Trish Barillas is a life coach, speaker, and author with over a decade of experience helping her clients with their anxiety. She herself is a survivor of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Panic Disorder, so she not only has professional experience helping her clients, but also has personal experience when it comes to this topic as well. She wrote the contributor piece below and shares some great tips that you can do right now to help navigate your day if you have anxiety. We hope you will try these on and see what connects with you.
By: Trish Barillas:
What if this feeling never leaves?’
‘What if I never experience happiness again?’
What if …
What if I can give you some hacks to help ease the discomfort, would you be willing to try? As a lifetime anxiety/panic attack sufferer, I can speak from personal and professional experience that you can manage your anxiety. I have been through many anxious ‘cycles’ in my life. So severe that I was too scared to walk out my front door, too scared to show up to work and even too scared to eat. I didn’t know how to cope with my anxious brain.
The first step to understanding anxiety in my opinion, is to accept it. Accept that it is happening, accept that it’s uncomfortable, and most importantly, accept that we all fight our individual daily battles. When you can accept, you limit the power that anxiety has over your life. When you’re feeling extremely anxious and spiraling down that ‘what if’ drain to nowhere, here are some hacks to try:
- Last Night A DJ Saved My Life: Feel Good songs
Music has been used as a healing tool for centuries. Creating a playlist with some of your favorite ‘dance around the room’ tunes will help to quickly shift your mood. In my experience, the most effective method is to choose songs that you can sing aloud to. Recalling the words can move you out of the anxious thought cycle you’re stuck in by taking the attention off of the internal dialogue. When we sing and belt out tunes, we are also using our diaphragm, which increases oxygen to the brain. This goes hand in hand with deep breathing techniques. If this isn’t something you regularly practice, singing can have similar benefits.
- Bathroom Break: Cold water on wrists
Run cold water over your wrists in the sink, palms facing up for a minimum of two minutes. Cold water benefits our nervous system, circulation, stress response, and speeds up recovery, all of which contributes to a natural high and a boost in mood and attitude. Your brain will start to focus on the cold water and can help break the body’s response to your anxious thoughts.
- Hi Amygdala, it’s me Trish: Speak to your Amygdala
The amygdala is small and almond shaped and sits at the base of our brain. It is essential in helping us respond to our environment and registering emotional information. It regulates the fight or flight response which is designed to protect us. However, sometimes there can be a misfire in communication with the rest of the body. When anxiety is heightened, try speaking directly to your amygdala. Tell it you are safe, and that there is no immediate danger. This can decrease the intensity of your anxious thoughts. Understanding what is responsible for processing these messages to the brain is helpful in order to manage the symptoms.
- Worst Case Scenario: Play out the fear
When you start having these uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, don’t push or pray them away. It sounds counterintuitive, but invite these thoughts to come in. For example, if you’re so anxious that you don’t want to go to work for fear of what could happen, allow your thoughts to finish the story. It would look like this: “I’m so scared to be anxious at work…what if I flip out, what if I start to cry, what if I start shaking” etc.. Now, let’s finish the story with solutions, which would look like this: “If I go to work and start to cry, I’ll go to the bathroom and run my wrists under cold water, whilst listening to my favorite song,” or “If I’m still not calmer and I start to shake, I’ll allow my body to shake. I’ll let my body do what it needs to do to let the adrenaline run its course.”
- I Feel You: Give yourself permission to feel
It’s okay to have these bouts of debilitating anxiety cycles in our life. Give yourself permission to be human, to be unsure; and then ask for help. Feelings are fleeting. Feelings aren’t facts, they come and go just like clouds on a warm sunny day. When the waves of anxiety come crashing, acknowledge them, observe them. Try to write down or record what it is you feel. When we embrace the rush of emotions, we begin taking action. We begin to accept the experience and more importantly, we begin to accept ourselves. Hopefully this can reduce the fear, which is the fuel that drives anxiety.
Sometimes it’s easy to feel like we are split into two different people. The person we know we are, and the anxious person, filled with uncertainty. We are both. When you start to feel anxious, be gentle with yourself. Consider this part of yourself a blessing; a gift that makes you more human.
Trish Barillas has been a Life Coach for over a decade specializing in anxiety, breakups and job advancements. Trish is the author of the first ever Instabook @afaceofanxiety an autobiography of her journey living with anxiety/panic disorder. She is also the founder of 3GS Charity where she helps raise funds for rural villages in Guatemala. Trish likes to call herself a creator of positive change.