Panic Answers

What is a good tip for panic attacks/thinking in a closed loop/tunnel vision?

Thank you for taking the time to submit your question, T. It seems you are wanting  a mantra or tip to help you with your panic attacks. It seems you struggle with looking beyond the situation that triggers your panic.  Unfortunately,  there is no one mantra or tip I can offer you that will guarantee you a solution to your dilemma. However,  I do believe it is helpful to have an understanding of panic attacks before delving into coping strategies.  Panic attacks are nothing to fear, although they can feel scary if you are not familiar with what they are. Panic attacks are essentially your body's response to a situation or event triggering anxiety or fear. Your body's sympathetic nervous system revs up into overdrive and signals a "fight or flight" response that manifests as panic. Your sympathetic nervous system reacts as though it is in "survival mode," so your body prepares to either fight or flee from the situation causing your brain to feel alarmed.  Because your mind and body are connected, it would make sense that your body would be responding to the anxiety you are experiencing. Of course, this reaction happens in nanoseconds, so you do not have time to slow down and process what is happening. Under "normal" circumstances, this response is healthy and can help you survive a situation that would literally require you to fight or flee to survive. However, when you are you not in imminent danger, this response may seem nonsensical and debilitating. Panic attacks can be marked by symptoms like heart palpitations, shortness of breath, nausea, chest pain, fear of dying or going crazy, shaking or trembling, de-personalization, etc.  Panic attacks may last a few seconds to several minutes. Not everyone experiences panic attacks in the same way. Some people experience panic attacks only when specifically triggered by a phobia, like flying on an airplane. Other times people may experience panic attacks at seemingly random times or due to underlying generalized anxiety. Regardless, after experiencing a panic attack people then often experience a "fear of fear" cycle as they may then fear a future panic attack returning, which ironically may trigger the onset of another panic attack!  Because panic attacks are driven by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system needs to engaged to facilitate a state of calm and relaxation. Practicing deep breathing exercises and positive self-talk (which could include a mantra statement along the lines of "this, too, shall pass") can all go a long way in managing panic attacks. You may find mindfulness and grounding techniques helpful, as well, as these strategies bring your focus back into the present where you are currently safe. I suggest that you start working with a therapist on BetterHelp so that you can learn and implement panic attack coping skills.
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/27/2022

What can I do to help with ptsd flashbacks?

Hello, It sounds like the flashbacks have been really disruptive, especially when they seem to occur spontaneously. As far as your question of making the flashbacks more manageable, addressing the trauma through therapy may help reduce or eliminate the flashbacks altogether and may also help reduce or eliminate other symptoms associated with trauma. There are a number of treatment modalities that have been proven to be effective for trauma, including CBT and EMDR. Many people who participate in these treatments will find that the trauma has a much more limited affect on their lives and their flashbacks can stop altogether.  In the meantime, I have a couple of more temporary solutions. The first is to make sure those who will be around you aware of your triggers and aware of what may occur during a flashback. Knowing that, for example, your coworkers can be prepared and understand what is happening can be useful, as they can then support you. Making a list of your triggers can help you to avoid certain situations, although I know that this will not be perfect. If the flashbacks have become so disruptive in your life, especially given that you could become aggressive or violent, I strongly encourage you to talk with a psychiatrist who can look at possible medications to help. Some people with PTSD have difficulty falling asleep due to experiencing frequent nightmares, and this also causes them to wake up during the night. There is actually a medication that is commonly prescribed to those with PTSD to prevent nightmares, so talking with a doctor about that may help to determine whether you could benefit from it. Another suggestion is to abstain from any activities that could be stimulating or triggering before bed. For example, reading the news or watching a violent movie, even if it is not directly related to the trauma, could impact your sleep. Try to identify what is making you feel unsafe in the evening. Through CBT therapy you would particularly look at the cognition associated with this fear at night. If you're not sleeping well, that's probably going to affect your overall mental health during the day. Also, I know flashbacks by nature can escalate quickly, but if you are able to notice cues that you are headed for a flashback (you can pay attention to physical, emotional, cognitive, and behvavioral cues), you may be able to de-escalate the situation slightly by using coping skills, such as deep breathing or pleasent imagery.  Anyway, I just really want to emphasize that PTSD is relatively common and is quite treatable. EMDR is a new treatment (not so much new actually, but more recently accessable to the general public) that has been used for a while with those who have served in combat. I have seen a number of clients find very significant results after just a couple sessions.  I wish you the best of luck, and just let me know if I can help or if you have any additional questions. Thanks, Nick 
(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 01/27/2022

Should I seek help?

Hello Frances,   I am glad you reached out on The BetterHelp Platform for some support and guidance with what you are struggling with in your life and with your relationships. To answer your question, I will share some information about anxiety and how you can implement some self-help skills as you find resources to assist that is cost effective for you (eg in the community, a local church organization).   When you can I would encourage you to consider seeking further help from a professional mental health counselor – someone who can share effective coping strategies and interventions with you. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States. According to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Menta Health, approximately 40 million adults experience anxiety in the U.S. alone. In her book Generation Me Dr. Jean Twenge, author, speaker, and professor of psychology, states three theories as to the major reasons for the rise in anxiety disorders in America: Poor community ties and poor social skills; Individuals being more self-centered and focused on money, fame, and image; and High expectations from oneself lead to anxiety disorders and depression. Shocking, but true, the more we advance technologically, the more we tend to degrade socially. Humans are social beings, and when the overuse of technology stunts the social side of our development, it causes less social interaction and overindulgence. This causes all kinds of disorders to develop in the human psyche. However, thanks to research and studies, people are becoming more aware of their situations and are again leaning on natural treatments. When treated naturally, mental disorders and anxiety treatments have little to no side effects and faster healing and recovery. Below is a list of 25 proven natural strategies that will help you manage your anxiety symptoms: Meditation: The very first thing you do when you wake up sets the tone for your entire day. The first things we do when we wake up are checking our emails on our phone/laptop or switching on the TV. By doing this, we are causing external stimuli to dictate our behavior. This act initiates a certain level of anxiety to develop in our psyche at the very beginning of the day. To break this cycle of anxiety and stress, researchers recommend that you start your day with meditation. Meditation helps you generate a sense of positivity and calmness as you prepare mentally for the day's challenges. Waking up Early: Morning hours are very stressful for a lot of people. A lot of multitasking happens at this hour, where people juggle getting ready for work, sending their children to school, and preparing breakfast. As mentioned earlier, setting the right tone at the very beginning of the day greatly helps reduce anxiety. Trying to get a lot of things done at the last minute in the morning can be extremely stressful and cause a lot of anxiety. To prevent this from happening, prepare for the next day by getting things ready the previous night. Small things, like selecting your clothes for the next day or preparing lunch and breakfast menu options, can greatly help reduce your anxiety. Research also states that waking up early will give you some time for yourself and help you prepare for the day. Enjoying some peace will greatly help you fight off anxiety. Praying: Apart from meditating, spending a few minutes in prayer is a great way to combat anxiety, according to studies. Negative thoughts generate a lot of stress, which, in turn, cause a lot of anxiety. The fear and worry leading up to an event, like an exam, meeting, or presentation, can cause you to feel anxious. Prayer helps dispel all of these negative thoughts and creates a sense of optimism. Mentally surrendering your thoughts and actions gives you the confidence and assurance that your day will go well; thus, this causes your anxieties to decrease. Eating Breakfast: It is not uncommon for people to forego breakfast as they rush out the door in the morning. According to Drew Ramsey, co-creator of The Brain Food Scale, co-founder of National Kale Day, and a member of the medical review team at Dr. Oz's web portal ShareCare, people who experience anxiety disorders often skip breakfast. He states that low levels of the food compound choline lead to increased levels of anxiety in individuals. To overcome this deficiency, he recommends eating eggs, which are a source of choline. Music: According to studies, listening to music is a great way to calm yourself and reduce anxiety. Listening to the music of your choice not only relaxes you but also helps you remove your focus from the source of anxiety. According to a Utah Pain Research Center study, music therapy helped people cope with their troubles and greatly helped reduce their body pain. Aromatherapy:  Studies state that smelling certain scents has a calming effect on our bodies. Lavender, according to research, has been found to reduce anxiety. Also, lighting scented candles or placing sweet-smelling lavender flowers in your house can be a great way to reduce anxiety and promote calmness. Socializing: Spending time with people you love and whose company you enjoy has been found to reduce anxiety. Going out for coffee, eating dinner together, scheduling a Skype call, or visiting an old friend are great ways to reduce anxiety. This study also states that maintaining meaningful relationships is essential to cognitive sharpness and brain development. People who maintain relationships and engage in social conversation were sharper and tended to remain healthy and happier. Engaging in social conversation tends to greatly reduce stress levels, causing recovery from anxiety and depression. Laughter Therapy: "I have not seen anyone dying of laughter, but I know millions who are dying because they are not laughing," said Dr. Madan Kataria. Laughter, they say, is the best medicine. Enjoying a good laugh with your friends, children, and relatives can be very therapeutic.   Laughter has been associated with many  health benefits and is an effective psychiatric medicine.  It reduces stress hormones, establishes feelings of well-being, lowers blood pressure, brings about pain relief, and improves cardiac health. Watching comedic movies or TV shows or being part of a laughter therapy group are other ways to add humor to your day. Studies state that even forcing yourself to smile can contribute to a sense of well-being. Avoiding Caffeine: Reducing your caffeine intake per day can greatly help reduce anxiety symptoms, as caffeine is a psychoactive drug that is intricately linked with mental disorders. Caffeine is not just present in coffee but in sodas, chocolate and tea. So, watch what you are eating and drinking. Reframe your Thinking: According to this study, negative thinking is a major factor contributing to anxiety disorders, and constantly worrying about things happening or not happening causes an individual to experience major stress. The only remedy to this problem is to alter your thought pattern. Thoughts greatly affect one's behavior. Changing your thought process from negative to positive is a proven way to reduce anxiety. Changing the negative thought immediately as soon as it pops into your mind is essential in reducing anxiety. Here are some examples of rephrasing your thinking: If a student thinks, "I will fail my exam," and they are engrossed in worry, they could try to rephrase it to the following: "I will not fail my exam because I have studied and have prepared well. The exam is going to be easy, and I am going to pass with flying colors." If someone thinks, "Something is going to happen to me, and I am going to die," they could rephrase it with, "Today is a beautiful day. I am blessed to be alive and surrounded by family and friends. Nothing bad is going to happen Today. Something good is in store for me." Avoid overscheduling: Having too many things to do can also cause anxious thoughts and behavior. Taking responsibility for a lot of things can make you feel tired and anxious. If you already have a lot on your plate, making extra commitments can lead you to feel overwhelmed, cranky and jittery. The pressure to get everything right can lead to stressful feelings and affect your mental health greatly. To combat overscheduling, try prioritizing your schedule. If certain work can be delegated, then don't be afraid to ask for help. It's OK that you're not superhuman. You can't do it all, all of the time. Breathing: Taking deep breaths to calm yourself is a great way to decrease anxious thoughts. Taking a deep breath not only calms you down but gives you time to reason and challenge a negative thought. Taking a deep breath slows down your heartbeat and powers up your system mentally and physically  to make an informed decision. Exercise: Exercising for 30 minutes per day significantly helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to studies, when we exercise, our bodies produce increased quantities of norepinephrine, a chemical that moderates the brain's response to stress.  Regular exercise has also been associated with increased feelings of happiness. Visualization: Visualization is a great relaxing technique. Thoughts greatly influence your actions; therefore, your thoughts must be optimistic. The visualization technique teaches you to use your imagination to reframe your thoughts into relaxing and calming scenarios. Imagining yourself in a safe and serene place greatly helps reduce your level of anxiety. For example, when you have anxious thoughts, replace them with visions of being on a beach, with the warm sand trickling down your feet, water splashing around you, and the tropical air blowing across your face. Yoga: Practicing yoga is a relaxing way to combat anxious thoughts and behavior. Yoga is a mind-body practice that uses a combination of exercises like breathing exercises, physical body poses, and relaxation techniques. These combinations of mind and body techniques ensure a complete physical and mental workout, thus, greatly reducing stress, blood pressure, and heart rate. Hot baths: A hot water bath is not only soothing for the body but greatly refreshes the mind, too. Adding essential oils like lavender and vanilla to your bath water can also be very calming. Studies state that adding Epsom salt to your baths can also help relax you. The magnesium sulfate in the salts has been found to greatly mild symptoms of anxiety and depression. Sunlight:  Exposing yourself to sunlight even for 15 minutes a day can cause your body to produce Vitamin D, which plays a major role in combating feelings of anxiety and depression. If you live in areas with little or less sunlight, try getting a lightbox and exposing yourself to its light for a few minutes each day. Chamomile Tea: Drinking three cups of chamomile tea per day, according to this study, has greatly helped in reducing levels of anxiety. This study states that chamomile contains apigenin and luteolin that help reduce symptoms of anxiety. If you are a tea lover, go to the supermarket, purchase some chamomile tea, and start enjoying its calming benefits. Diet: Mother Nature has bestowed the human race with some great natural anxiety fighting food which is extremely beneficial to the human body. Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts, fish, flax seeds, and other food items, like spinach, turmeric, milk, blueberries, avocado, asparagus, and almonds is "brain food." As the name implies, these foods promote brain development and help fight anxiety and depression. Sleep: Getting a good eight hours of uninterrupted sleep can be rejuvenating and therapeutic for your body. Proper sleep is the best medicine for most of our mental ailments. Most of the healing process takes place when the human body is sleeping and at rest. Interrupted sleep slows the repairing process in our body, causing us to feel tired and on edge. Avoiding screen time and stimulants like caffeine before bedtime is the best way to ensure a good night's sleep. Decluttering: A cluttered and messy house, workplace, etc.. has also been found to cause stress in some people.  A cluttered place bombards our minds with external stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime, leading the mind to be distracted and feel overloaded. This causes feelings of stress and negativity.  Organizing and decluttering your space and letting go of things  you don't need can be redeeming and therapeutic. Taking a Break: Take a break from your regular schedule and go on a vacation to greatly reduce stress and anxiety.  Spending too much time at work and being stressed out can increase anxiety and depression levels. Taking a vacation helps you shift your focus from all that stress to something enjoyable. It has been found that returning to work after a vacation greatly improves your performance and creativity. Nature: Studies have found that spending time in nature helps reduce symptoms of anxiety. Being outdoors helps you shift your focus from your anxious thoughts to the scenic nature. Plus, you can breathe in the fresh air and are exposed to sunlight. All these factors contribute to both a healthy body and a healthy mind. Surrendering control: Studies have found that people who prioritize remaining in control are more prone to anxiety disorders and depression. While letting go of control can be challenging, try to take your imperfections in stride. To err is human, after all. Therapy: Expressing negativity is important. You can do it by either talking with a friend, family member, or counselor. You can even express yourself through writing in a journal or an art piece. Hoarding negative thoughts can greatly affect your health and can manifest itself in psychosomatic disorders. You must express these negative emotions. Seeking help in the form of therapy helps you receive an experienced outlook from a non-biased viewpoint. Therapy is also useful if you don't know who to share your problems with or are far away from friends and family. Speaking to a counselor can help you feel validated and receive the help you need, depending on the severity of your condition. Try BetterHelp to talk with someone about your anxiety, depression, and more. Practicing these suggestions will help you manage your symptoms in a way tailored to you and your personality. There is hope, recovery is possible! I wish you much luck in your journey to seeking a healthier and happier life! In Kindness, Gaynor
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/27/2022

