diet: to make sure I'm not drinking too much caffeine, not ingesting too much processed flour, and not bingeing on sweets. If I'm honest with myself, I've usually committed a misdemeanor in one of those areas. So try to go back to power foods. What are they? Elizabeth Somer, author of Food and Mood and Eating Your Way to Happiness mentions these: nuts, soy, milk and yogurt, dark leafy greens, dark orange vegetables, broth soups, legumes, citrus, wheat germ, tart cherries, and berries

8. Return to the Breath

Here's a confession: the only way I know how to calm down during a panic attack is by counting my breaths. I merely say "one" as I inhale and exhale, and then say "two" with my next breath. It's like swimming laps. I can't tune into all the chatter inside my brain because I don't want to mess up my counting. When I bring attention to my breathing-and remember to breathe from my diaphragm, not my chest-I am able to calm myself down a notch, or at least control my hysteria (so that I can wait five minutes before bursting into tears, which means I avoid the public cry session, which is preferred).


9. Break the Day Down

One cognitive adjustment that helps relieve anxiety is reminding myself that I don't have to think about 2:00 p.m., when I pick up my kid from school and how I will be able to cope with the noise and chaos when I'm feeling this way, or about the boundary issue I have with a friend, or whether or not I'm strong enough to continue putting myself first in any relationship. All I have to worry about is the very second before me. If I am successful at breaking my time down that way, I usually discover that everything is fine in this present moment.


10. Use Visual Anchors

My old therapist looks up to the clouds. They calm her down in traffic or whenever she feels anxious. For me it's the water. I don't know if it's because I'm a Pisces (fish), but the water has always calmed me down in the same way as Clonazapam or Buspar.
 So I just downloaded some "ocean waves" that I can listen to on my iPod when I feel that familiar knot in my stomach. I'll also wear something that was given to me by a loved one that I grab when I become scared, a kind of blankie to make me feel safe in an anxious world. It could be a necklace or earrings, maybe even an article of clothing. Something to remind me of a better mindset.


11. Repeat a Mantra


My mantras are very simple: "I am okay" or "I am enough" "You're not dying." There's a  reader I know who  recites what she calls a "metta mediation." She claims that it slowly changes the way she responds to things in her day. She says to herself:
  • May I be filled with loving kindness
  • May I be happy, and healthy
  • May I accept myself in the moment right as I am
  • May all sentient beings, be at peace, and free from suffering.

12. Laugh

Flexing your funny bone does much more than relieving any crushing anxiety. It lowers your immune system, diminishes both physical and psychological pain, fights viruses and foreign cells, heals wounds, and builds community. You have no doubt experienced a moment when you were crippled by anxiety until someone made you laugh out loud, and in doing so anxiety lost its hold over you. Why not laugh all the time, then?

I personally am constantly cracking jokes to alleviate all and any tension. Smiling feels nice..
"Anxiety"
   Eduardo Flores

1 comments:

Peridot (G+P) said...

This.

Was.

Brilliant.

With #1 the reptile morphed into Rarity and I started freaking until I could get the professor to stop with the whacking
http://youtu.be/FbXh7ZipUuQ

3)MLP:FiM=My ultimate distraction. It's hard to stay sad when confronted with ridiculous pastel ponies!

5) I prefer exercise to SSRIs. SSRIs tend to make me a self-harming hypomanic insomniac :x

6)This is why I blog. In proof-reading it becomes entertainment instead of a pool of quicksand.

10)The stars. Staring into space has always been very comforting to me. It sucked in Japan when I could barely pick out Orion's brightest stars in the night sky.

11)This was a triumph! I'm making a note here: Huge success. I feel fantastic and I'm still alive. Still alive. (Portal FTW)
http://youtu.be/Y6ljFaKRTrI

12)YES YES YES!
We have a lovely old lady who comes into work and cracks little old lady jokes to us. I can't remember ANY of them right now. Isn't that always the way? D:
Ok, what's red and invisible?
NO TOMATOES!!!
Yeah, slow day in the old brain department >.<
http://youtu.be/Ks1RyjdbjJA
Love Hina+Weird Al=PURE GOLD. (This song has always helped me laugh at my depression for some reason) Leo. . . I tried to tell the new 2IC the boss wanted him to photocopy the Stocktake forms and his butt for her on Sunday. . . He didn't believe me about the second part :'(

Best of luck for your weekend! <3