You never know when you will be picked up on a journey to the anxiety galaxy. About 18% of adults starting at age eighteen have some form of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This is not including the individuals who have other mental disorders where stress is a component or where GAD is a co-disorder. These individuals are always on edge and the slightest thing can set them off (think of them as a firecracker, a beautiful, colorful explosion that is not as mesmerizing as a 4th of July firecracker). You never know when a crowd will get too big, when a glass drops, a wrong word or even nice word, or just what will exactly be their match and set them off. This is what is called an anxiety attack or panic attack. These are extremely stressful and for those who do not have these need to know how to properly handle them. It is important to handle them in a safe manner because these attacks can be made worse. And that is not good….maybe we will discuss that in a later entry…
The following is a brief guide to navigating the Anxiety Galaxy. What to say, how to act, what to do and what not to do. All of this is very important, so remember it. Keep this with you because you never know when you will need this guide. So grab your towel and let us go on a journey through the Anxiety Galaxy.
*Do NOT Say it is Ok
One would believe that this word, “ok” would be calming. IT IS NOT. “Ok” is a foreign concept to those with anxiety. They do not understand “ok”. Since they do not understand “ok” saying “ok” makes it worse. Those who have an attack are upset, and then getting them to calm down with a word they don’t get makes them even more upset. The end result=the concept of herding cats…useless and not happening.
*Ask Them if They Have a Medication or When Was the Last Time They Took Their Medication
Now this is a helpful question/statement. Just like you do when someone is having an allergic reaction, or asthma attack, giving them medication can help the situation tremendously. Sometimes the individual has forgotten to take their medication, which is what caused the attack. The individual may have medicine to help calm them down. So administer it and let the medicine work. Ask if they have any other medications (maybe an inhaler if they have asthma) and administer that as well. Do all you can this way to help calm down. Maybe ask if they use essential oils like peppermint, bergamot, lavender, or citrus.
*Ask Them What Caused This
This is the first question that should be asked. By asking them what caused it you can act appropriately by either removing them from the situation, using appropriate language, or know how to handle the situation. This question also shows said person that you are trying to understand them which builds trust. When said person is trusting it is easier for them to calm down. Also, it can make the person say out loud what is bothering them. Which most of the time it is an accumulation of instances and little nuances that is made bigger by one incident. Think of it as “tip of the iceberg”.
*Remind Them to Breathe
This is a reminder that said person won’t like but desperately needs. Breathing helps calm down the nervous system, grounds them, and keeps blood going to the brain. All things said person DESPERATELY needs. Now, don’t be harping on this, but soft gentle reminders will do. Just ask if they are breathing. If they say they are, then let it go. If they aren’t, then say take slow, deep, breaths, and let it go. Occasionally ask them every so often if they are breathing. Also, if you know they have asthma or other respiratory disorders this is a major must.
*Remove Said Person from the Situation
As stated earlier, if the situation is causing the attack remove at once. For example, if you are in the middle of a large crowd, get out. If someone is upsetting said person remove them. Get the person to a quiet area where no one or very few people are around.
*Do NOT Give Advice or Try to Understand
This is a BIG deal. Don’t probe or prod too much to get what is wrong or for them to fully open up. That will make things worse. Also, don’t give advice. Chances are you have no clue what is going on. So if you haven’t experienced an attack don’t say “you get it” or “I understand” or anything else. If you haven’t just do some of the earlier stuff and go on. If you have some understanding then feel free to say “I understand” or “I get these too, it will pass. I am here for you if you need me.” Then if they want to open up they will. But please, please, please, I beg, don’t say you relate if you have never experienced this. I cannot say that enough. The said person will take offense and feel as if you are trivializing their experience.
*Ask Them if They Have A Special Person That will Help Calm Them
If they won’t open up to you, which is fine, ask them if they have someone who can help them. Maybe it is a best friend, a significant other, parent, or even husband/wife. If they are there then get them. If they aren’t telephone them and have them talk to the anxious person.
*Not All of Them Have a “Happy” Place
Now, here is one where there may be some differences. I personally do not have a happy place, and cannot stand this phrase. There is no place I can go that makes me happy (unless my hubby and Winston are there). So please do not tell me to go to a happy place. It sorta is like an earlier point, like the word ok, if person does not have a happy place that will upset them more because you don’t understand them/they don’t understand you. I totally get that some people will have a happy place. So they may respond to that. But for the most part, just let it go.
*Give Them Water and Lots of Space
Keep them hydrated and let them be. Anxiety takes a huge toll on the body and water will help the body stay cool since body temp will rise. See previous example and points for why space matters.
*Be Gentle in Spirit
Just like when you give an adjustment in yoga, you come and go gently. That means be soft with words and touch, and don’t fight them if they want you to leave. Also, don’t take offense if they refuse help or touch, let it go. Walk gently away. Be gentle in tone of voice. Use a very soft, quiet, calming voice. Like what you would hear on a guided meditation.
*Give Them a Towel
Because you never know when you need a towel. If they don’t have a towel then let them borrow yours. I like my towels super soft with prints on them…
If the anxious person is not having any of this, then just say 42 and walk away. 42 is the answer to everything.
for more info on GAD click here