5 Things To Do When Anxiety Has A Grip On You

Living with vision loss can also mean living with anxiety. This I know.

There were a lot of things I took for granted when I was fully sighted. Being able to see who, or what, was around me was one of them. Not having the ability to do a visual check of my surroundings has been a difficult adjustment for me. The feelings of uncertainty, fear, and loss of control can ramp up my newfound anxiety to the level of panic in a matter of minutes. 

I remember the first time panic swept over me. I had been legally blind for about a month (2013), and trying desperately to handle it like a boss. Yeah, this blind thing was NOT going to interrupt my life. Nope. Not lettin’ it, just like a boss.

Anyway, I was shopping with my daughter, in a very busy department store. She wanted to go look at something in another part of the store, and I said okay. I told her I would stay where I was and wait for her. As people (whose faces I can’t see), walked by me, around me, and bumped into me. I could feel the anxiety creeping in. The minutes felt like hours as I stood there by myself. Tears welled up in my eyes, my heart began to race, my hands were shaking, and my breathing was a bit erratic.

gaspI began to set off all the mental fire alarms as I started overthinking…”where is she? Why is she taking so long? Maybe I should go look for her. I can’t do that, I’ll get lost. I wouldn’t know which person she was anyway. What if she doesn’t remember where I am? I should have gone with her. I can text her…. Shit, I have her phone. Is she lost? She’s 14, I’m sure she’s fine. I hope. OMG, this is my life now. I hate this. I can’t do this. I’m trapped here. I need to get the f*ck outta here!”. 

As I was succumbing to the feelings much like a lost little girl, I heard “Hey mom, do you like this…(she paused), Are you okay?”.

“NO. We need to leave right now!”. So, we did.

That was my first panic attack. I was a hot wreck of a mess. I had no control over my emotions as I stood in the store. A store I had been in many, many times before I lost vision. What the hell just happened to me? I was crumbling. I felt totally defeated. I only knew one thing. This was my vision loss’s fault. I was caught in It’s trap and It had stripped away my confidence, courage, and control. At the same time, it filled me with stress, self-doubt, and a super sized scoop of fear. Not only did I have to deal with the vision loss, but anxiety too. 

Unfortunately, the kind of panicky incident I described above, was the first of many since losing my vision.

I know prescribed medications can be very useful for generalized anxiety and panic disorders. If meds work for you, fantastic! I’ve been on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications a few times in my life and if they do the trick, then take as prescribed under the care of a your doctor.

There are other things you can do if you’re trying to avoid prescription meds. I have adopted some natural ways to keep my anxiety at a manageable level and sometimes undetectable.

Here Are 5 things to do when anxiety has a grip on you: 
1) Exercise

20 to 30 minutes of exercise can reduce your anxiety level. If you’re really anxious, hop on a treadmill, lift some weights, or walk & talk with a friend. Releasing that nervous energy will allow you to feel calmer when you’re done.

2) Eat Something

Many times people get more anxious and agitated when they are hungry. When you get an anxiety attack, it may mean your blood sugar is dropping. The best thing to do is to have a quick sustaining snack. Something like a handful of almonds, or a fruit & nutt bar, or a piece of dark chocolate, along with a glass of water or a nice cup of hot herbal tea. Keeping healthy snacks on hand at your home or office, can keep you from getting “Hangxious”!

3) Stop Catastrophic Thinking

When you’re ambushed by anxiety, your mind goes to the awful – paralyzing – most horrible scenario and the possibility that it will happen! At that point, you are “catastrophizing” the situation, (like what I did in the department store with my daughter). You first need to learn to recognize when you’re drowning in this type of thinking. Once you can do that, you can stop it, breathe, get some fresh air if possible,   perhaps talk to someone you trust, and get back to reality before your mind spins out-of-control. Chances are a catastrophic outcome is a lot less likely than you think when you’re consumed with anxiety.

4) Love Some Lavender

I have heard that the intoxicating aroma of lavender is like an “emotional anti-inflammatory”. It is calming, relaxing, and can help reduce stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Here are a couple of ways to use the oil. Put a few drops of lavender essential oil in a diffuser to infuse the air in your home, (I have one in my bedroom). Place a few drops between the palms of your hands, rub together, and inhale deeply for a calming affect. A few drops can be placed in the shower or bath for a relaxing bit of me time. Lavender candles, lotions, and hand soaps are nice too.