Whats the best way to deal with my anxiety?

Dear Dynamite,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/27/2022

How to help internal panic attacks that make you think of bad things happening to yourself randomly

I expect it is very frightening to have sudden thoughts such as picturing yourself passing out, having a seizure, or getting hurt seemingly pop into your mind out of nowhere.  The first thing I would ask you if we were in a counseling session and you were describing this is, have you ever experienced any of those medical emergencies in real life?  This could be yourself or even witnessing someone else have such a thing happen to them.  This information would help me better determine what we should work on and how to help you address this concern.   When a person has a panic attack, the body responds as though there is a life or death situation.  People report a number of different symptoms including racing heart rate, feeling hot or cold, tingling in extremities, difficulty breathing, inability to focus, upset stomach and a general feeling of dread are just a few.  In those situations, it might even feel like you are going to faint or have a seizure or heart attack.  It is important to be able to ground yourself and the best way to do this is to focus on the here and now.  What do you see?  What to you hear?  What can you smell?  What can you feel?  What can you taste?  By focusing on your sesnses, it can help bring you back to the present and start to calm you back down.  Then, the focus would be on breathing exercises to calm yourself.  The most commonly taught is one called 4-6-6 where you breath in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 6 seconds and then slowly exhale out of your mouth for 6 seconds.  This should be repeated and focused on several times before then breathing normally.  These two focuses would be the begining steps for treating the panic in the moment.  In counseling, the focus would then be on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  This is where you begin to identify your thoughts and be aware of them and how they in turn impact feelings and behaviors.  The more we are aware of our thoughts, the better we can control how we feel at times and then how we respond.  The things you are worried about are real fears- they are scary- but at the time when you have those thoughts, you are safe.  In counseling, desensitization, safety planning to know what to do and how to ask for help if you are in a situation where you might faint and working through it would be a focus of ongoing counseling.  
Answered on 01/27/2022

I am dealing with trouble being a young Adult in a big crazy world. How do I deal with this?

