Editor’s Note: Michele Quintero is a Carson High School Counselor
In the age of Covid, many are dealing with anxiety and panic. What is the difference? According to the Mayo Clinic, a panic attack occurs when a person feels intense fear that triggers the “fight or flight” response. Many people are experiencing panic attacks, and they feel they are losing control of their bodies and/or their mental and emotional stability; attacks can be so intense as to feel like food poisoning, a heart attack, or even dying. An anxiety attack may come on slowly and often occurs in anticipation of an event.
The severity, length, or number of occurrences may vary, often depending on how the sufferer responds to each attack. Those who have experienced panic and anxiety know there are strategies which may be used to alleviate the symptoms and lessen the severity, length, and frequency of attacks. Unfortunately, what may work on several occasions can suddenly stop working.
This is why it is so important for everyone, not only students, to fill their ‘Anxiety Toolbox’ with numerous strategies. The more tools, the better equipped to combat attacks when they occur. Maintenance tips used to lessen the frequency and length of attacks: Limit caffeine. It affects sleep patterns and the jittery feelings associated with caffeine can trigger a panic attack. Ditto with energy drinks. Exercise every day. A brisk walk outdoors encourages stress-relieving deep breaths and, if it is sunny outside, much needed Vitamin D is obtained which promotes better mental and physical health; however, accept the fact not everything can be controlled. What others may do is often unpredictable, but the response can be controlled.
For example, perception is everything. Imagine walking down the hall, and someone gives a dirty look. Rather than assume personal hatred, recognize he may have been thinking about something he is dealing with. Learn personal triggers, and avoid them. Some people do not like people sitting or standing behind them. When possible, sit with back to the wall or in the last row. Keep to a schedule too because the brain loves routine, and doing this gives most people a feeling of control. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, and shower and get dressed even on days working from home. Block in times for exercise and mental breaks in order to avoid burnout on home days. Do not expect personal perfection either; it is then easier not to expect it from others.