Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Driving Anxiety

I can remember when I lived for road trips, traveling brought me a sense of peace and adventure. Unfortunately, I had my first bout of driving anxiety several years back and driving has not been the same for me since.

After my first bout of driving anxiety, I stopped travelling for fear of having a panic attack while traveling. I let that one episode of driving anxiety stop me from doing something that brought me so much pleasure for years.

I recently decided that I was going to start traveling again in spite of my anxiety. I started out kind of slow by traveling to the edge of town and then over the course of several months drove further and further. I know this would sound ridiculous for anyone who has never experienced anxiety or panic attacks! :-)

I have some friends that live around 300 miles away and hadn't seen them in several years; that would be my first task driving to see my friends. I decided it was worth being anxious in order to see my friends.

The day of the trip I was extremely anxious. However, I told myself I could handle this, jumped in the car and headed out. I also gave myself permission to turn around at any given moment during the trip if my anxiety became overwhelming. I experienced several panic attacks including one really bad on half way to my destination, but I really wanted to see my friends and I kept going.

Yes I was uncomfortable the entire trip, but I made it! This was a huge victory for me and I realized that I really could live my life and do anything in spite of my anxiety. Take your time, be compassionate with yourself, and realize that you are going to be anxious, but you can handle it. And if you can't, turn around and try again tomorrow!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Anxiety, Depression, and Serotonin

Anxiety, Depression, and Serotonin

If you have suffered from anxiety or depression, chances are you have done some research on the subject and have heard of Serotonin. If not, then listen up.

Though I have a clinical background I am not technical (at least not in terms), so I will define serotonin and its properties as simple as possible. Serotonin is a hormone that our brain produces to help us feel good. Serotonin is partly responsible for regulating mood, curbing anxiety and depression, and relieving stress to name a few of its attributes.  Serotonin can also be found in many foods we eat. Here is a list of foods that have high and moderate amounts of serotonin:

High Serotonin Levels                                               Moderate Level of Serotonin

Tomatoes                                                                     Avocado

Pineapple                                                                     Cauliflower

Plantains                                                                      Broccoli

Banana                                                                       Cantaloupe

Kiwi                                                                            Eggplant

Plums                                                                          Dates



                                                                                    Honeydew Melon


In many cases, anxiety and depression can be completely eliminated through a simple diet change (implementing the foods above), a regular exercise routine, and proper breathing exercises. The reason why these little changes are so effective goes back to serotonin.

When we take care of our bodies by consuming good fuel and exercise regularly we feel better. This is because our production of serotonin is optimized. If we eat bad and are sedentary, our bodies tend to not function as well thus do not produce optimum levels of serotonin thus the consequence is generally moodiness, anxiety, depression and so forth. If you’re looking for a quick fix to anxiety, get your serotonin production up!

Monday, October 29, 2012

What is Social Phobia?

What is social phobia? Social phobia is another term for social anxiety or social anxiety disorder. This could be defined as anyone who has a debilitating fear in certain social settings. The setting is generally called a trigger. Triggers are things that bring on the sensation of anxiety which is associated with the event/trigger.

Some triggers may include a crowd of people, a crowd of people in which it is difficult to find a way out (parade, night club, the mall, etc.), public speaking, driving in traffic, and many other events. The trigger could have developed suddenly or gradually over time. For example, if you went to the mall and did something embarrassing, you may associate that experience with the mall rather than an isolated incident. For anxiety sufferers, this one incident is enough to cause nervousness upon returning to the mall.

For those who don't suffer from social phobia, it can be difficult to relate. Often times, the loved ones or friends of someone who suffers from anxiety think the person is being silly, they harass them or make fun of them. This only further perpetuates the feelings of anxiety. Think about it, no one wants to feel bad or feel like they are living in fear. They are not trying to embarrass you or ruin the party. They have social anxiety and they need and deserve your support.

I hope this sheds a little light on what exactly social phobia is. Feel free to ask questions or if you would like me to expand or need additional information on anxiety related issues, just let me know!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Situational Anxiety

Many anxiety sufferers have certain triggers or events that can bring about the uncomfortable feelings associated with anxiety. I refer to this as situational anxiety. For example, those who have social anxiety may feel fine when they are at home or with family, yet when they get in a social setting or in an area with a lot of people, anxiety comes creeping in.

One of the events that triggers my anxiety is driving. I'm fine driving around my town, but when I get out on the open road, I begin to allow negative thoughts to take over. I start thinking what if I have an anxiety attack so far from home? What if my car breaks  down and I have an anxiety attack? What if I lose control in front of my friends?