Hello Lissy, Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: I am dealing with trouble being a young Adult in a big crazy world. How do I deal with this? Dealing with anxiety on your own can be hard to do on your own so I am glad you have reached out for some support and guidance with what you are struggling withas you transition into your adult life. To answer your question, I will share some information about anxiety and how you can implement some self-help skills.  I would encourage you to consider seeking further help from a professional mental health counselor – someone who can share effective coping strategies and interventions with you. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States. According to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Menta Health, approximately 40 million adults experience anxiety in the U.S. alone. In her book Generation Me Dr. Jean Twenge, author, speaker, and professor of psychology, states three theories as to the major reasons for the rise in anxiety disorders in America: Poor community ties and poor social skills; Individuals being more self-centered and focused on money, fame, and image; and High expectations from oneself lead to anxiety disorders and depression. Shocking, but true, the more we advance technologically, the more we tend to degrade socially. Humans are social beings, and when the overuse of technology stunts the social side of our development, it causes less social interaction and overindulgence. This causes all kinds of disorders to develop in the human psyche. However, thanks to research and studies, people are becoming more aware of their situations and are again leaning on natural treatments. When treated naturally, mental disorders and anxiety treatments have little to no side effects and faster healing and recovery. Below is a list of 25 proven natural strategies that will help you manage your anxiety symptoms: Meditation: The very first thing you do when you wake up sets the tone for your entire day. The first things we do when we wake up are checking our emails on our phone/laptop or switching on the TV. By doing this, we are causing external stimuli to dictate our behavior. This act initiates a certain level of anxiety to develop in our psyche at the very beginning of the day. To break this cycle of anxiety and stress, researchers recommend that you start your day with meditation. Meditation helps you generate a sense of positivity and calmness as you prepare mentally for the day's challenges. Waking up Early: Morning hours are very stressful for a lot of people. A lot of multitasking happens at this hour, where people juggle getting ready for work, sending their children to school, and preparing breakfast. As mentioned earlier, setting the right tone at the very beginning of the day greatly helps reduce anxiety. Trying to get a lot of things done at the last minute in the morning can be extremely stressful and cause a lot of anxiety. To prevent this from happening, prepare for the next day by getting things ready the previous night. Small things, like selecting your clothes for the next day or preparing lunch and breakfast menu options, can greatly help reduce your anxiety. Research also states that waking up early will give you some time for yourself and help you prepare for the day. Enjoying some peace will greatly help you fight off anxiety. Praying: Apart from meditating, spending a few minutes in prayer is a great way to combat anxiety, according to studies. Negative thoughts generate a lot of stress, which, in turn, cause a lot of anxiety. The fear and worry leading up to an event, like an exam, meeting, or presentation, can cause you to feel anxious. Prayer helps dispel all of these negative thoughts and creates a sense of optimism. Mentally surrendering your thoughts and actions gives you the confidence and assurance that your day will go well; thus, this causes your anxieties to decrease. Eating Breakfast: It is not uncommon for people to forego breakfast as they rush out the door in the morning. According to Drew Ramsey, co-creator of The Brain Food Scale, co-founder of National Kale Day, and a member of the medical review team at Dr. Oz's web portal ShareCare, people who experience anxiety disorders often skip breakfast. He states that low levels of the food compound choline lead to increased levels of anxiety in individuals. To overcome this deficiency, he recommends eating eggs, which are a source of choline. Music: According to studies, listening to music is a great way to calm yourself and reduce anxiety. Listening to the music of your choice not only relaxes you but also helps you remove your focus from the source of anxiety. According to a Utah Pain Research Center study, music therapy helped people cope with their troubles and greatly helped reduce their body pain. Aromatherapy:  Studies state that smelling certain scents has a calming effect on our bodies. Lavender, according to research, has been found to reduce anxiety. Also, lighting scented candles or placing sweet-smelling lavender flowers in your house can be a great way to reduce anxiety and promote calmness. Socializing: Spending time with people you love and whose company you enjoy has been found to reduce anxiety. Going out for coffee, eating dinner together, scheduling a Skype call, or visiting an old friend are great ways to reduce anxiety. This study also states that maintaining meaningful relationships is essential to cognitive sharpness and brain development. People who maintain relationships and engage in social conversation were sharper and tended to remain healthy and happier. Engaging in social conversation tends to greatly reduce stress levels, causing recovery from anxiety and depression. Laughter Therapy: "I have not seen anyone dying of laughter, but I know millions who are dying because they are not laughing," said Dr. Madan Kataria. Laughter, they say, is the best medicine. Enjoying a good laugh with your friends, children, and relatives can be very therapeutic.   Laughter has been associated with many  health benefits and is an effective psychiatric medicine.  It reduces stress hormones, establishes feelings of well-being, lowers blood pressure, brings about pain relief, and improves cardiac health. Watching comedic movies or TV shows or being part of a laughter therapy group are other ways to add humor to your day. Studies state that even forcing yourself to smile can contribute to a sense of well-being. Avoiding Caffeine: Reducing your caffeine intake per day can greatly help reduce anxiety symptoms, as caffeine is a psychoactive drug that is intricately linked with mental disorders. Caffeine is not just present in coffee but in sodas, chocolate and tea. So, watch what you are eating and drinking. Reframe your Thinking: According to this study, negative thinking is a major factor contributing to anxiety disorders, and constantly worrying about things happening or not happening causes an individual to experience major stress. The only remedy to this problem is to alter your thought pattern. Thoughts greatly affect one's behavior. Changing your thought process from negative to positive is a proven way to reduce anxiety. Changing the negative thought immediately as soon as it pops into your mind is essential in reducing anxiety. Here are some examples of rephrasing your thinking: If a student thinks, "I will fail my exam," and they are engrossed in worry, they could try to rephrase it to the following: "I will not fail my exam because I have studied and have prepared well. The exam is going to be easy, and I am going to pass with flying colors." If someone thinks, "Something is going to happen to me, and I am going to die," they could rephrase it with, "Today is a beautiful day. I am blessed to be alive and surrounded by family and friends. Nothing bad is going to happen Today. Something good is in store for me." Avoid overscheduling: Having too many things to do can also cause anxious thoughts and behavior. Taking responsibility for a lot of things can make you feel tired and anxious. If you already have a lot on your plate, making extra commitments can lead you to feel overwhelmed, cranky and jittery. The pressure to get everything right can lead to stressful feelings and affect your mental health greatly. To combat overscheduling, try prioritizing your schedule. If certain work can be delegated, then don't be afraid to ask for help. It's OK that you're not superhuman. You can't do it all, all of the time. Breathing: Taking deep breaths to calm yourself is a great way to decrease anxious thoughts. Taking a deep breath not only calms you down but gives you time to reason and challenge a negative thought. Taking a deep breath slows down your heartbeat and powers up your system mentally and physically  to make an informed decision. Exercise: Exercising for 30 minutes per day significantly helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to studies, when we exercise, our bodies produce increased quantities of norepinephrine, a chemical that moderates the brain's response to stress.  Regular exercise has also been associated with increased feelings of happiness. Visualization: Visualization is a great relaxing technique. Thoughts greatly influence your actions; therefore, your thoughts must be optimistic. The visualization technique teaches you to use your imagination to reframe your thoughts into relaxing and calming scenarios. Imagining yourself in a safe and serene place greatly helps reduce your level of anxiety. For example, when you have anxious thoughts, replace them with visions of being on a beach, with the warm sand trickling down your feet, water splashing around you, and the tropical air blowing across your face. Yoga: Practicing yoga is a relaxing way to combat anxious thoughts and behavior. Yoga is a mind-body practice that uses a combination of exercises like breathing exercises, physical body poses, and relaxation techniques. These combinations of mind and body techniques ensure a complete physical and mental workout, thus, greatly reducing stress, blood pressure, and heart rate. Hot baths: A hot water bath is not only soothing for the body but greatly refreshes the mind, too. Adding essential oils like lavender and vanilla to your bath water can also be very calming. Studies state that adding Epsom salt to your baths can also help relax you. The magnesium sulfate in the salts has been found to greatly mild symptoms of anxiety and depression. Sunlight:  Exposing yourself to sunlight even for 15 minutes a day can cause your body to produce Vitamin D, which plays a major role in combating feelings of anxiety and depression. If you live in areas with little or less sunlight, try getting a lightbox and exposing yourself to its light for a few minutes each day. Chamomile Tea: Drinking three cups of chamomile tea per day, according to this study, has greatly helped in reducing levels of anxiety. This study states that chamomile contains apigenin and luteolin that help reduce symptoms of anxiety. If you are a tea lover, go to the supermarket, purchase some chamomile tea, and start enjoying its calming benefits. Diet: Mother Nature has bestowed the human race with some great natural anxiety fighting food which is extremely beneficial to the human body. Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts, fish, flax seeds, and other food items, like spinach, turmeric, milk, blueberries, avocado, asparagus, and almonds is "brain food." As the name implies, these foods promote brain development and help fight anxiety and depression. Sleep: Getting a good eight hours of uninterrupted sleep can be rejuvenating and therapeutic for your body. Proper sleep is the best medicine for most of our mental ailments. Most of the healing process takes place when the human body is sleeping and at rest. Interrupted sleep slows the repairing process in our body, causing us to feel tired and on edge. Avoiding screen time and stimulants like caffeine before bedtime is the best way to ensure a good night's sleep. Decluttering: A cluttered and messy house, workplace, etc.. has also been found to cause stress in some people.  A cluttered place bombards our minds with external stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime, leading the mind to be distracted and feel overloaded. This causes feelings of stress and negativity.  Organizing and decluttering your space and letting go of things  you don't need can be redeeming and therapeutic. Taking a Break: Take a break from your regular schedule and go on a vacation to greatly reduce stress and anxiety.  Spending too much time at work and being stressed out can increase anxiety and depression levels. Taking a vacation helps you shift your focus from all that stress to something enjoyable. It has been found that returning to work after a vacation greatly improves your performance and creativity. Nature: Studies have found that spending time in nature helps reduce symptoms of anxiety. Being outdoors helps you shift your focus from your anxious thoughts to the scenic nature. Plus, you can breathe in the fresh air and are exposed to sunlight. All these factors contribute to both a healthy body and a healthy mind. Surrendering control: Studies have found that people who prioritize remaining in control are more prone to anxiety disorders and depression. While letting go of control can be challenging, try to take your imperfections in stride. To err is human, after all. Therapy: Expressing negativity is important. You can do it by either talking with a friend, family member, or counselor. You can even express yourself through writing in a journal or an art piece. Hoarding negative thoughts can greatly affect your health and can manifest itself in psychosomatic disorders. You must express these negative emotions. Seeking help in the form of therapy helps you receive an experienced outlook from a non-biased viewpoint. Therapy is also useful if you don't know who to share your problems with or are far away from friends and family. Speaking to a counselor can help you feel validated and receive the help you need, depending on the severity of your condition. Try BetterHelp to talk with someone about your anxiety, depression, and more. So if there areas of your life that may need a little bit of work? That is completely normal. The goal is to simply do the best that you can as an adult. If you see an area you know you need work on, that's a great opportunity! You can use this new knowledge as a step towards adulting more successfully and manage your anxiety with more ease. Practicing the above suggestions can help you manage your symptoms and combined with some therapy  tailored for you will help you reach a healthier and happier life. There is hope and there is help for you! I wish you much luck in your journey to successful adulting. In Kindness, Gaynor  
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/27/2022

What should my next step be?