5) Just Breathe

Yoga breathing has been shown to be effective in lowering stress and anxiety. Years ago, Andrew Weil, MD, introduced a classic yoga breathing technique he calls the 4-7-8 breath

Here’s how to do the “4-7-8 breath” technique:

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth.
  2. Inhale through your nose for a count of four.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  4. Exhale out slowly through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat this three to five times, at least twice a day.

Just so ya know… I still fall into the grips of high anxiety from time to time. Especially when I let vision loss hold me hostage. I suspect anxiety may always be a part of my life from now on, but, at least I have, and now YOU have, some things to do when anxiety has a grip on me…or you!! Stay strong. And, If all else fails, there’s always chocolate martinis! xx


8 Comments on “5 Things To Do When Anxiety Has A Grip On You

  1. I’ve had panic attacks for decades (after effect of an abusive spouse). I didn’t acknowledge them for years because i didn’t want to give anyone in authority an excuse to declare me an unfit mother.
    I learnt methods of minimising them that worked for me.
    I was totally unprepared for the panic that assailed me when it was definite new prescription in the specs couldn’t help . Nothing had really changed, my vision was still almost as bad with my specs as without; my headaches, nausea and dizziness were caused by my specs magnifying the effects of the distortions i was seeing. I stopped wearing them indoors alone, then when walking in the street, i threw them away on Saturday nine months after i stopped using them.
    If I’m shopping with others and they “just go to get…..” I stand holding the shopping trolley (cart) trying to calm myself for two reasons 1) I’m an independent grown up 2) if i don’t stay calm my Charlie Hat Moments (Charles Bonnet Syndrome hallucinations) get way out of hand and I’ve lost the ability to override them (…. Oh my I’m surrounded by velociraptors and characters from coraline with buttons where their eyes should be, and is that shiny thing a cyberman from doctor who…. No because they are all sharp and in focus and therefore rubbish your brain is inventing… Now where is X? How long does it take to choose that item?…… Ah your back. No of course you can go and find that new item. Yes of course I’ll be fine. Oh my the velociraptors are back, what new hell is this?… Why has that person got a carved wooden face? Logic switch to on…. the fuzzy blur must have a tan. Come on X get a move on!!)
    As a typical old fashioned Brit i don’t make a fuss, then as the abused spouse i learnt to make less fuss, then trying to stay off the grid so no one would know what an awful mother i was, guess I’m just used to not letting people see my my panic to the point of invisibility.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My first real anxiety attack was knowing I was faced with blindness,I felt like the world around me was crumbling be me my husband sold my check that know longer can go anywhere by myself..Two but they depend on me for everything I’m the glue that holds everything together.Three when you hear people talking about you like you can’t hear either, well she don’t look blind full madness went over me so I asked my doctor am I suppose to look different are something since I lost my eye sight. No Sweetie everyone’s blindness is different they just don’t understand you are the one to educate them about blindness still crying. Well when at home my husband and son was going to surprise me with a new spice rack in my cabinet and I went into a full-blown anxiety attack like no other I couldn’t find anything I left the kitchen crying and crying my husband come in my room and asked baby what’s wrong we were just trying to help I said but you’re messed up my cabinet I can’t find anything to cook with ,so how am I supposed to be a wife a mama if I can’t do for y’all at all the one thing that’s important to cook for my family. I know I burn things a lot more then most but it made me feel like I still have a place in my family besides just being blind. I think the madness and the most hurt I felt was my sister had surgery I asked her if she need help an she replied to me “What Can A Blind Person Do To Help Me “at that time all I seen was red I had know way out besides calling my husband back to come get me because he dropped me off at the hospital ,So he could go to the doctor. I felt hurt, alone, scared and my panic attack went in full force as I sat outside her door the nurse come up ma’am can I help you well if you don’t mind could you please bring me to the closest waiting room till my husband gets back Thank God she said Yes !!! I wish more people would try to understand what we as blind people go through. Thanks Maria for always Blogging to help us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have found anxiety the hardest thing to deal with. That fight or flight response seems to be. Always there. Your suggestions are good ones.I find that if I focus on the task at hand it gets easier to get past the rough spots. The “what ifs” are a problem, but when I have accomplished whatever it is I am trying to do, it helps me to move to the next thing on the list. Keep moving forward!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m going to be doing those things this morning. You know something is coming. You’re okay with it. Then it comes, and you say, ‘Bring it on.’ Then you think about it in the night. By lunch I’ll be ready again. Bring it on. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a great article Maria! You write so well, your honesty about this sensitive subject is really refreshing and your advice is particularly helpful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: