The prompt for my International Zine Month 2020: Zine A Day project for Day 23 was Anxiety. For me, that meant writing all about my experiences with Anxiety…
Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It is a feeling of fear or apprehension. If your feelings of anxiety are extreme, last for longer than six months, and are interfering with your life, you may have an anxiety disorder.
I have an anxiety disorder. My triggers are social interactions, health issues, anger, and being overwhelmed. Anxiety feels different for everyone. I often feel out of control, like there is a disconnect between my mind and my body.
This zine contains some methods I have found useful in helping to calm me down from an anxiety attack…
- Focus on taking deep breaths in and out through your mouth, feeling the air slowly fill your chest and then slowly leave again. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a second, and then breathe out for a count of four. Repeat as needed.
- Think about something that makes you happy. Note every single detail of it. Play out different scenarios in your head that fill you with peace. The more details you can add, the easier it is to focus on feelings of happiness and calm. I like to think about what art project I want to work on next, and plan out every small element of how I will create it. The tranquillity is in the details.
- Make a cup of tea. Focus on the ritual of making the tea. Pick a blend with a soothing smell – camomile has a perfect calming effect. Wrap your fingers around the warm cup, breathe in the steam while you wait for it to cool, and let the sips you take calm you from the inside out. This is my favourite method, in my opinion everything is made better with a cup of tea.
- Keep essential oils on hand. Lavender is noted for its relaxation properties, but you can pick out scents that make you feel happy and calm. You can use essential oil burners in your home, or place a dab on your wrist, and breathe the smell in. I keep a small bottle of rose scented essential oil in my bag at all times.
- Worrying is the worst part of an anxiety attack. If you have a pen and paper to hand, try writing out the things that worry you. This not only gives you something to focus on, but later when you feel calm again, you will be able to start to work through the things that have been building up as worries. I also like to doodle while doing this, it can help to scribble things out.
- If you can, drink some water, and try to eat something. Even if you can only make the food, it will give you something else to centre on. Hydrating is especially important. Take small sips, and really focus on the liquid, roll it over your tongue, taste every drop. This can really help to ease some of your panic. I like to imagine myself standing on the seashore to feel calm.
- Go for a walk, or participate in a physical activity. Prompting your body to work on something that requires effort can take the panic away from your mind as you channel it into exertion. Going for a walk can also allow you to enjoy the natural world around you, even on a busy urban street. Watch the birds, admire the weeds, look up at the trees, and let them promote a calm inside you.
- Reach out to someone you trust, if you can. It is good to be able to build a support network around you of people you know will make you feel better about your anxiety (and avoid those that make you feel worse). Together, you may be able to find strategies that will calm an anxiety attack. Never underestimate the power of support, and of being seen.