What should my next step be? I read where you shared that you have been struggling with a globus felling in your throat for 5 months now and you also share that you are currently experiencing pain in your neck and back. You shared that two months ago you also developed anxiety and panic attacks, because you have a feeling that your body is telling you something. You also shared that you feel like you are sick. You shared that you have a really difficult situation, as you shared that you are currently studying abroad. You shared that you have already been to doctors in your country and you had x-rays completed on your neck area. You shared that you have also visited doctors here and you shared that you were sent to physiotherapy. You shared that up until now nothing has changed, you shared that your status got worse and you also shared that you are getting lightheaded and dizzy. Hi, at this time I would highly suggest that you go back to your licensed professional primary care physician and or a licensed professional medical doctor or another local professional provider in your area to report that your symptoms have not been alleviated instead you can share with your primary care physician and or licensed medical provider that your symptoms are now worse.  Once you have been medically cleared from having any medical condition then I would recommend that you seek professional  help from a mental health provider. You can choose from a professional counselor and or professional therapist that can provide you with a referral to a professional psychiatrist and or medical if needed to discuss how medication may help you specifically to decrease your symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. A professional psychiatrist and or medical doctor can provide you with the best answer in reference to if what specific medications you may need to take. Therapy and medication together can help minimize the severity of your reported anxiety and panic attacks. Individuals who receive therapy and medication often see quicker improvements and overall better outcomes than those who only receive therapy or those individuals who only take medication in regards to dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. Symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks do not look the same for everyone; therefore, a professional counselor and or professional therapist can support you in discussing what your symptoms of anxiety panic attacks look like in your words. A professional counselor and or professional therapist can effectively assess your needs for mental health treatment in reference to your current symptoms and they can also provide you with assistance with medication management if you are prescribed medications to take for your symptoms from a professional psychiatrist and or medical provider. A professional counselor and or professional therapist can provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or talk-therapy to assess and identify your specific symptoms in regards to your symptoms of anxiety panic attacks. Cognitive Behavioral therapy has been proven very beneficial in helping individuals who deal with symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. Behavior interventions, Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have all been beneficial in treating individuals who have struggled with symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. A professional counselor and or professional therapist can assist you in learning how to effectively implement coping skills to decease your symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. A professional counselor and or professional therapist can introduce you to deep breathing techniques, stress relaxation techniques, calming techniques, grounding techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, positive interpersonal social skills and imagery as a means of decreasing your symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. In an effort to decrease your symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, you can also try to commit to changing the way you think. It will take a lot of practice, dedication and determination to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. However, trying to do this will help you feel better and it can lead to your feeling much better and becoming more productive. You can recognize when it is happening and when you find it happening you can choose to think about something more productive. You can also look for solutions by committing to learning from your mistakes and solving your problems so you can productively move forward, set aside time to think when you notice you are anxious and panicked outside of that scheduled time, remind yourself that you will think about it later, distract yourself with a self care activity and you can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the key to living in the "here and now." When you become mindful, you will be completely present in the moment. It can be like a form of meditation that takes a lot of practice, but over time and with consistency, it can be very beneficial in decreasing or eliminating uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks in an effort to help you experience an overall healthier mental well being. Overall, I highly recommend that you seek help from a professional counselor and or professional therapist to properly assess your symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks to decrease the emotional distress that has affected your personal life. Emotional and mental distress can look different for everyone because mental health is not a one size fits all. Therefore, it is very important to get personalized treatment for your specific and current mental and emotional needs in regards to your symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks at this time. I highly recommend that you contact the Betterhelp team to discuss what specific payment options and payment plans are available for you to access counseling services at this time. Betterhelp does offer financial aid and various other options for individuals who are seeking counseling for their personal and or emotional well-being through the use of affordable therapy sessions. The Betterhelp Platform is designed to be able to assist you better if you contact them directly. Contacting Betterhelp directly is the best way for them to verify your identity and securely help you with your specific account information and needs. When it comes to questions, issues or concerns in regards to the cost of using the Betterhelp platform please contact the Betterhelp team. You can reach out to the Betterhelp team for issues including but not limited to the following: billing issues, account questions and or concerns, and or subscription questions and or concerns. The Betterhelp members are there to help answer your questions, concerns and or issues, so if you have a question in regards to what the cost would be to begin using the Bettehelp platform you can contact the Beterhelp team members directly to gain accurate information in regards to what payment options are available for you if you decide to join the Betterhelp platform in regards to possibly talking to a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist. Please feel free to reach out to the Member Success Team directly by emailing contact@betterhelp.com to discuss what payment options are available for you to use the Betterhelp platform for you counseling needs and or therapy needs at this time. Best regards to you!  
(EdS, LPC-S, NCC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 01/27/2022

How can I know if I was diagnosed with panic disorder?

Panic attacks are sudden feelings of fear and/or discomfort. You may experience some or all of the following: pounding or racing heart, hot flashes or chills, trembling, breathing problems, feelings of choking, weakness or dizziness, tingling or numb hands, chest pain, stomach pain, nausea, derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (feeling detached from oneself), fear of losing control or going crazy, and fear of dying. The quick answer to your question is to try and breathe when you feel your panic starting to rise. I know this is easier said than done. Grounding exercises work with helping to manage symtpoms of anxiety/panic. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds. Repeat until you feel the panic/anxiety starting to subside. If that doesn't work, try using your 5 senses to ground yourself. Name 1 thing you see, 1 thing you can smell, 1 thing you can taste, 1 thing you can feel and 1 thing you can hear. You can keep repeating this until again, you feel your symptoms start to subside.  Simply put there are two different kinds of panic attacks: cued and uncued. Uncued panic attacks come from out of the blue. They do not have an identifiable source that sets them off.  Cued panic attacks are attacks with an obvious cue or trigger. These happen when a person is exposed to certain situations or objects where panic attacks have previously occurred.  Some other things you can do are: 1. Stick to your treatment plan if you are already engaged in therapy. 2. Join a support group (in-person or on-line) to talk to others experiencing the same or similar things as you are. 3. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, smoking and other recreational drugs. All of these can trigger or worsen panic attacks. 4. Practice stress management and/or relaxation techniques. Please see the breathing/grounding exercises I mentioned above. 5. Get physically active. Aerobic activity, even walking, can have a calming effect on your mood. 6. Get sufficient sleep if possible. If you find yourself having thoughts of ending your life, please contact the National Suicide Precention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 to talk to someone. 
(LMHC, MsED)
Answered on 01/27/2022

Is it possible for regular things you do affects a panick attack?

Dear Unique,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/27/2022

How can I adjust myself to relieve pressure and what's the better way to deal with Panic Attack?

There are many differnet techniques that you can use for panic attacks, here are some differnt ways to manage panaic attacks: Mental Grounding: Describe your enviornment in detail using all your senses (the walls are blue, there are 2 red chairs, there is a book shelf, there are 5 pictures on the wall, the bed is soft, the window feels cold) Play a categories game (think of types of dogd, types of cars, tv shows, sports) Describe an everday activty in detail (describe all the steps to a meal you cooked, a chore you did) Repeat a favorite saying (such as a prayer, psoitve statement)  Humor (tell yourself a funny story or listen to a persons funny story)  Physical Grounding:  Run cold or hot water over your hands  Holdning and squezzing an ice cube grab tightly to your chair as hard as you can and then relax hands/body Tough various objects around you (a pen, blanket, table) Carry a grounding object in your pocket (clay, rock, ring, piece of cloth) exercise Throw a ball back and forth Coloring Eating (hard candy) eat slowly (after each bite describe in detail what it tasted like Music  Blowing balloons/bubbles  Soothing Grounding: think of favorites (color, food, season, tv show, book) Look at pictures of people you care about Remember the words to a song Saying a coping statemnet over and over (i am ok, i will survive this, I am in control now)  Smelling oils Calling a friend These are many different grounding skills you can utilize, with managing panic attacks finding the proper combination of coping skills will assist you with gainign control over your panic attacks is very important. Consistency is key to mainatin proper mental health. Allow yourself room to grow and make error, we all make mistakes, remember you got this!  5-4-3-2-1 exercise name 5 things you see, 5 things you care hear, 5 things you can feel,   name 4 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 4 things you can feel  name 3 things you can see, 3 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel name 2 things you can see, 2 things you can hear, 2 things you can feel  name 1 thing you can see, 1 thing you can hear, 1 thing you can feel      
Answered on 01/27/2022

How to deal with anxiety pertaining to physical Symptoms/worrying about death when they occur.

Dear Anon1,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/27/2022

ways of how to cure my mental illness?

I am sorry to hear you are struggling with coping with such difficult things. It sounds like you have a done a great job so far navigating depression and being able to cope in a way that could pull you mostly out of those feelings. Depersonalization is typically brought on by panic and high anxiety, so it makes sense that you would be having that if you are also having panic disorder. Depearsonalization is often best met with mindfulness and awareness. I know that sounds simple but it can be super duper challening. Learning ways to ground yourself and being aware of the triggers you have can help you to keep from struggling as significantly. Here are some things to try to do that. 1) Grounding. Bringing awareness to your body and what is around you. My top recommendation would be progressive muscle relaxation. This is done by focusing on each muscle grouping in your body one by one and flexing those muscles for 5 seconds and then relaxing for 5 seconds. Continue doing this for 3 times per grouping starting at the top of your body working your way down. By doing this you will bring your focus into your body which can help alleviate those symptoms.  2) Triggers. Try keeping a log or a journal after or during an episode of depersonalization. Bringing awareness to the things that trigger or cause the anixety that leds to the depersonalization can help you start utilizng other coping skills sooner in effort to avoid it getting to that point. Sometimes triggers are not as obvious so I recommend logging where are you, what are you doing, who are you with, what time of day is it, and what thoughts and feelings you have surrounding those times.  I am not sure what skills you have in terms of coping, but there are plenty available. It would be wise to get a therapist who can help you to learn some so that once you recognize your triggers you can start utilizing them sooner than later and hopefully prevent an episode of depersonalization. Things like deep breathing, music, art and utilizing support systems can be a good place to start when it comes to coping.  I wish you the best as you navigate this, I know how scary and confusing this must be, but you are not alone!
(MS, LMHC, RPT)
Answered on 01/27/2022

How to get rid of PTSD

Hello Britt  I can imagine at 5 years old, that must have been so extremely terrifying. Our view of the world at that age - what we know and don't know - is still so limited. The developmental age that a trauma occurs play a huge role in how we interpret the event/trauma. If someone would get stuck in an outhouse at the age of 40, it may not be viewed as a trauma because a 40 year old likely has the information necessary to know what's going on and to figure out how to fix the situation (i.e. get out of the out house). However, having this happen at the age of 5, we may question whether or not we might die, think we will never get out, panic to the point we can't think straight. So age plays a huge role in how we interpret a trauma.  The definition of trauma is an emotional response to a deeply disturbing or distressing event. You are clearly had an emotional reaction to this event, and are still being retriggered when you experience something similar.  One way to start working on eliminating these negative symptoms, is to start changing how your brain responds when you are in a similar situation. If you were to (for example) get stuck in your car (lock won't work) and you start to panic, you can begin to talk to yourself. Take a few slow, deep breaths. Your dialog may go something like this: "I am not in danger. I am not 5 years old. I am safe. I will figure this out. I am safe." Repeat things like this over and over until your emotions are under control and you can start to think clearly.  Anxiety/fear clouds our judgement and we often can't think straight. So when you are feeling so much fear because you are trapped in somewhere, you won't be able to think clearly until you get the fear under control. Take the deep breaths, repeat the sayings about being safe and get the fear under control. Then start to figure out the situation. Once you are out of that situation, you have to remind yourself over and over that you were strong enough, brave enough, smart enough, to figure out how to manage the situation. The next time you get into something similar, your brain has experienced you being in control and manging your emotions. So your emotional response may not be as strong. Eaach time you get through a fearful situation, and you get through it in a healthy way, your brain learns you no longer need to panic. This is how you start to gain control over your emotions and then start to eliminate the symptoms of PTSD.   
(LCSW, CCTP)
Answered on 01/27/2022

how to move on from negative thoughts cause by panic attacks and anixety disorder,

