I was going through a stressful period. Lots of things were going on, all at once. I had a high-demand start-up job, money was tight, and we had a newborn.
Stress built up, but I kept pushing forward. At first, things seemed to be okay. I slept a little less, drank a little more coffee. I was getting by.
Then things started to change. I started getting nervous more often and started worrying about things. Minor setbacks at work felt like huge issues and I was losing patience at home. I was losing control.
My First Panic Attack
One event sent me over the top. We had monthly team meetings with to go over important updates related to the business. I had to give a quick update on the recent progress we made from the last check-in. Even though I had great information to share, for some reason, I panicked.
“I stuttered and stumbled. I stopped and tried again, but nothing coherent was coming out.”
As my turn to speak approached, anxiety kicked in. My heart rate increased, my throat tightened, and my mouth became dry.
A little nervous energy is normal, and it can even help in certain cases. This was worse than a little nervous energy. Way worse.
My hands started to shake, and my thoughts scattered. I was having trouble breathing. I wanted to jet out of the room to make this feeling go away. When it was my turn to talk, I completely choked.
I stuttered and stumbled. I stopped and tried again, but nothing coherent was coming out. All focus was on me and I couldn’t snap out of it.
I managed to say a few words and get the focus off me. The meeting carried on and nobody mentioned anything. But I felt horrible. I was disappointed in myself.
How was I ever supposed to get a promotion, a raise, or even get respect if I couldn’t hold it together in a meeting?
After the terrible performance, I began to over think and worry about every major meeting. Some days were better than others, but I still was incredibly nervous every time I had to speak. It drove me nuts! No matter how much I prepared or hyped myself prior to the meeting, I would turn into a quivering wussy as soon as the meeting started. The fear of the previous meeting was stuck in my head. I was terrified that I the same thing would happen.
It was time for a change.
What I Did to Overcome My Anxiety
Overcoming this fear was not easy. The fight against anxiety is an ongoing battle. However, it’s getting easier and easier every day.
After reaching the breaking point I began testing new habits and changes to my lifestyle. I tried the following:
- Cold Showers
- Ashwagandha supplements
- Magnesium supplements
- Getting enough sleep
- Herbal teas
- Tapping exercises
- Joining online communities
- Eliminating caffeine
- Eliminating alcohol
- Increasing exercise
- Breathing exercises
- Reading self-help books
- Improve diet
I noticed that if I ate healthier, ate less sugar, exercised a few times a week, and kept my coffee consumption under control, I was less stressed overall.
I was improving but still wasn’t getting the results I wanted. That’s when I started experimenting with adaptogens, such as ashwagandha and started taking magnesium supplements. These have been super helpful for me. They weren’t a miracle cure by any means. They helped take the edge off during the day and helped me sleep better at night.
Even then, I was getting closer to normal, but I still wasn’t quite there.
The last step I took that really changed things was reading the book “Badass Ways to End Anxiety & Stop Panic Attacks!” The book provides mental exercises to break the circuit. Instead of focusing on ways to stop panic attacks from occurring, it teaches you to accept and allow anxiety to happen.
I keep focusing on things to diminish anxiety. It never occurred to me to face the anxiety head-on.
I read the book in a few days. It was a game-changer. I’m still practicing the techniques from the book and using the additional techniques mentioned above.
Now in the meetings, I get nervous, but it’s bearable. I can keep coherent thoughts and articulate them in front of the group. After my failure, I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to bounce back in the way I did.
My Advice to Anyone Struggling with Anxiety
Find what works best for you. Keep a record of any changes to your lifestyle and keep note of surrounding factors that make things better or worse.
I’m not a medical professional, nor do I play one on the internet. This information is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Be smart and listen to your body.
Marc Peterson is driven by curiosity and never-ending improvement. He’s the creator of Mindful Searching, a content site dedicated providing accurate information to improve the body and mind.
Image courtesy of Matheus Lira.