How to Deal with Anxiety – The End of the Most Nebulous Diseases of Our Times
First, there was the sweat.
Then the heart pumping furiously.
I thought it would penetrate my chest.
Then the uncontrollable breathing made me lose control over my body.
I started making circles inside the apartment expecting that the pace of my walking will allow me to calm down.
It didn’t work.
Every thought kept generating more anxiety and the lack of control kept making me feel weaker.
I tried to regulate my breath but it was pointless.
I needed help.
My phone was on the table and I tried to call my brother hoping that he could save me somehow.
It took him almost 20 minutes to reach my flat. That was the longest 20 minutes of my life.
I tried to lie on the bed and lift up my feet in a desperate hope that the change in the blood flow would make my body change state. Nothing changed.
My helplessness made my brother feel unease. I have never seen his face so frightened before.
He immediately called an ambulance that took another 20 minutes to arrive. These 20 minutes felt like eternity.
The presence of the paramedics helped me feel a bit safer.
When we reached the hospital, I was still feeling awful but I knew that the doctors would help me understand what was going on.
We did all the required tests and, on a neurological level, I was totally fine. However, my whole body was shaking and I thought that I could collapse at any time.
The doctor held my hand and started talking to me. Talking always helps because it distracts your mind.
She asked me what was going on and if I was in a lot of pressure lately.
I couldn’t really talk but I nodded.
She told me that I had an anxiety attack but also that everything will be fine.
Her hand was like a safety anchor for me. Letting it go would make my heartbeat skyrocket again.
Then a nurse came and handed her a pill. She asked me to take it.
At that point, I would do whatever she told me. After 30 minutes the pill started kicking in and I was in paradise.
This was my first ever anxiety attack. It took me 31 years to experience one and I hope that I will never have to go through a similar scenario again.
For 2 months I was struggling to recover completely and a plethora of factors contributed to my recovery. 1
My life was quite erratic and turbulent at the time. I had problems with my ex-girlfriend, my business wasn’t going well and I was in an environment quite hostile to my constitution.
An anxiety attack or any other byproduct of anxiety is not something born out of happenstance. It is a situation infringed upon most of us through a series of bad choices we make and by immersing ourselves in the wrong environments and lifestyles.
Each human must reckon with pressure to keep up with a perpetually changing landscape and the natural ebb and flow of evolution’s taste.
We weren’t ready for such an abrupt and dynamic change in the way we operate.
As a result, we get confused and we end up falling victims to what can be characterized as the most wicked disease of our times.
Anxiety manifests itself in different forms and disorders throughout a person’s life. From a generalized anxiety disorder, to social phobia and PTSD, the angst entailed in the human condition can make even the bravest of us crumble in despair.
Which begs the question. Can anxiety ever be cured completely?
That, I don’t know.
What I do know, is that our approach towards the mechanics of anxiety portends a tidal shift towards the way we deal with it.
Many would call that an ambitious endeavor, since our cerebral makeup has a threshold with regards to how much it can be molded and how fast it can adapt to novelty.
However, my anxiety attack constituted an inflection point in my pursuit for a remedy.
I realized that anxiety is nothing more than a reaction of our body to an event, environment or lifestyle that is antithetical to what our idiosyncratic perception demands.
This perception is an amalgam of various factors, both biological and environmental, and the proper evaluation of them can lead to an almost immediate decrease of anxiety in our lives.
In the next paragraphs, you will identify my attempt to lay out the most effective ways I dealt with anxiety and, hopefully, some of my suggestions may be of use.
How to Fight Anxiety
1. Exercising secular spirituality while making peace with religious aspects.
The notion of spirituality has, over the ages, usually been used in a strictly religious context, for it was religions that first endeavored to use spiritual practices as a way to connect with a higher form of self.
For me, religion is a tricky topic. I have always despised religious dogmas and the idea of religious people always alluded to a very conservative and regressive mindset.
As of late, however, due to the attempt by great thinkers, like Jordan Peterson, to identify depth in the way religions operate and to highlight the important truths hidden in religious stories, religions have become less alien to me.
I find myself enjoying the symbolisms entailed, for instance, in the biblical stories or in the way Mesopotamians represented their deities.
