Keep a chart or journal on your progress and successes–no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Gradual improvements may be hard to see on a day-to-day basis, so keeping a written record can help you to see evidence of overall improvement. Awareness of triumphs bolsters confidence, creates further motivation, and lessens anxiety.
Express yourself! If you are feeling anxious or fearful, express those feelings to another person, or speak into a tape recorder, or write it down on paper. Expressing such feelings is an excellent and often underrated anxiety buster!
Find a good friend to talk to. Being able to share and express your feelings and thoughts can be very instrumental in promoting feelings of well-being. (Be sure you find a non-judgmental friend who listens with caring. And be sure you are not just “crying on a shoulder” all the time.) Honest communication is anxiety reducing.
Learning to say “no” may be a key in alleviating some of the underlying anxiety which some folks experience. Taking on too much responsibility and/or doing things simply because we think we “should” (when we really don’t have the time or desire) can leave us feeling drained or even deeply angry. Assertiveness training can be a great aid in learning how and when to say “no.”
Attention to self-image can be a key denominator in our quest for good emotional health. To employ a sound plan for healthful eating, attaining a healthy weight and level of fitness, is one aspect of achieving a desirable level of self-caring. In doing this, we feel good about ourselves, develop needed self-confidence and initiate good habits that will assist in further anxiety reduction.
Here is a super simple “energy medicine” technique intended to create quick calming of the nervous system. (For more information and techniques, see popular teacher/author Donna Eden’s book Energy Medicine for Women: Aligning Your Body’s Energies to Boost Your Health and Vitality)
Find ways to have fun! No matter how limited you may feel you are at this time, do whatever you can to seek out pleasure. Having an anxiety disorder can be so absorbing of our attention and energies, that we may come to believe that pleasure is not even possible. How about listening to your favorite music? Is there a comedy on television that you would like? Can you play cards with a friend? Or play “store” with your small children? Can you have a picnic on your back patio?… Feelings of enjoyment are said to carry with them “good chemical messengers” in the brain and can enhance your recovery process. Besides, you deserve to have some FUN.
Take time out for yourself! No matter how busy your life may be or the demands you have, it is important and anxiety-reducing to make time to do things which are important, nurturing, and life-enhancing for YOU.
Can a dog be supportive? Many recovering agoraphobics report that when venturing out “alone” (while practicing their desensitization processes), their pet dog is right there with them as a comforting companion. From taking walks to outings in the car, your dog can really act as “man’s best friend” in being, shall we say, your “support dog!”
Find friendship. Having a relationship based on trust and honesty found in a good friend can be anxiety-relieving for many reasons. To confide in a good friend, to share the “good and not-so-good” times, to help and be helped–these things and more are the benefits of having and being a true friend.
“There is an erroneous belief that by accommodating the limitations of the agoraphobic you are prolonging the problem. This is not true.”
-Melvin D. Greenauthor of LIVING FEAR FREE
“For too long, we have let the stigmas and fears associated with mental illness define our health care policies. And, for too long, we have treated ailments of the body as somehow more urgent than ailments of the mind. But make no mistake, depression is just as debilitating as a broken leg–and just as treatable”
-Donna E. Shalala
Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services
“Letting go of panic is a learned skill.”
-Terence J. Sandbek, Ph.D.
“Meeting challenges and enduring them, even though such experiences are often fraught with pain, is part of the great drive in human nature to expand beyond previously accepted limits.”
“Realize that no one’s ever died from a panic attack and that it passes. ‘This too shall pass’ is one of the most important, powerful little lines in the Bible. And I would say that to myself, ‘And this too shall pass.’ And by golly, it did.”
“A ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships were built for”
“It’s important to recognize that emotional problems are an illness. They’re diagnosable and treatable. A great deal of progress has been made in recent years. You wouldn’t leave an injured neighbor or a child with a broken arm to heal by themselves. You’d go for help. We should be ready to seek help for this kind of illness too.”
“Do you know what the number one public concern is?… the answer is Drug Abuse and Alcoholism. It probably will surprise you to learn that Anxiety Disorders affect more people than this Alcoholism and Substance Abuse combined”
-Stephen Cox, M.D.President of the National Anxiety Foundation
“There is one thing we can do better than anyone else: we can be ourselves.”
-William Arthur Ward
“Even months after a patient thinks she is cured, she may unexpectedly flash panic in a moment of stress. This can so shock her that she may think that she has had a setback. The agoraphobe should be warned about the traps memory can set, and be taught to recognize and not be fooled by them. The patient should also be taught that overcoming setbacks is an invaluable part of recovery, and that with enough experience in negotiating them, she will learn the way out so well that she no longer fears the way in.”
-Dr. Claire Weekes