Updated: Mar 26, 2021
At the age of 24, Matt Haig decided that he’ll jump from a cliff and kill himself. His life wasn’t good and he was suffering from crippling anxiety. A condition where fear takes total control over you, you start breathing heavily, your heartbeats increase their frequency and you cannot concentrate on anything. Haig walked till the edge of the cliff and was just one move away from falling down when he stopped. He decided that he’ll not give up this gift of life. He decided to keep living.
Years later, at the age of 45, Matt Haig is a successful writer with several books under his belt. His book ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’ is a bestseller. It is a memoir about how Haig learned to live with his depression and anxiety order.
What’s more? His book ‘A Boy Called Christmas’ has been made into a feature film and it will be releasing this year. His story is proof that suicide is never an option and there is a way to fight the demon of anxiety.
The rise of anxiety disorder among students
A study conducted in Universiti Malaysia Pahang looked at 770 students (395 males, 375 females) and asked them about what made them anxious. Exam related anxiety was found as the primary source and students cited lack of preparation as a reason.
Secondly, students felt anxious about delivering presentations and a lot of them suffered from an increased heart rate. After that, students had mathematical anxiety when they were unable to understand the subject. Some students also suffered from language anxiety when it came to foreign languages. Lastly, a few students complained of having social anxiety while interacting with their batchmates.
If you’re a student suffering from anxiety, the best way to deal with it is to approach it and not avoid it. Don’t avoid classes by staying in bed all day. Instead, try following a routine that helps you attend classes on time.
It’s also important to follow healthy habits like eating well, sleeping sufficiently and exercising regularly. Limiting the use of alcohol and caffeine too will help. A lot of students are addicted to consuming copious amounts of coffee which aggravates anxiety.
From a visualization method to exercise, the best ways to get rid of anxiety
An effective visualization method to get rid of anxious thoughts can be done by comparing them to trolls. We’ve all seen online trolls. They’re the ones who abuse celebrities and comment from anonymous handles. Understandably, they’re blocked as soon as they are seen.
Taking a similar approach towards anxiety can be helpful. When you have negative thoughts about your self-esteem or get worried about a situation that is not in your control, breathe and think of these thoughts as trolls. All you need to do is block them and you’ll be happier.
If this fails, you could look at trying medication. A lot of anti-anxiety pills are SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and they increase the amount of serotonin in your brain. While they’re recommended for people having extreme anxiety, they may also have a few side-effects. SSRIs have been known to cause weight gain, induce nausea, lead to diarrhea and trigger headaches. Some common examples of SSRIs are Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro and Celexa. You can read more about the other types of anti-anxiety medications here.
Along with medication, you should also consider exercising as it can help lower anxiety levels. Physical workout releases neurotransmitters (like endorphins) in our brain which give us a feeling of euphoria. Exercise also helps in lowering your perception of pain.
Breathing deeply, cycling, jogging and running are all examples of exercise that can be used in the fight against the anxiety demon. That said, people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are advised to not exercise as it may aggravate symptoms. In case you have GAD, your doctor will be able to give you other effective treatment options.
From using a breathing technique to meditation, conquer anxiety with these methods
Discovered by HeartMath Institute, this technique works by instantly (just 60 seconds) bringing the chemicals in your brain under control. All you have to do is focus on your heart and breathe deeply. Imagine that you are breathing in and out from your heart. Once comfortable, experience a regenerative emotion like appreciation or care for someone you love and you’re done. Considering its simplicity, you can try this technique anytime and anywhere.
You can also start fixing your gut as a healthy stomach equals a calm mind. If your gut bacteria are causing problems in your stomach, it has a direct impact on your mood. One way to bring anxiety under control is to lower your intake of sugar (or quit it completely). Bad gut bacteria love feeding on sugar and they may multiply if you give them that resource. Alternatively, you can have probiotic foods like yoghurt, sweet potatoes and dark chocolate. They help in regulating your gut bacteria which in turn keeps anxiety at bay.
Lastly, you can make meditation your ally in your fight against anxiety. It might seem like a daunting task at first, but it has a lot of benefits if you persist with it. It brings your mind in sync with your body and produces wonderful sensations when you do it properly. There are a lot of guided meditations available on YouTube which are specific to your problem. If you’re anxious because of a bad break-up, you might want to do the ‘Letting Go’ meditation.
If you’re anxious about your health, you can do a ‘Healing Illness’ meditation. In these videos, talented voice artists like Jason Stephenson and Rasa Lukosiute give your subconscious mind the right suggestions that helps in resolving anxiety.
The Urruda take
At Urruda, we whole-heartedly empathize with those suffering from anxiety. We want them to never lose hope and keep taking measures to stay calm. With time and treatment, this condition can be brought under control. We also hope that more people become aware about anxiety and understand the challenges associated with it. Nobody should discard anxiety as an ‘attitude problem’ or ‘laziness’.