Living with anxiety is not glamorous, attractive, or easy. Spending every minute of the day dwelling on the “what ifs” and coming up with every possible worst-case scenario so that one is prepared if something goes wrong. Witnessing your body struggling to communicate what is going on inside your head, watching your hands tremble and hearing your voice shake can be terrifying, yet you have no choice but to try and cope.
Breathlessness, nausea, and heart palpitations become a regular occurrence but even then, you continue to go about life as if nothing is wrong - as if something is not constantly holding you down, telling you that you are not good enough.
Don’t you see it? You’re a fighter. You are not only fighting against all issues outside of your head but also inside - trying to beat the voice that tells you that you are inadequate and incapable. That, in itself, is a huge deed. It is a sign of strength. It is a sign of unwavering determination.
That being said, the unwanted side effects which come with this fight can be draining. It is important to acknowledge not only what is going on inside your head, but also the effects it is having on your physical health. Here are a few healthy coping mechanisms:
1. Grounding techniques:-
· Breathing exercise: Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds and breathe out for 4 seconds. Repeat this exercise until you relax.
· Put on slow, soothing music and try to focus on the sounds around you.
· Try the 5-4-3-2-1 method: Using your senses, try to notice things around you. For example, it can be 5 things you hear, 4 things you see, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste.
· Go for a long walk and focus on your steps or actions around you.
2. In case these techniques do not work for you, try to reach out to a friend and let them help you. Tell them what you need in that moment to feel better - whether you would like to talk about how you’re feeling and help rationalise it, or just need distractions so you can focus elsewhere. There is so much power in talking about the things no one talks about. Surround yourself with individuals who do not judge you for who you are and only want to see you do better.
Lastly, social anxiety is a legitimate mental health issue that may require proper medical attention. It is not shameful to ask for help and one does not need to “wait for it to get worse” if they already feel awful. Psychologists and psychiatrists are there to help you get better. You will get better.
It is okay to ask for help.