  Hello Houssem,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How to move on from negative thoughts cause by panic attacks and anxiety disorder? I am glad you reached out with what you are going through in your life at the moment.  I can see that your anxiety symptoms are seriously interfering with your life.   I will share some information about your anxiety symptoms and how it can lead to a cycle of negative thinking that is hard to stop.   I will share also re some tools you can try yourself.  I would encourage you to reach out for support and guidance with learning how to manage your negative thought patterns.  Proven Techniques to Learn How to Deal with Anxiety How to Know if You Have Anxiety Anxiety is diagnosed by a trained professional, a psychologist or psychiatrist, but there are specific symptoms shared by most people with anxiety. Anxiety causes symptoms that are both mental and physical. These symptoms vary from person to person, and it is best to see a professional for diagnosis, but it never hurts to learn all you can in the meantime. Mental symptoms include excessive worry, apprehensive thoughts that disrupt your daily life, feelings of dread and fear that do not have a logical explanation, and exaggerated thoughts that make it difficult to focus and be productive. Physical symptoms include excessive sweating, blotchy skin, hives or rashes, racing heart, vomiting, headache, hyperventilation, numbness in the extremities, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness and in some cases chest pain and heart palpitations. For people with anxiety, the apprehension of "what if" leads to behaviors that are disruptive to their life. The distraction caused by anxious thoughts is only one piece of the puzzle. When anxiety goes unchecked, the anxious thoughts and behaviors begin to take their toll physically. Techniques for Dealing with Anxiety Dealing with anxiety can seem overwhelming and for some, dealing means avoiding situations that trigger anxious feelings and behaviors. There are many ways people try to deal with anxiety, and most of them hurt rather than help. It is important to understand that anxiety cannot be "cured", but it does not have to take over your life. You can learn to deal with anxiety in a constructive way that will help you control your reactions and behavior, when you are faced with anxiety. Anxiety begins with anxious thoughts; these thoughts can take on a life of their own. Social anxiety and panic attacks can accompany general anxiety or GAD. The techniques below will also help you deal with GAD and social anxiety too. When you notice anxiety beginning to take hold, use these proven techniques to learn how to deal with it in a constructive way: Control anxiety with thought recognition and behavioral modification Overcome social anxiety by challenging your negative thoughts Calm anxiety by practicing mindfulness and meditation Treat panic attacks with breathing exercises and physical exercise Talk to someone about your anxiety. Therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists understand, and they can help relieve anxiety by listening and providing more personalized techniques Reduce anxiety with diet and exercise Learn to Control Anxiety Dealing with anxiety requires some understanding and a few proven tools to help you deal with it. Learning to control anxiety isn't about stopping anxiety or fighting anxiety, it is all about regulating your reactions and modifying your behaviors. You can learn to control your reactions to anxiety and modify your behaviors if you learn to identify the situations that trigger anxiety and learn to recognize anxious thoughts when they arise. Once you know your anxiety triggers, you can actively modify your behavior. The following proven techniques will help you identify your triggers, modify your behavior, and work to control your anxiety before it controls you. Recognize Rumination ·          Rumination is the act of overthinking and mulling over thoughts that worry you and distract you from the present. During rumination, you will notice that your thoughts may be exaggerated and your decision making and problem solving is diminished. Once you recognize you are ruminating, you will be able to calm yourself by accepting the rumination as a symptom of anxiety and not something you need to act on. Recognize distortions in thought Once you recognize rumination, you will learn to recognize distortions in those ruminating thoughts. Thoughts that are stressful and worrisome cannot be ignored, that will just make things worse. If you learn to recognize these distorted thoughts, you will have the ability to let them pass without acting on them. These feelings and thoughts are real because they trigger anxiety, but you can learn to let them pass without acting once you recognize them for what they are. Sometimes these techniques are not enough to help you control your anxiety and admitting that is ok; as a matter of fact, admitting you cannot control everything is another technique for controlling anxiety! Everyone is different, so don't be harsh or judgmental with yourself. A professional therapist can help you use these techniques and others to help you control your anxiety. Overcoming Social Anxiety Social anxiety is characterized by an intense fear of social situations. For some, it may only surface during certain situations such as public speaking or attending a party; for others, it disrupts everyday living. Social anxiety has many facets and only a professional can diagnose this condition, but if you have symptoms of social anxiety, working on what you can is a step in the right direction. The most important thing to remember about social anxiety is that you are not alone, many people experience social anxiety and many of them have very public careers. Do not judge yourself for feeling the way you do, just accept that you cannot change everything and work on what you can change. The best way to change what you can is diffuse your negative thoughts and feelings. Examples of how to diffuse negative thoughts: When you think, others are thinking bad things about you, diffuse this thought by asking yourself "Why would this person or people think bad about me?" and/or "They don't even know me, they can't possibly be thinking bad things about me," or "They have enough going on in their lives, too much to be overly concerned with thinking critically about me." If you are thinking, "I know I am going to embarrass myself if I go to that party, I always embarrass myself." Diffuse this thought by asking yourself why you believe you will embarrass yourself, "always" is a strong word, are you sure you "always" embarrass yourself? Diffusing negative thoughts by questioning the reasoning behind the thought works quite well for easing social anxiety. Once you begin to question yourself and ask why you think or feel the way you do, you are forced to rationalize your thoughts and feelings. Rationalizing and anxiety don't mix, and in time as you practice, you will be able to classify your thoughts as rational or not and then decide about action based on that rather than the thoughts themselves. Calming Anxiety with Mindfulness and Meditation Mindfulness and meditation are both calming techniques that work by relaxing the mind and allowing it to release stress. Anxiety will not disappear because you practice mindfulness and meditation, but it will lessen, and you will gain a sense of calm that is hard to achieve without these techniques. Mindfulness and regular meditation can provide stability when anxiety threatens to take over. Mindfulness is the act of being present, in the moment, and aware of what is around you. Mindfulness is awesome in its simplicity, and with practice you will be able to calm your racing thoughts by tuning out and tuning in to something grounding in the moment. There are many free and helpful apps available to help you begin a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness should be cultivated daily to strengthen it as a skill, not just when anxiety is present. Note the things in your environment and really let them absorb you as you describe each one to yourself mentally. Meditation takes many forms, and it does not matter which one you choose. Meditation teaches us to be in control of our breathing and to clear our thoughts. Meditation helps put us in touch with our autonomic nervous system, and this has the potential to put us in control of lowering anxiety. Treating Panic Attacks with Exercise Panic attacks are sudden intense episodes of anxiety and fear that trigger physical reactions when there is no obvious danger or cause. Panic attacks can be disabling and completely disruptive to daily activity. Those who suffer from panic attacks know that the stress experienced earlier in the week can trigger a panic attack days later. If you think you suffer from panic attacks, it is important that you seek professional help for them, but it never hurts to do what you can to ease your symptoms. Exercise and breathing exercises can and do help those who suffer from panic attacks. Regular exercise can reduce the amount of adrenaline in your system because the body will work to regulate the adrenaline during and after exercise. Exercise changes the body's chemistry, and these chemical changes can lessen the occurrence and severity of panic attacks. Breathing exercises during a panic attack can lessen the duration of the attack itself. Breathing exercises can be as simple as counting the number of breaths you are taking, to focusing on regulating your breathing. Many times, panic attacks include hyperventilation or shortness of breath, so practicing breathing exercises will make it easier for you to focus on these exercises during an attack. Practice inhaling deeply for several seconds, holding your breath for a few seconds, and then taking several seconds longer than you inhaled to release that breath. This helps signal your body that your sympathetic nervous system can relax and that you aren't in danger. Although breathing exercises and physical exercise can and do help to treat panic attacks, you should still seek a professional diagnosis. Therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists can provide more diverse forms of treatment for panic attacks including support during or after an episode. Reducing Anxiety with Diet and Exercise If you suffer from anxiety, your diet and exercise patterns can affect the severity of your anxiety. What we eat has a huge impact on how our body and mind reacts to stress. Without the proper nutrition, we are vulnerable to the effects of anxiety in ways we don't even realize. The chemistry of our body changes depending on the food we eat, and this chemistry has a lot to do with anxiety. Sugar and caffeine should be avoided as both are stimulants. Stimulants can irritate the nervous system and place it on alert, making you more likely to experience anxiety or panic. Alcohol is a commonly used self-medication for anxiety, but with poor results. Alcohol should be avoided. Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make everything seem brighter and better. The chemical changes that take place during and immediately after exercise work wonders for stress and anxiety. Stress levels lower the more you exercise and regular exercise eases and reduces anxiety because the mind and body are focused on the activity and the endorphins will make sure you feel good about yourself. Talk to Someone These tips and techniques are meant to help you deal with anxiety, but nothing beats the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. Talking to someone who is a knowledgeable, trained professional, is one of the best ways to deal with anxiety. A therapist can provide insight, and help you develop a strategy for dealing with your anxiety. Talking to someone can ease your fears, keep you positive, and provide the support you need to continue moving forward. There is hope.  Recovery is possible and there is help available for you.   I wish you much luck with your next step in managing your symptoms of anxiety.   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/27/2022

How do you overcome social phobia (aniexty)