But my approach to these stories is strictly confined within the realm of symbolism.
I only view them as stories and I disengage myself from any attempt from those religions to impose meaning or obligations upon my worldview. Stories can be real or can be invented. What we make of them is up to what we want to make of them.
Once this truth has matured within our perception, then religion can really help us understand the power and allure of spirituality. For, in our current epoch, we experience a paradigm shift with regards to what spirituality is and how it can be exercised.
Trying to experience spirituality within a secular context still constitutes a conundrum since the rules of how this is supposed to work haven’t been properly defined.
Yoga, for instance, is strongly related to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, which makes every attempt from the West to modernize it, look unappealing and fake.
In that sense, the notion of spirituality needs to evolve.
The evolution of spirituality needs to be tantamount to the evolution of how we approach anxiety. The past, the present and the future of those terms need to coalesce in a multifarious ensemble that directs our bodies and minds towards what is good for our psyche.
Spirituality aims to lead the individual to a place where even a modicum of what the transcendence of human condition feels like can be experienced.
In this world, anxiety has no place.
2. You are full of energy. Energy that seeks to be released.
Anxiety is in many ways similar to depression. They are both byproducts of a lifestyle that is limited to a passive mode of operation and, in most cases, the individuals suffering from both disorders reject any attempt to live life to the fullest.
Freud pointed out, in “Civilization and its Discontents,” that civilization is the product of repressed sexual energy being redirected into productive activities.
There is energy, inside all of us. Mostly sexual energy, that seeks to be released.
If we decide to shy away from that truth, we will inevitably end up depressed and anxious.
Freud’s suggestion was sublimation. He strongly believed that the process of deflecting sexual instincts into acts of higher social valuation can orient the individual towards a higher mode of being.
The proposition here doesn’t deny the importance of sexual acts, but rather it attempts to connote that, according to the explanation of Sublimation in Wikipedia:
“erotic energy is allowed a limited amount of expression, owing to the constraints of human society and civilization itself. It therefore requires other outlets, especially if an individual is to remain psychologically balanced.”
The word balanced is key here, for balance is a notion quite central to our being.
Most of us fall victims to the twists and turns of life and end up lamenting and despairing due to the inadequacy we might feel.
A balanced lifestyle, predicated on activities that can ensure that the required amount of energy is being released on a daily basis, is key to inner peace.
There is so much suppressed tension and aggression in each person that seeks to be released. Here are some ways:
— Adrian Iliopoulos 🏴☠️ (@theQSLmind) October 6, 2018
If you have trouble identifying interesting practices that can make your day more meaningful and help you experience instances of powerful energy release, you should check out “30 Challenges – 30 Days – Zero Excuses.” With 30 challenges to choose from, every day, your daily schedule can never look more interesting.
3. Homeostasis = anxiety. A busy lifestyle is a remedy.
The reason anxiety exists as a mental state or response mechanism is multifarious.
From an evolutionary perspective, anxiety is considered the response you get in order to prepare for a fear triggering event .
The world is a very dangerous place and humans have evolved quite a few mechanisms that can help us cope with adversity.
Anxiety is one of them and it was usually trumped by immersing in activities that allowed humans to feel in control of their environment. Hunting, inventions, tribal living, and different manifestations of power have paved the path to the cementing of our species as the dominant force on the planet. Anxiety always worked as a trigger to orient us towards what is dangerous for us so that we can attenuate its effect on our lives.
Modern civilizations have made things easier, but most of our instincts remain the same. We are adventure-seeking creatures and we need to constantly come up with ways to satisfy our complicated constitution.
By drawing parallels between our primal past and our current state, we can forge a present that can be meaningful and fulfilling.
I have always promulgated the importance of a busy lifestyle as one of the catalysts for human flourishing, for it trains the mind to adapt easily to a myriad of scenarios that life throws at you.
The adherence to a mindset that dwells within the narrow confines of one’s comfort zone is a recipe for disaster. All the chaotic elements that will attempt to disorient one’s presence will eventually prevail and anxiety will just manifest itself as a natural consequence.
