The above has become my mantra. I suffer from severe anxiety. Anxiety is one of those co-existing conditions of fibromyalgia. If I take a moment to realize the fears that are leading to a full-blown panic attack are irrational, I can usually talk myself out of an attack. Usually. Even after 20 years of practice, this is not a given.
If you suffer from anxiety it is imperative you work on three things:
- Physical hygiene.
- Mental hygiene.
Knowledge. Doctors, educational articles, and the internet are full of information! Listen, read and learn. If you are reading informative articles that speak to you, print them out, put them in a binder! Keep a journal! (A journal will be handy when you want to keep track of your physical and mental hygiene progress as well.) Record in your journal the articles you found that day for your binder. What did those articles mean to you?
Physical hygiene. Sorry but yep, exercise. MODERATE exercise, we are not entering any bodybuilding competitions here. Walk. Just walk. Even 15 minutes a day will help you to clear your thoughts. There are days when I can only make it to the end of the block and back. But I go! I usually do shorter walks three times a day. Now, in Minnesota, incremental weather can keep you housebound. So have a backup plan. Pick out two of your favorite songs and just move! Have your own dance party and be silly! Is your pain too severe to move? Sit in a rocker and rock! Those calf muscles push the blood to your heart. While you rock just focus on your breathing, inhale pulling in your stomach slowly then exhale letting your stomach muscles relax. Record your walks, your dance parties, and/or your rocking chair minutes in your journal. Seeing the exercises you have completed will boost your momentum to continue to care for your physical hygiene that meets your needs.
Mental hygiene. What do you say to yourself on a daily basis? Are you your biggest cheerleader? No? Start cheering! Find ‘feel good’ quotes and put up around your house. Find your own personal mantra, learn it and repeat it to yourself often. You must get sleep. Use whatever you need to fall asleep. I listen to thunderstorms on my TV, but I put a blanket over the screen. I have used noise machines, and fans… try things and see what works for you. Tea, warm baths, do whatever routine you find to accomplish restful sleep. If you need medication to get to achieve restful sleep, go get some medication! Sleeping equals healing. Record what works for you in your journal.
Panic Attacks. Sometimes, the anxiety hits fast, and you are in panic attack mode. Stop everything and sit down. Breathe! Tell yourself you’ve been here before and you made it through. Go someplace else in your mind. Think of your favorite memory, a favorite vacation spot, maybe a place you envision in your dreams to be your safe place. Wherever or whatever it is, go there. Keep telling yourself you will make it through, you will make it through… record panic attacks in your journal and see if you can find a pattern.
Now let’s get real. I had a flare yesterday. Did I go out for a walk? No. I was physically unable. I did take medication for the pain, and I did take medication to help me sleep. Do I do everything I laid out in this blog? No. I do not always do everything. I do make an effort, an attempt. There are days when just surviving is a substantial momentous achievement. You must be proud of these days. Record them in your journal, “I made it through a rough day! I am a Warrior!”