Hello,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How do you overcome social phobia (anxiety)? I am glad you reached out with the anxiety you are currently struggling with in your life.  I will share some information about social phobia and some self-help tools you can try as soon as today.  I will also send some information on how you can get some support and guidance with your anxiety (social phobia).   Social phobia, also known as social anxiety, is the third most common mental disorder in the United States. There are more individuals who are not diagnosed but still suffer from fear and anxiety in social situations, so the numbers are most likely even higher. Dealing with social phobias and social anxiety can result in physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms that can hinder your ability to go through daily life and make it more difficult to have relationships. While there are some things that you can do yourself to help minimize the impact of social anxiety in your life, working with a professional counselor can help give you the tools needed to cope with and overcome it. Individuals working with professional counselors who use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy alone have a high success rate of improving or recovering from their social anxiety. Social Phobia This is when you may feel overwhelmed by thoughts that someone doesn't like you or will think what you say is stupid, unintelligent, or unpleasant. It seems impossible to get rid of these thoughts, so, eventually, you'll start making excuses to friends and family to get out of going to events that you have planned with them. Before you know it, you are only doing the things you absolutely have to do, and you're avoiding everything else that involves social interaction with others. Ways to Overcome Social Phobia Social anxiety can hinder your ability to fully enjoy your life. This makes it hard to have a job. It makes it hard to have relationships. And, it can make it hard to experience the things you used to enjoy. While it may seem like an impossible task, there are things that you can do that can help you start the journey toward overcoming your anxiety. Challenge Irrational Thoughts If you're not speaking up in a business meeting, refraining from attending a party, or not asking for help in a department store because you don't want to speak, then you are exhibiting a social phobia in some way. The first step is to challenge the irrational thoughts that are hindering you from talking with strangers.  Talk to your colleagues, co-workers, friends, and family. Try to eliminate your safety nets one by one. Get rid of your training wheels a little at a time. Stop rehearsing what you will say in your head. Just say it. Don't drown your phobia in alcohol or drugs, as these forms of "courage" will only make matters worse. Rate Your Anxieties About Talking With Strangers Write down what makes you anxious about talking with someone you don't know. Then, rate each of those anxieties on a 0-10 scale. Level 0 would be feeling no anxiety, and level 10 would be a full-fledged panic attack or another intense side effect. Once you rate them, work your way up the scale and address each one. You'll start with the things that only bring you small amounts of anxiety. Once you push yourself to do that activity a few times, you will see that it doesn't put you in danger, and you will start to become more comfortable with that activity.   You can then move your way up to the next item. As you slowly become more comfortable with each action, you will work your way up the ladder. Eventually, you'll be able to take on and conquer the things on your list that used to cause you the most amount of fear. Begin To Practice Mindfulness Meditation If you have social anxiety, mindfulness meditation can help you in multiple ways. The first is that you will learn deep breathing exercises that can help you to calm yourself when you're faced with a situation that makes you feel anxious. Learning how to breathe deeply helps you to slow your heart rate and calm a nervous mind. When you become comfortable with the breathing exercises, they are something you can easily put into practice wherever you are and whenever you feel the anxiety coming on. You will also learn the practice of being mindful. Mindfulness is when you purposely focus your thoughts on something that is either neutral or pleasant. So instead of constantly thinking about the upcoming situation that makes you nervous, you choose to think about the way it felt when you were on the beach during your last vacation. You'll remember what the waves sounded like as they lapped around your ankles, what the saltwater smelled like, and how the warm sun felt on your skin. Then you will picture something like the sun setting over the horizon, and with this relaxing image, you will start to settle down. This works because instead of trying to get you not to worry about something, it gets you to purposefully focus your mind on something that's healthier for you to think about. Talk Where You Feel The Most Comfortable While it's important to help get over your fears of talking with someone you don't know, you can start by communicating where and with whom you feel most comfortable. Email a work request. If you don't receive an answer, then follow up in person or via phone. The more you do something, the more comfortable you will be. Talking more within your comfort zone will help ease you into getting over your phobia by making you feel like you are doing it on your terms. Track Your Successes Tracking the success that you're having is a good way to build confidence and encourage you to keep trying new things. Every time you're able to do something in a social situation that you had wanted to avoid, add it to your list of successes. You can even journal about the activity. When you are struggling in the future, you can look back on these for strength. Journal Keeping a journal can help you sort through your thoughts, help you identify patterns, track your successes, and allow you to recognize when you start to fall into old habits. All of this can be helpful in overcoming social phobia or anxiety. Practice Self-Care It's easy to let yourself go and focus on how you are feeling rather than making sure you are staying healthy. Practice a bit of self-care, such as eating healthy, taking a warm bath, exercising regularly, and other activities that nurture and promote your physical and mental health. Join a Support Group Join a support group that connects you with other individuals who are struggling with similar challenges and gives you a safe space to start working through your phobia and anxiety. One example is Toolmasters International which is a well-known support group for public speaking and can be a good place to meet new people and make new friends. Be Kind To Yourself The most important thing you can do throughout this entire process is to be kind to yourself If you had a bad day, it doesn't mean that you're a failure. It only means that you need to focus on the present and to continue practicing the techniques you are using to overcome your anxiety. See a Therapist If you have tried implementing the techniques listed above and still find that you have social phobia, enlisting the help of an in-person or online counsellor can help give you some new perspective and even new techniques. A therapist will also provide emotional support and understanding as you work through your phobia. BetterHelp Can Help You Overcome  One of the key characteristics of social phobia is a fear of going outside and interacting with others. This is what makes online counseling options like BetterHelp so great. With BetterHelp, you can talk to a licensed counselor via messaging, chat, phone, or video, whichever is most convenient and comfortable for you. You can also do this from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Working with a counselor as soon as you notice you are starting to struggle in social situations can help make the recovery process easier. Through BetterHelp, a counselor will help you find the tools and techniques that are best suited for you and your particular needs.
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/27/2022

How to change my anxiety trigger

Dear iMacki,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/27/2022

Why do I feel anxiety daily?

Hi Yin,  Thank you so much for reaching out of BetterHelp.  I appreciate the information you shared with me.  It must be very distressing to manage anxiety levels while you are in school.  Going to school, studying a high demand field, and dealing with the pandemic are tough.  I applaud you for being motivated to better yourself.  Sometimes, it can the most difficult step to take.  I hope the suggestions I share with you will help you manage your anxiety. -Exercise.  Try to do at least 30 mintues of cardiovascular exercise 3 to 4 times per week.  It can help you to regulate mood and increase oxygen to your brain. -5 senses.  Take notice of your environment.  What do you smell, hear, taste, touch, and see?  For example, while going on a walk try to find 5 items that are the color blue.  This exercise is meant assist in orienting you to the present.  Anxiety tends to either take the mind back the past or worry about the future. -Triple P. Permanent.  The way you feel right now will not be permanent.  Feelings diminish in intensity over time.  You may not feel the same way you did last week or a month ago.  Give yourself a chance to feel the feelings and ride through the waves of distress.   This is temporary. Pervasive.  There can be good/helpful forms of anxiety.  Not all forms of anxiety are bad.  It can help to motivate us to go to school, get out bed in the morning, and/or do a presentation.  Try to differentiate the differences between good stress (also known as eustress) and bad stress.  Some examples of bad stress are getting in to a car accident, coming home to a consistently stressful environment, and/or being a victim of a crime.  Remember, the concept of all or nothing does not apply to anxiety.  It is much more nuanced. Personalization.  Some stressors might not even be related to you.  For example, if server is rude to you at a restaurant it might not have anything to do with you.  Perhaps, the server recently heard bad news or was just reprimanded by their boss.  These incidents can cause a change in mood for most people.  We are all human an are not immune to the evironment around us. -Self care.  Do activities that you find soothing and relaxing.  Maybe you can get back to a hobby that you have not done for awhile.  Find ways to pamper yourself. Please take your time to custimize and try out the suggestions above.  See which ones you respond to the most.  Be patient with yourself and treat yourself with some compassion.  You deserve a chance to create your happy life. You do have a choice a to select me as your counselor.  I would be more than happy to provide you with more anxiety managment tools.  And, it would be a honor to assist you through your journey.  I look forward to hearing from you soon. Best,  Jeannie Meyers, LCSW
(LCSW, 74817)
Answered on 01/27/2022

Is my anxiety and panic attacks from having Covid 19

Hi Chris, I'm sorry that you are going through a difficult time even after your physical recovery from COVID 19 with the symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks and depression.  The body and mind are so closely connected with the health of one affecting the health of the other.  There is still research on the effects of COVID 19 on the brain and body even after a person is feeling better physically. Any sickness or life threat can be emotionally traumatic and can activate a trauma response.Emotional trauma is the end result of events or experiences that leave us feeling deeply unsafe and often helpless. Delayed responses to trauma can include persistent fatigue, sleep disorders, nightmares, fear of recurrence, anxiety focused on flashbacks, depression, and avoidance of emotions, sensations, or activities that are associated with the trauma, Emotional trauma can cause us to become detached from ourselves as well as others. It can create a lot of sadness, anxiety, fears and insecurities that we never knew existed. Emotional trauma can be crippling. It can affect our motivation, self-esteem and the ability to establish relationships with people. Emotional trauma can also lead to a lack of self-care. We may feel as though we are permanently damaged and will never heal. The pain and suffering feels like an eternity but as with all events in life, time can heal all wounds...if we allow it. Picture it like a corner in a small room. In the beginning, every time you move around you will hit that corner. Over time the room get's bigger and you are able to move around a little more but it is still there and will eventually get pressed. Our early experiences all shape our views of ourselves, others and the world. It can also determine how we handle stress and challenges in our lives. COVID 19 has definitely changed everyone's world view and we are more protective of those physical boundaries. It will be important to develop appropriate coping strategies, including the use of social supports, to deal with the aftermath and effects of what you have been through and what you are experiencing. We are here to help.
(MA, LCMHC)
Answered on 01/27/2022

how can I deal with stress and anxiety about my future and not being able to control everything?

