The Question I Ask When I’m Feeling Anxious

I had an anxiety attack while getting ready for my internship. To be honest, I don’t know what triggered it, it just happened.

I was doing well for several days. This episode served me as a reminder and a learning experience, too.

I realized how quickly I can fall into a negative thinking trap. From the initial “why is it happening right now?” to the “I don’t know if I’m gonna make it this time.” When the anxiety is within me, all the negativity takes over, light a magnet, and it magnifies. Fortunately, I was able to note that it was getting progressively worse. I started to pay attention to my breathing, and my thought process.

I was asking myself the same question over and over: what am I focusing on?

I realized that I was focusing on my fear. The idea of not being able to do things as usual because I was anxious, and also terrified that people would notice that I’m having symptoms. I was focused on the future based on how I was feeling at the moment. It seemed almost normal. Yet, I realized that was not the approach.

I can’t predict the future. I can only change my actions today, with the hope that they’ll impact my tomorrow.

I started to focus on mindfulness breathing. I’ve been practicing it with the aid of an app. I’ve reached the level where I can do it without it, too. That afternoon, however, I needed a little more than breathing. I needed to face my fear. I realized that I couldn’t do it alone.

I texted someone whom I trust. I told her that I was having an anxiety attack and that I was submerged in negative thoughts. We were chatting for a couple of minutes. There was something about seeing my fears in text that gave me relief. Almost as if I was journaling. The concentration needed to write a reply helped me focus on the present moment. It gave me enough relief and courage to go to my internship.

I was full of adrenaline, but once I arrived, everything was calm. The fear that I was having vanished. I needed to confront it. I needed to live it. I know that I have an avoidance tendency, and taking the lead on matters such as this makes me see that I can manage it.

This anxiety episode happened without any triggers. I need to acknowledge that this will happen again. Perhaps is something unconscious going on. Something that I wasn’t aware could have affected me. All I know, however, is that being mindful and asking myself what I was focusing on can give me an advantage and a plan of action.

Notice your breathing pattern. Try to see if you are focusing on the past, or the future. Is it a fear? Is it a difficulty? Is it lack of confidence? Noting where is your focus could give you perspective on why your feeling like that.

Talking or writing about it helps. It is okay to say you are not feeling well. There’s no need to say or add anything else. You don’t own explanations to anyone. You can, however, state that you are not are your best at this moment and that’s more than enough.

If you can remove yourself from the scene for a moment, it could help getting back to your center. I was at my room getting ready for my internship, but I was feeling trapped. I felt totally different once I changed the environment. If you are feeling trapped, perhaps going for a walk around the block could help.

In short, check-in with your focus, notice your breathing, and if possible, change your environment.


Below is a song that I wrote that echoes how I feel when I’m feeling anxious. I hope it makes you feel something special.

If you like what you’re listening, please share it with a friend on-line. Bonus points if you do it in person!

Thank you for listening,

Ernesto

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