Yet man doth not live on bread alone. Describe the thing that gets you through your most difficult days.
Yesterday was one of my difficult days. I have mild anxiety attacks from time to time, and yesterday I had one that was not so mild. And I had to go to work. Oi.
When those hit me, really the only thing I can do is work through it. Quite literally as it happens. Anyway, on days that I am not at work and one of these hits, here are a few things that seem to help.
Talking to People
Like most of the things on this list, this is one of the last things that I want to do when I am in the midst of an attack. I don’t want to go anywhere, I don’t want to do anything, and I don’t want to talk to anyone.
Of course, those are exactly the things that do help. I have to get out of my own head and not cave in to the desire to just crawl into bed and sleep it off. Texting friends or even connecting with people on Facebook or in blog comments can really help.
You can’t be self-centered when you’re talking to people. At least, I can’t. So having conversations, especially ones that are unrelated to my issues, is a really helpful pastime.
This is something that I super don’t want to do when I’m feeling panicky. Yet it helps so much. The act of putting together ingredients and dealing with burners helps quiet my racing thoughts of doom and gloom. I usually can’t actually eat what I cook afterwards because the anxiety messes with my appetite, but at least then I have leftovers.
It makes me feel productive, and often part of my negative thoughts have to do with the fact that I am unhappy with my productivity levels. There’s a lot more that goes into it than that, but even something this small can stop or even reverse the downward spiral.
Watching a show or movie or YouTube video isn’t really helpful because I can just zone out from it. Reading requires more effort on my part, so it helps to actually divert my toxic thought patterns.
Also, I just connect better with the written word. It’s too easy for me to tune out people speaking when my own voice is shouting in my head.
I love karaoke. And for some reason belting out a song (80s ballads are good) helps lift my spirits a bit.
In particular, the song “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music has made me smile no matter what my circumstances since I was a kid. Just the opening lyrics are enough to help me shift my thoughts and start to come out of the funk.
Unfortunately, I don’t always remember this while the anxiety attack is happening. Actually, I rarely remember it. My mind is not my friend in these moments.
One thing that doesn’t help: Writing
It’s incredibly unfortunate and actually kind of heartbreaking, but writing does not help me during these times. It can actually make it worse. While other activities divert my thoughts, writing actually focuses them and makes the negative voices louder.
I think I’m an (at least) decent writer, but when these attacks hit, I’m convinced that I’m absolutely terrible and everything I produce is the worst thing in the world. It’s not true, of course. And on some level, I know it isn’t true. Still, the bad thoughts don’t care about truth or falsehood, and trying to write anything seems to give them fuel.
So there are four things that help and one that doesn’t. If you have anxiety attacks like these, what helps get you through it?