3 Things That Have Helped My Anxiety
I’m making an attempt to get back into more writing because – after the subject of me NOT writing came up twice this last week – I thought the universe was sending me a sign.
Don’t get me wrong – I write ALL. DAY. LONG. But it’s for work, so that’s not much fun.
I recently went on a trip with my son to look at colleges. This trip required me to fly three times in six days, something I couldn’t have done a few years ago.
Starting around 2013, I developed severe anxiety around flying (which then spilled over into other areas of my life). It had nothing to do with flying itself; it was more a claustrophobia thing. I panicked because I felt like I was stuck on the plane and couldn’t get off.
At its worst, I couldn’t breathe, would sweat like crazy, couldn’t talk for the duration of the flight, had severe dizziness and nausea, and pretty much felt like I wanted to scream to get off. I remember seeing a story on the news about a woman who just started screaming on a flight. I don't know what her issue was, but I sympathized with her. I've wanted to do that many times.
I have been through a lot of “therapies” and have experimented (with the help of my doctor, of course) with some pretty heavy-duty drugs. But nothing worked.
A shift began to happen when my oldest went to school out of state. I knew I needed to conquer this because my need to see her far outweighed the fear I felt of flying.
Here’s what I did:
Breathing became everything to me, but it was really hard for me to learn and even harder to trust as an actual solution. I realized that my panic was triggered when the plane would do something unexpected like shift a little in the air. My breathing would get irregular by something like that and then send me into a panic. If I could catch it early and breath in slowly through my nose and out through my mouth for four seconds each, I could regulate my breathing and it would stop.
Create a New Habit
In James Clear’s Atomic Habits he describes doing things on a regular basis that will naturally make your body respond in a certain way. In my case, I have a meditation playlist that I listen to when I take a bath or want to relax at night and my body has become accustomed to that. When I get on the plane, I put my earbuds in and listen to that. My body now automatically relaxes to it.
I have to practice. I have to make myself get on that plane. I have to reset my mindset to think of all the successful flights I’ve had rather than all the times I’ve panicked. The more good flights I have the more my mind naturally goes to that “good” feeling and doesn’t automatically think about the bad – and that calms me down.
I know a lot of us suffer from anxiety and, again, this is something I’ve battled for YEARS. If you’re dealing with this – I feel your pain. But if you’re like me, you probably look for ANYTHING that might help. I hope some of these suggestions do!