Busy doesn’t need to automatically be associated with work. Work is indeed a central mechanism in one’s life, but the way you structure your life can include countless more interesting practices. You just need to open your eyes, experiment a lot and listen to how your body reacts to different experiences.
4. You are a sovereign individual. You just don’t know your power.
The sovereign individual has many faces.
It is the well-calibrated individual that understands social patterns and acts dynamically, according to the circumstance.
It is the contrarian who rejects conventional wisdom and innovates constantly with regard to problem-solving.
It is the holistic thinker who manages to understand as many disciplines as possible and is characterized by an undaunted thirst for knowledge.
It is the recovered person who works hard on their issues and believes in change regardless of the calamities that they may encounter on the way.
All these are forms of identity one can adopt in the quest for achieving individual sovereignty. That is the state of mind where the individual understands their role in the cosmos and becomes unhinged from every toxic dependency that might occur throughout their lifetime.
The anxious person is unaware of this.
The anxious person will always seek saviors and remedies outside their scope of control.
They have probably been brainwashed, through upbringing and social conditioning, to believe that there is only an infinitesimal number of things they can achieve and this limitation has a strong effect on their psychology.
As such, the anxious person remains shackled in their condition and any attempt to escape becomes fruitless since the personal responsibility entailed in the process of liberation ends up lost in an endless sea of limiting beliefs.
This parochial attitude is something only the individual him or herself can confront through extreme self-awareness and extreme self-ownership.
Facile generalizations can’t be of use in this context. The battle needs to be specific and has to be approached with brutal honesty.
Excessive lamenting ought to be dispensed and replaced with the vivid realization that we are victims only if we choose to be.
5. Connecting the mental with the physical via CBD oil.
Over the past few months, I have been experimenting extensively with CBD oil.
For those unfamiliar with the topic, CBD oil is one of the 80 cannabinoids2 found in the marijuana plant. It is, alongside THC, the most well-known cannabinoid, but it has the exact opposite effect from it. THC produces a very distinct high, but CBD allows the brain to relax by preventing the hippocampus from producing more neurons, hence reducing the efficiency of the anxiety center in the brain .
When I first started taking CBD oil, I didn’t notice much, apart from a slight increase in my ability to focus.
As the days went by, and around day seven, I started experiencing an interesting change in the way my whole body operates.
While I usually feel a slight pressure in my chest or stomach during the day, due to stress, this feeling almost dissipated. I also found it way easier to stay present and not allow myself to feel overwhelmed by chaotic events that will most definitely occur during the day.
Since I always try to view things holistically, I couldn’t just rely on my experience to justify the effectiveness of CBD oil so I went online to do some research. What I discovered was that there are actual studies showcasing the efficacy of CBD oil when it comes to handling stress, fear, PTSD, pain and even epilepsy .
Although, I strongly believe that anxiety is more of a mental issue than it is a physical one, the combination of the above-suggested practices in tandem with some physical remedies like CBD oil can lead to an interesting shift in the way one deals with it.
My brand of choice when it comes to CBD oil is called Good Vibes. They are based in LA and use oil that was extracted from organically grown hemp plants at a farm in Colorado Springs. Their customer service is exceptional and their products extremely well researched. You can check out their CBD oil here.
I am not a psychologist nor a physician.
I am a thinking person that attempts to make sense of the complex construct we call life. Every view in this article intended to shed more light on the combustible topic of anxiety.
I hope that I achieved that even to a small degree.
My strong belief is that daunting conundrums can and will eventually be solved when we perpetually confront them with an open, boisterous and tenacious mindset.
That might seem trivial to some, but I assure you, it’s not a small thing to achieve.
Fighting anxiety can be challenging. That’s why I created the “30 Challenges-30 Days-Zero Excuses” project. I have collected the most interesting daily habits, inspired by renowned individuals, that aim to help you reinvent the way you approach life and focus on adopting practices that can help you embrace an anxiety-free mindset. You can check it out here.
Also, don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to get my articles in your inbox on a weekly basis. It is awe-inspiring, free, easy to unsubscribe and some great resources will wait for you once you confirm your subscription:
Featured image © Ben Bauchau, Heavy Burden
Below you can also find the video version of this essay:
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