Once you start down the road of what if thinking, it can be difficult to get back on track. Last week I went for a drive several hundred miles from home. My anxiety went up and down and I even suffered one panic attack. However, I kept driving to my destination.

What I took away from this experience was to prepare for situations that I know may trigger my anxiety. I took my anxiety medication on the trip as a security blanket. Though, even after having a panic attack I did not take them.

I also brought along two good friends of mine that are understanding and good conversationalists. This was extremely helpful.

If you are going in to a situation that triggers your anxiety, plan ahead. Don't let anxiety rule your life. I went on that trip in spite of my anxiety. Yes I was uncomfortable, but it was better than staying home and feeling bad that I gave in. The more you plan ahead and practice situations that are difficult, the less intense the anxiety will be and the better you will feel about yourself. Of course, if the anxiety gets too bad, be compassionate with yourself and have a back-up plan. Mine was to turn around if it got to bad and go back home. My friends were aware and cool with that and I wouldn't have felt bad about it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Overcome Shyness

Just because you may be shy does not necessarily mean you have a social anxiety disorder. Though, shyness can lead to social phobia. Here are a few tips for overcoming shyness:

Try to think of why it is you are shy. Are you worried how people will react to you, are you afraid of being judged or just don't feel comfortable around people? There is nothing wrong with being shy, but if you want to overcome shyness, then you are going to have to face some fears.

Facing your fears can be quite scary, but it all depends on the attitude you have. If you are tired of living in fear and truly want to overcome shyness, then you need to put yourself out there. Start out slow.

Invite a friend out to lunch or even to go watch a movie. Join a book club or other low key social group. If you are really shy you can start out joining an online forum about something you are interested in. Try to find like minded people and get into discussions about something you both have in common.

If you are going to overcome shyness, you need to take a leap of faith. If these ideas are terribly frightening to you, that's ok. Take your time; it's possible you could benefit from a self-help program or even a few sessions of therapy. Remember, there is nothing wrong with being shy. However, if you want to overcome shyness, then you are going to have to work at it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Social Anxiety Affirmations

I've known about the power of positive affirmations for some time. Though, I only recently thought about applying affirmations for social anxiety. I started searching the web to find some really good social anxiety affirmations and I came across this forum post:

Every day in every way I'm getting better and better.
My life is blossoming in total perfection.
I am the master of my life.
Everything I need is already within me.
Perfect wisdom is in my heart.
I love and appreciate myself just as i am.
I accept all my feelings as part of me,.
I love to love and be loved.
The more I love myself, the more love I have to give others.
I now give and receive love freely.
I'm now attracting loving, satisfying, relationships into my life.
I feel happy just being alive.
I am healthy and beautiful.
I love my life.
I like myself.
I love others.

These social anxiety affirmations were posted on social anxiety support just wanted to share. These were the best ones I've come across so far.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Social Anxiety Forum

For many who suffer from social anxiety, getting help can be difficult due to hang-ups about 'shrinks', or financial reasons or even embarrassment. Sometimes the best social anxiety support can come from just talking with others who experience social anxiety and can relate.

A Social anxiety forum is a great place to get support. A Social anxiety forum gives you the ability to ask questions, vent and all the while remaining anonymous.

Here a re a list of sites for social anxiety support as well as a social anxiety forum:
Social Anxiety Support
Heal Social Anxiety
Anxiety Tribe
Daily Strength

Im sure there are many social anxiety forums out there as well as many site for social anxiety support, though these are the ones I am familiar with and highly reccomend.

And if you are ready to go beyond your social anxiety don't forget to check out Panic Away, great for all anxiety related disorders.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Social Anxiety: Fear of Public Speaking

Social Anxiety is a common form of anxiety disorder. Many people experience the symptoms of social anxiety while in large crowds or public places. Others may experience the symptoms of social anxiety or social phobia when speaking in public.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Social Anxiety Support

Social anxiety support groups can be a great way to not only overcome social anxiety, but meet new people, thus interacting in social situations. If you have ever gone to a social anxiety support group, you may have been nervous at first and experienced high levels of anxiety. Though, if you keep going the anxiety subsides and you can feel comfortable while gaining the social anxiety support you need.

I am pointing this out because if you think about it, it would make sense to experience anxiety in a social anxiety support group as this is a social situation- but you don't. Why is that? You are interacting with a group of other people, why aren't you anxious?

Social Anxiety: What are we Afraid of?

When we suffer from social anxiety, we often think we know what we are afraid of. We think we are afraid of being embarrassed by doing something or saying something stupid. We may be afraid that others might be judging us or disapproving of us-the way we look, the clothes we wear. The truth is that we are not afraid of any of these things. We are afraid of our feelings. We are afraid of fear!