- Remember: If it doesn’t matter 5 years from now, don’t think about it for more than 5 minutes.
Disclaimer: My anxiety is not clinically diagnosed.
Your hearts racing, you find yourself having trouble breathing and everything starts to go black. The world feels like it’s moving at a 100 mph but you’re no longer a part of it. It doesn’t feel like reality anymore; you’re just trapped in your own thoughts, some of them more daunting than others. You’ve lost your ability to control your senses and all your strength is put into gasping for air. That’s what my anxiety attacks feel like.
Growing up, I felt as if I was just emotional — someone who overreacted and overanalyzed lots of situations for no good reason. The unknown made me nervous and I needed to plan lifetimes ahead just for the sake of going through scenarios in my head. Although these habits may seem like good qualities to possess, it consumed me as a young adult. Anxiety was something I hadn’t known much about in high school. It seemed too far-fetched, something that you only learned about in health class because you had to. How would someone like me have anxiety?
It wasn’t until college that I realized it could get much worse than just dramatizing scenarios in my head. The stress of college my freshman year was overwhelming and sometimes it began to feel like too much. Being away from my family and the back to back exams got to me.
My first semester of college is when I had my first anxiety attack. It felt as if the walls were caving in and I was screaming to get out but I had no voice. This lasted about 5 minutes and it eventually calmed down as I started to focus on my breathing. I wiped my tears, washed my face with cold water and sat on my bed reflecting on what had just happened.
Later when I was able to finally process it all, I realized I had an anxiety attack. I began to research more and more about anxiety and the different forms it could take. Although my anxiety attack was stress induced, I had been dealing with anxiety for much longer than college and was finally able to define it. Everything from my excessive worrying to my social anxiety that came from meeting new people all started to make sense.
Living With Anxiety
After almost five years of learning about my version of anxiety, I have become aware of things that would trigger it such as stress or even excessive amounts of alcohol. This has caused me to start building a healthier relationship with myself. These are the four lifestyle changes I’ve made to make it easier to live with anxiety:
- I’ve been regularly exercising and managing my diet for over a year now. By allowing myself to be in control of what my body goes through physically and what my body consumes, I have become the healthiest version of myself yet.
- I journal my thoughts. If I can’t wait to be home and write it in my actual journal, I write down my thoughts on the Notes app on my phone. It helps me process what I’m going through at that particular moment.
- I take 5 minutes out of my day to clear my mind and just breathe. Breathing is such a simple thing your body does for you without much attention. When you control your breathing, you gain a sense of peace and clarity.
- Praying. I’m not the most religious person but I try to grasp what I can from my parents and close friends about religion. Something as simple as driving at night still gives me a terrible amount of anxiety. Praying before I drive gives me comfort knowing that I am safe in God’s hands. Your body goes through a lot in one lifetime and taking care of it and what’s inside is so important.
The daily affirmation that changed my life: “If it doesn’t matter 5 years from now, don’t think about it for more than 5 minutes.”
Purvi Hirpara is 23 years old and currently works as an analyst for a pharmaceutical company. She is very passionate about educating others and creating a positive change for both women’s rights and black lives. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, cooking and watching movies.