Hello, Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How can I deal with stress and anxiety about my future and not being able to control everything? I am glad you have reached out for some support and guidance on how best to manage your stress and anxiety about all that is going on for you.  It certainly sounds like it is a lot for you to cope with on your own.   I will share some information about anxiety related matters and some self-help tools you can begin to try by yourself.  I will also discuss how with some professional mental health support you can make some positive changes in your life to manage these uncomfortable issues.   I would recommend you consider talking with your medical provider and how to reach out for professional support and guidance from a mental health counselor.  Someone who can teach you some effective coping skills.         Managing And Learning How To Deal With Anxiety     Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States. Approximately 40 million adults experience anxiety in the U.S. alone.   three theories as the major reasons for the rise in anxiety disorders in America:   1.    Poor community ties and poor social skills; 2.    Individuals being more self-centered and focused on money, fame and image; and 3.    High expectations from oneself, evidently leading to anxiety disorders and depression.   Shocking, but true, the more we advance technologically, the more we tend to degrade socially. Humans are social beings, and when the social side of our development is stunted by the overuse of technology, it causes less social interaction and overindulgence. This causes all kinds of disorders to develop in the human psyche.   However, thanks to research and studies, people are becoming more aware of their situations and are once again leaning on forms of natural treatments. When treated naturally, mental disorders and anxiety treatments have little to no side effects and lead to faster healing and recovery.   Below is a list of 25 proven natural strategies that will help you manage your anxiety symptoms:   Meditation: The very first thing you do when you wake up sets the tone for your entire day. Often, the first things we do when we wake up are to check our emails on our phone/laptop or switch on the TV. By doing this, we are causing external stimuli to dictate our behavior. This act initiates a certain level of anxiety to develop in our psyche at the very beginning of the day.      In order to break this cycle of anxiety and stress, start your day with meditation. Meditation helps you generate a sense of positivity and calmness as you prepare mentally for the day's challenges.   Waking up Early: Morning hours are very stressful for a lot of people. A lot of multitasking happens at this hour, where people are trying to juggle getting ready for work, sending their children to school and preparing breakfast. As mentioned earlier, setting the right tone at the very beginning of the day greatly helps reduce anxiety. Trying to get a lot of things done at the last minute in the morning can be extremely stressful and cause a lot of anxiety.   To prevent this from happening, prepare for the next day by getting things ready the previous night. Small things, like selecting your clothes for the next day or preparing lunch and breakfast menu options, can greatly help reduce your anxiety.   Waking up early will give you some time for yourself and will help you prepare for the day. Enjoying some peace and quiet will greatly help you fight off anxiety.   Praying: Apart from meditating, spending a few minutes in prayer is a great way to combat anxiety, according to studies.   Negative thoughts generate a lot of stress, which, in turn, cause a lot of anxiety. The fear and worry leading up to an event, like an exam, meeting, or presentation, can cause you to feel anxious. Prayer helps dispel all these negative thoughts and creates a sense of optimism. Mentally surrendering your thoughts and actions gives you the confidence and assurance that your day will go well; thus, this causes your anxieties to decrease.     Eating Breakfast: It is not uncommon for people to forego breakfast as they rush out the door in the morning. People who experience anxiety disorders often skip breakfast.  Low levels of the food compound choline lead to increased levels of anxiety in individuals. In order to overcome this deficiency, he recommends eating eggs, which are a source of choline.     Music: Listening to music is a great way to calm yourself and reduce anxiety. Listening to music of your choice not only relaxes you but also helps you remove your focus from the source of anxiety. According to a Utah Pain Research Center study, music therapy not only helped people cope with their troubles but also greatly helped to reduce their body pain.   Aromatherapy: Smelling certain scents has a calming effect on our bodies. Lavender, has been found to reduce anxiety. Also, lighting scented candles or placing sweet smelling lavender flowers in your house can be a great way to reduce anxiety and promote calmness.   Socializing: Spending time with people whom you love and whose company you enjoy has been found to reduce anxiety.  Going out for coffee, eating dinner together, scheduling a Skype call or visiting an old friend are great ways to reduce anxiety according to this This study also states that maintaining meaningful relationships is essential to cognitive sharpness and brain development.   People who maintain relationships and engage in social conversation were found to be sharper and tended to remain healthy and happier. Engaging in social conversation tends to greatly reduce stress levels, causing recovery from anxiety and depression.   Laughter Therapy:  I have not seen anyone dying of laughter, but I know millions who are dying because they are not laughing. Laughter, they say, is the best medicine. Enjoying a good laugh with your friends, children and relatives can be very therapeutic.   Laughter has been associated with many health benefits and is known to be an effective psychiatric medicine as it reduces stress hormones, establishes feelings of well-being, lowers blood pressure, brings about pain relief and improves cardiac health. Watching comedic movies or TV shows or being part of a laughter therapy group are other ways to add humor to your day. Studies state that even forcing yourself to smile can contribute to a sense of well-being.   Avoiding Caffeine: Reducing your caffeine intake per day can greatly help reduce symptoms of anxiety, as caffeine is a psychoactive drug that is intricately linked with mental disorders. Caffeine is not just present in coffee but in sodas, chocolate, and tea. So, watch what you are eating and drinking.   Reframe your Thinking: Negative thinking.  Constantly worrying about things happening or not happening causes an individual to experience major stress. The only remedy to this problem is to alter your thought pattern. Thoughts greatly affect one's behavior. Changing your thought process from negative to positive is a proven way to reduce anxiety. Changing the negative thought immediately as soon as it pops into your mind is essential in reducing anxiety.   Here are some examples of rephrasing your thinking:   If a student thinks, "I will fail my exam" and they are engrossed in worry, they could try to rephrase it to the following: "I will not fail my exam because I have studied and have prepared well. The exam is going to be easy and I am going to pass with flying colors." If someone thinks, "Something is going to happen to me, and I am going to die," they could rephrase it with, "Today is a beautiful day. I am blessed to be alive and surrounded by family and friends. Nothing bad is going to happen today. Something good is in store for me."     Avoid over scheduling: Having too many things to do can also cause anxious thoughts and behavior. Taking responsibility for a lot of things can make you feel tired and anxious. If you already have a lot on your plate, making extra commitments can lead you to feel overwhelmed, cranky and jittery. The pressure to get everything right can lead to stressful feelings and affect your mental health greatly.  In order to combat over scheduling, try prioritizing your schedule. If certain work can be delegated, then don't be afraid to ask for help. It's OK that you're not a superhuman. You can't do it all, all of the time.   Breathing: Taking deep breaths to calm yourself is a great way to decrease anxious thoughts. Taking a deep breath not only calms you down but gives you time to reason and challenge a negative thought. Taking a deep breath slows down your heartbeat, powers up your system mentally and physically so you can make an informed decision.   Exercise: Exercising for 30 minutes per day significantly helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to studies, when we exercise, our bodies produce increased quantities of norepinephrine, a chemical that moderates the brain's response to stress. Regular exercise has also been associated with increased feelings of happiness.   Visualization: Visualization is a great relaxing technique. Thoughts greatly influence your actions; therefore, it is important that your thoughts are positive and optimistic. The technique of visualization teaches you to use your imagination to reframe your thoughts into relaxing and calming scenarios. Imagining yourself in a safe and serene place greatly helps reduce your level of anxiety. For example, when you are having anxious thoughts, replace them with visions of being on a beach, with the warm sand trickling down your feet, water splashing around you and the tropical air blowing across your face.   Yoga: Practicing yoga is a relaxing way to combat anxious thoughts and behavior. Yoga is a mind-body practice that uses a combination of exercises like breathing exercises, physical body poses and relaxation techniques. These combinations of mind and body techniques ensure a complete physical and mental workout, thus, greatly reducing stress, blood pressure and heart rate.   Hot baths: A hot water bath not only is soothing for the body but greatly refreshes the mind, too. Adding essential oils like lavender and vanilla to your bathwater can also be very calming. Studies state that adding Epsom salt to your baths can also help relax you. The magnesium sulfate in the salts has been found to greatly calm symptoms of anxiety and depression.   Sunlight: Exposing yourself for sunlight even for 15 minutes a day can cause your body to produce Vitamin D, which plays a major role in combating feelings of anxiety and depression. If you live in areas where there is little or less sunlight, try getting a light box and expose yourself to its light for a few minutes each day.   Chamomile Tea: Drinking three cups of chamomile tea per day, has greatly helped in reducing levels of anxiety. This study states that chamomile contains apigenin and luteolin that help reduce symptoms of anxiety. If you are a tea lover, go to the supermarket and purchase some chamomile tea and start enjoying its calming benefits.   Diet: Mother Nature has bestowed the human race with some great natural, anxiety-fighting food, which is extremely beneficial to the human body. Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts, fish, flax seeds, and other food items, like spinach, turmeric, milk, blueberries, avocado, asparagus and almonds are "brain food." As the name implies, these foods promote brain development and help fight anxiety and depression.   Sleep: Getting a proper eight hours of uninterrupted sleep can be rejuvenating and therapeutic for your body. Proper sleep is the best medicine for most of our mental ailments. Most of the healing process takes place when the human body is sleeping and at rest. Interrupted sleep slows the repairing process in our body causing us to feel tired and on edge. Avoiding screen time and stimulants like caffeine before bedtime is the best way to ensure a good night's sleep.    Decluttering: A cluttered and messy house, workplace, etc.. has also been found to cause stress in some people.  A cluttered place bombards our minds with external stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime, leading the mind to be distracted and feel overloaded. This causes feelings of stress and negativity.  Organizing and decluttering your space and letting go of things you don’t need can be redeeming and therapeutic.   Work and anxiety.   Spending too much time at work and being stressed out can increase anxiety and depression levels. Taking a vacation helps you shift your focus from all that stress to something enjoyable. It has been found that returning to work after a vacation greatly improves your performance and creativity.   Nature: Spending time in nature helps reduce symptoms of anxiety. Being outdoors helps you shift your focus from your anxious thoughts to the scenic nature. Plus, you are able to breathe in fresh air and are exposed to sunlight. All these factors contribute to both a healthy body and healthy mind.   Surrendering control: Studies have found that people who prioritize remaining in control are more prone to anxiety disorders and depression. While letting go of control can be challenging, try to take your imperfections in stride. To err is human, after all.   Therapy: Expressing negativity is important. You can do it by either talking with a friend, family member or counselor. You can even express yourself through writing in a journal or in an art piece. Hoarding negative thoughts can greatly affect your health and can manifest itself in psychosomatic disorders. It is very important that you express these negative emotions.   Seeking help in the form of therapy helps you receive an experienced outlook from a non-biased viewpoint. Therapy is also useful if you don't know who to share your problems with or are far away from friends and family. Speaking to a counselor can help you feel validated and receive the help you need, depending on the severity of your condition. Try BetterHelp to talk with someone about your anxiety, depression and more.   Practicing these suggestions will help you to manage your symptoms in a way that is tailored to you and your personality and allow you to push through all of your current stressors.   There is hope, recovery is possible and there is help available for you.   I wish you much luck with your next step in managing your anxiety and living a happier life.   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/27/2022

