Many Moroccans experience anxiety at some point in their lives, for different reasons. However, when the symptoms become frequent, are larger than their triggers, or happen for no reason at all, it could be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
Here I want to share with you some key tips that have really helped me.
Antidepressants have really helped me, but it’s not always the case for everyone.
It’s important to understand the nature of anxiety and be mindful of it. Anxiety irrationally increases the likelihood of an event occurring, catastrophizes the situation (it’s going to be so terrible, the worst! etc), and it induces self-doubt (I won’t be able to cope, my life will be ruined! etc.) That’s how anxiety works, it plays tricks on your mind.
Physiologically the fear circuits in the emotional center of your brain (the amygdala) is on overdrive and the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that reasons and performs executive functions) is suppressed, that’s why it’s hard to rationalize and then all of a sudden you’re breathing shallow/ short breaths and your chest tightens up because of your heart rate. That’s when I typically take deep breaths to calm my body down… It takes around 20 minutes for your heart rate/ body to calm down.
Challenge your thoughts.
I also challenge my anxious thoughts. You can always try journaling your anxiety and then challenging it. Seeing these irrational thoughts on paper really help show you how irrational the fears are.
Shift your focus.
Another key thing is to avoid ruminating about your fears (repetitively going over the fears). Challenge the fears and once you come to a conclusion debunking the fear, focus your attention on something else that is more productive. As your mind focuses on something lighter your body and mind will calm down. Just keep doing it and it will get easier over time, your brain will adapt.
I also want you to understand something super key: anxiety focuses on a future THAT DOES NOT EXIST. It literally does not exist. The only thing that exists is this very present moment. So when the anxious feelings and thought rise, I usually tell myself “nope I’m not going to waste my time on something that does not exist” then I refocus my attention on my breath, on my surroundings, and on the physical present.