Last week, my family and I went to a short vacation in this remote province south of Manila. We don’t go on vacations that much, but when we do, it’s usually short and not far away from the city because 1) my parents, despite their old age, are still workaholics and cannot bear to be away from their source of income for long, and 2) my brother and I get cabin fever quickly – we feel restless and claustrophobic when we’re secluded in one place for too long. But we decided to take a short trip despite our eccentricities, because why not? Life’s too short. The family kind of needed a breather anyway. I planned most of the trip because the parents and brothers are busy and I, if you’ve read my previous posts, am still unemployed and have too much time in my hands.
I chose this huge rest house in the middle of Tanay, a picturesque cabin designed with modern and rustic touches. The place is beautiful and extremely relaxing. (More about the place here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/15765998?location=Tanay%20Rizal%2C%20Tanay%2C%20Philippines.) It is also close to this stream where, because we ARE in a province, people would usually take short baths and wash their clothes. The place was sort of magical in a way cities could not be, with it’s quiet interspersed with the rustling of leaves, the chirping of crickets, and the soothing burble of the stream.
But of course, these things do not make what happens during the afternoon of our trip make sense. I had a mild anxiety attack. I couldn’t breathe and I kept thinking of every single wrong thing with the trip, like how far the place is and what happens if any of us were in an accident or in grave danger? What if we crave something from the city and I can’t provide it for my family? It was a horrible thing in the middle of such a wonderful experience. Thankfully, my mother was quick to usher me in my room to talk sense to me and say that yes, they are enjoying the trip and yes, they will be careful so nothing bad happens.
And you know what? Nothing bad did happen. The parents were fine, my brothers and sister-in-law did not crave anything. We were able to go home safely. I was just riddled with anxiety and it dampened my enjoyment of the trip.
Anxiety is something people cannot help but have. In some cases, it’s mild and annoying, but in certain cases it can be debilitating and life-altering. It can ruin your best days and further affect your worse ones. But what can be done when anxiety is affecting your thoughts, your judgment? Here are some tips that have helped me over time and might help you as well:
1. Take deep breaths
Taking deep breaths will help center your mind and body to the present. It will aid in restoring your body to a relaxed state, countering its fight-or-flight response activated by anxiety. Trying to count your deep breaths will also help, and this will take your focus off of your worries.
2. Have someone there to help
My mom was there with me when I had an anxiety attack, and I’m so lucky to have had her in that moment. But I’m not the only lucky one. People with anxiety mostly tell their support system of what they’re feeling so that when push comes to shove, the support system will help the person come down from their anxiety attacks. Helping them take deep breaths, giving hugs and sharing comforting words are some of the ways support systems can help people experiencing these debilitating moments.
3. Distract yourself by looking at your surroundings
One thing I do when I have mild anxiety attacks is I notice other things in my periphery. If I’m in public, I’ll look at the wonderful scenery and appreciate the life around me. I try to focus on the details so I can distract myself from my anxious thoughts. This doesn’t always help, as some experiencing anxiety may become overwhelmed with their surroundings, but it may work for some too.
This is one thing I did not expect to work at first. I’m not particularly religious, and in a country that deifies Christianity, I’m a bit of an outcast. But oddly enough, for me, praying works. I ask for guidance and help to ease the anxiety, and for some reason it is lessened. It doesn’t go away, but it helps me focus enough to work hard to eliminate the anxiety. Praying works for me, and it may work for you too.
These are some things that have helped me remove my anxiety. What about you guys? How do you manage or get rid of your anxiety attacks? Do they work, and to what extent?