Is anxiety cureable

Hello Unain,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: Is anxiety curable? I am so glad you reached out for some guidance about your anxiety.   There isn't a cure for anxiety as such but there are many effective and evidence based therapies to help you manage and cope better with your symptoms and the causes of your stress and anxiety.   I see you have identified your source of anxiety as LGB related matters and how this physically increases your stress and anxiety.      I will share some information about anxiety related matters and how with some professional mental health support you can make some positive changes in your life to manage these uncomfortable issues.   I would recommend you consider talking with your medical provider and also reaching out for professional support and guidance from a mental health counselor.  Someone who can teach you some effective coping skills.  Talk with someone supportive and non judgemental about your issues relating to LGB matters too.       Managing And Learning How To Deal With Anxiety     Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States. Approximately 40 million adults experience anxiety in the U.S. alone.   three theories as the major reasons for the rise in anxiety disorders in America:   Poor community ties and poor social skills; Individuals being more self-centered and focused on money, fame and image; and High expectations from oneself, evidently leading to anxiety disorders and depression.   Shocking, but true, the more we advance technologically, the more we tend to degrade socially. Humans are social beings, and when the social side of our development is stunted by the overuse of technology, it causes less social interaction and overindulgence. This causes all kinds of disorders to develop in the human psyche.   However, thanks to research and studies, people are becoming more aware of their situations and are once again leaning on forms of natural treatments. When treated naturally, mental disorders and anxiety treatments have little to no side effects and lead to faster healing and recovery.   Below is a list of 25 proven natural strategies that will help you manage your anxiety symptoms:   Meditation: The very first thing you do when you wake up sets the tone for your entire day. Often, the first things we do when we wake up are to check our emails on our phone/laptop or switch on the TV. By doing this, we are causing external stimuli to dictate our behavior. This act initiates a certain level of anxiety to develop in our psyche at the very beginning of the day.      In order to break this cycle of anxiety and stress, start your day with meditation. Meditation helps you generate a sense of positivity and calmness as you prepare mentally for the day's challenges.   Waking up Early: Morning hours are very stressful for a lot of people. A lot of multitasking happens at this hour, where people are trying to juggle getting ready for work, sending their children to school and preparing breakfast. As mentioned earlier, setting the right tone at the very beginning of the day greatly helps reduce anxiety. Trying to get a lot of things done at the last minute in the morning can be extremely stressful and cause a lot of anxiety.   To prevent this from happening, prepare for the next day by getting things ready the previous night. Small things, like selecting your clothes for the next day or preparing lunch and breakfast menu options, can greatly help reduce your anxiety.   Waking up early will give you some time for yourself and will help you prepare for the day. Enjoying some peace and quiet will greatly help you fight off anxiety.   Praying: Apart from meditating, spending a few minutes in prayer is a great way to combat anxiety, according to studies. Negative thoughts generate a lot of stress, which, in turn, cause a lot of anxiety. The fear and worry leading up to an event, like an exam, meeting or presentation, can cause you to feel anxious. Prayer helps dispel all of these negative thoughts and creates a sense of optimism. Mentally surrendering your thoughts and actions gives you the confidence and assurance that your day will go well; thus, this causes your anxieties to decrease.     Eating Breakfast: It is not uncommon for people to forego breakfast as they rush out the door in the morning. People who experience anxiety disorders often skip breakfast.  Low levels of the food compound choline lead to increased levels of anxiety in individuals. In order to overcome this deficiency, he recommends eating eggs, which are a source of choline.     Music: Listening to music is a great way to calm yourself and reduce anxiety. Listening to music of your choice not only relaxes you but also helps you remove your focus from the source of anxiety. According to a Utah Pain Research Center study, music therapy not only helped people cope with their troubles but also greatly helped to reduce their body pain.   Aromatherapy: Smelling certain scents has a calming effect on our bodies. Lavender, has been found to reduce anxiety. Also, lighting scented candles or placing sweet smelling lavender flowers in your house can be a great way to reduce anxiety and promote calmness.   Socializing: Spending time with people whom you love and whose company you enjoy has been found to reduce anxiety.  Going out for coffee, eating dinner together, scheduling a Skype call or visiting an old friend are great ways to reduce anxiety according to this This study also states that maintaining meaningful relationships is essential to cognitive sharpness and brain development.   People who maintain relationships and engage in social conversation were found to be sharper and tended to remain healthy and happier. Engaging in social conversation tends to greatly reduce stress levels, causing recovery from anxiety and depression.   Laughter Therapy:  I have not seen anyone dying of laughter, but I know millions who are dying because they are not laughing. Laughter, they say, is the best medicine. Enjoying a good laugh with your friends, children and relatives can be very therapeutic.   Laughter has been associated with many health benefits and is known to be an effective psychiatric medicine as it reduces stress hormones, establishes feelings of well-being, lowers blood pressure, brings about pain relief and improves cardiac health. Watching comedic movies or TV shows or being part of a laughter therapy group are other ways to add humor to your day. Studies state that even forcing yourself to smile can contribute to a sense of well-being.   Avoiding Caffeine: Reducing your caffeine intake per day can greatly help reduce symptoms of anxiety, as caffeine  is a psychoactive drug that is intricately linked with mental disorders. Caffeine is not just present in coffee but in sodas, chocolate and tea. So, watch what you are eating and drinking.   Reframe your Thinking: Negative thinking.  Constantly worrying about things happening or not happening causes an individual to experience major stress. The only remedy to this problem is to alter your thought pattern. Thoughts greatly affect one's behavior. Changing your thought process from negative to positive is a proven way to reduce anxiety. Changing the negative thought immediately as soon as it pops into your mind is essential in reducing anxiety.   Here are some examples of rephrasing your thinking:   If a student thinks, "I will fail my exam" and they are engrossed in worry, they could try to rephrase it to the following: "I will not fail my exam because I have studied and have prepared well. The exam is going to be easy and I am going to pass with flying colors." If someone thinks, "Something is going to happen to me, and I am going to die," they could rephrase it with, "Today is a beautiful day. I am blessed to be alive and surrounded by family and friends. Nothing bad is going to happen today. Something good is in store for me."     Avoid over scheduling: Having too many things to do can also cause anxious thoughts and behavior. Taking responsibility for a lot of things can make you feel tired and anxious. If you already have a lot on your plate, making extra commitments can lead you to feel overwhelmed, cranky and jittery. The pressure to get everything right can lead to stressful feelings and affect your mental health greatly.  In order to combat over scheduling, try prioritizing your schedule. If certain work can be delegated, then don't be afraid to ask for help. It's OK that you're not a superhuman. You can't do it all, all of the time.   Breathing: Taking deep breaths to calm yourself is a great way to decrease anxious thoughts. Taking a deep breath not only calms you down but gives you time to reason and challenge a negative thought. Taking a deep breath slows down your heartbeat, powers up your system mentally and physically so you can make an informed decision.   Exercise: Exercising for 30 minutes per day significantly helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to studies, when we exercise, our bodies produce increased quantities of norepinephrine, a chemical that moderates the brain's response to stress. Regular exercise has also been associated with increased feelings of happiness.   Visualization: Visualization is a great relaxing technique. Thoughts greatly influence your actions; therefore, it is important that your thoughts are positive and optimistic. The technique of visualization teaches you to use your imagination to reframe your thoughts into relaxing and calming scenarios. Imagining yourself in a safe and serene place greatly helps reduce your level of anxiety. For example, when you are having anxious thoughts, replace them with visions of being on a beach, with the warm sand trickling down your feet, water splashing around you and the tropical air blowing across your face.   Yoga: Practicing yoga is a relaxing way to combat anxious thoughts and behavior. Yoga is a mind-body practice that uses a combination of exercises like breathing exercises, physical body poses and relaxation techniques. These combinations of mind and body techniques ensure a complete physical and mental workout, thus, greatly reducing stress, blood pressure and heart rate.   Hot baths: A hot water bath not only is soothing for the body but greatly refreshes the mind, too. Adding essential oils like lavender and vanilla to your bathwater can also be very calming. Studies state that adding Epsom salt to your baths can also help relax you. The magnesium sulfate in the salts has been found to greatly calm symptoms of anxiety and depression.   Sunlight: Exposing yourself for sunlight even for 15 minutes a day can cause your body to produce Vitamin D, which plays a major role in combating feelings of anxiety and depression. If you live in areas where there is little or less sunlight, try getting a light box and expose yourself to its light for a few minutes each day.   Chamomile Tea: Drinking three cups of chamomile tea per day, has greatly helped in reducing levels of anxiety. This study states that chamomile contains apigenin and luteolin that help reduce symptoms of anxiety. If you are a tea lover, go to the supermarket and purchase some chamomile tea and start enjoying its calming benefits.   Diet: Mother Nature has bestowed the human race with some great natural, anxiety-fighting food, which is extremely beneficial to the human body. Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts, fish, flax seeds, and other food items, like spinach, turmeric, milk, blueberries, avocado, asparagus and almonds are "brain food." As the name implies, these foods promote brain development and help fight anxiety and depression.   Sleep: Getting a proper eight hours of uninterrupted sleep can be rejuvenating and therapeutic for your body. Proper sleep is the best medicine for most of our mental ailments. Most of the healing process takes place when the human body is sleeping and at rest. Interrupted sleep slows the repairing process in our body causing us to feel tired and on edge. Avoiding screen time and stimulants like caffeine before bedtime is the best way to ensure a good night's sleep.    Decluttering: A cluttered and messy house, workplace, etc.. has also been found to cause stress in some people.  A cluttered place bombards our minds with external stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime, leading the mind to be distracted and feel overloaded. This causes feelings of stress and negativity.  Organizing and decluttering your space and letting go of things you don’t need can be redeeming and therapeutic.   Work and anxiety.   Spending too much time at work and being stressed out can increase anxiety and depression levels. Taking a vacation helps you shift your focus from all that stress to something enjoyable. It has been found that returning to work after a vacation greatly improves your performance and creativity.   Nature: Spending time in nature helps reduce symptoms of anxiety. Being outdoors helps you shift your focus from your anxious thoughts to the scenic nature. Plus, you are able to breathe in fresh air and are exposed to sunlight. All these factors contribute to both a healthy body and healthy mind.   Surrendering control: Studies have found that people who prioritize remaining in control are more prone to anxiety disorders and depression. While letting go of control can be challenging, try to take your imperfections in stride. To err is human, after all.   Therapy: Expressing negativity is important. You can do it by either talking with a friend, family member or counselor. You can even express yourself through writing in a journal or in an art piece. Hoarding negative thoughts can greatly affect your health and can manifest itself in psychosomatic disorders. It is very important that you express these negative emotions.   Seeking help in the form of therapy helps you receive an experienced outlook from a non-biased view point. Therapy is also useful if you don't know who to share your problems with or are far away from friends and family. Speaking to a counselor can help you feel validated and receive the help you need, depending on the severity of your condition. Try BetterHelp to talk with someone about your anxiety, depression and more.   Practicing these suggestions will help you to manage your symptoms in a way that is tailored to you and your personality.   There is hope, recovery is possible and there is help available for you.   I wish you much luck with your next step in managing your anxiety and living a happier life.   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/27/2022