Sandra, 12-year-old bright girl, ran out of her room, “Mom, why this internet never works properly and now my password isn’t working. My teacher is calling for me in class and, I can’t join,” all of this in one breath.
I, a technically weak person, before could understand what was happening, got bombarded with another technical issue. “How to retrieve my password?” said my daughter to me.
Her panic rubbed on me so smoothly that I came up with the most stupid question that I realised instantly, after it left my mouth, “have you tried putting your password.” I still remember the look on my daughter’s face – the irritation and the helplessness of not being able to scream at me because that’s what I have taught her – respect elders. So that teaching saved me once but couldn’t last for long when I asked her to breathe deeply to calm herself.
Ops! that was the tipping point for her to lose her patience, “Mom, my breathing deeply will not transport me into my class, but my password will.”
At this point, I knew more than her I needed deep breathing.
I could instantly sense the blankness or the inability to think straight building within me. I took a deep breath, had a glass of water. All this moment, I could sense Sandra’s growing panic. Finally, I decided to call the school to find a solution. Which eventually helped and, we both came out of the anxious situation in few minutes. While Sandra went into her class and I heard her laughing with her friends. I still felt the weakness in my body. Like Sandra, I couldn’t snap out of the stress situation that got built within few minutes. The situation got resolved but the after effect was still within me. I could feel it physically and emotionally.
Anxiety is a constant friend that can meet you at any point in your life. You don’t need to wait for it to visit you. It shows its existence till you don’t observe it or do anything to poof it away.
Anxiety doesn’t show unalarmed. It will gradually become bolder and stronger because most people respond when it gets bigger. That’s when it can scare you easily and, even you would take it seriously. Fear is a prominent reason for anyone to react anxiously. Before anxiety even builds into something big, milder signals show up that if managed at an early stage, helps in keeping your stress and anxiety under control.
If your fear grows anxiety grows.
Almost everyone would have felt anxious at some point in life. Artists, creative people, public speakers face a lot of anxiety issues. The nervousness of putting yourself out and the fear of getting rejected or judged can make things difficult for the performer. Many simple techniques can help in handling anxiety. But before that, you must understand the difference between panic and anxiety.
Panic or anxiety attack although used interchangeably is not the same. Both have almost similar symptoms, but one is stronger than the other. Panic attacks are generally more intense than anxiety attacks. They also come on out of the blue, while anxiety attacks are often associated with a trigger.
When facing anxiety, managing the early signs helps in controlling it. For that, you need to be aware of the signals related to some form of fear. It could be the fear of failure, judgement, humiliation, disappointment, or missing out that isn’t letting you stay in control. It either makes you work harder or procrastinate, which means you get in fight or flight mode. Our body has an in-built defence mechanism that responds to fight, flight or freeze based on the situation. This system is to protect against any form of danger. During the primal years of mankind, the defence mechanism recognised danger a a threat to life, but now with constant stress, the situations under the umbrella of risk have changed. For a student presenting a research paper could be a threat, while for an executive closing a sales call. A surgeon conducting an eye operation would feel stress, and a chef while putting a perfect dish together. In all these conditions, there is fear of embarrassment, humiliation, or failure. Our mind then wants to either run from that situation- flight, try to raise the bar of self-expectation – fight or refuse to act – freeze.
One antidote to anxiety is to relearn to be happy. Why do I say relearn? We are born with the emotion of happiness, but we forget to smile or laugh as challenges develop in life.
You don’t know how terrified fear feels when you feel happy.
You always have the option to be happy even in the most unbearable situations. When you smile, you achieve two goals: a) you dispel your fear, and b) you help the other person relax. As stress easily gets rubbed on others, happiness travels effortlessly too.
You have the option to choose happiness over stress. And that state is easy to reach by following some simple yet effective tools. Before I suggest what you can do, you need to know that whatever method you choose, it will require practice and patience. Both of these are non-negotiable if you aim to reduce your anxiousness.
The different steps you can take are:
- Build your self-awareness to know your trigger points and be mindful to deal with them. Identify your values and beliefs.
- Meditate or do yoga to relax your mind and body. Any form of exercise – walking, running, jogging works wonders to release pressure.
- If dancing was your love, ever in life, then bring it back in your routine. You would not believe how much it sets you free and fills you with happiness and compassion.
- Journal your thoughts. It’s a lifesaver. It opens you up to define your pain and allows you to grieve. To know more about the benefits of journaling, read my book I Love myself- Discover a Life through Self-love. There is a chapter that talks about how writing is therapeutic. Anyone on the verge of building stress or anxiety can use this harmless yet most efficient tool.
- Look for a support system. The feeling of loneliness makes life miserable. Two makes a company. Just one friend or a family member who loves you unconditionally is sufficient enough for you to share your worries and reduce your anxiety.