By Laura Lifshitz
Dealing with anxiety can make life difficult. I sometimes feel as if my anxiety takes over the control center in my brain and puts me in the backseat.
I may not even realize it, but anxiety can fuel a response, reaction, or behavior. It's not until a few seconds, minutes, or hours later that I realize: anxiety got me. Again.
For example, I was worried about a potential health issue and the worrying took on such a life of its own that I actually started to make my stomach sick and head ache. Once I realized this was happening, I did my best to breathe deep and tell myself to relax.
Except, I had to continually do this to keep myself calm because sometimes, managing anxiety is a job.
By the time I got to the doctor's office, my blood pressure was somewhat high, which is abnormal for me as a person who deals with low blood pressure. But then again, that's what anxiety can do to you ... if you let it.
I started telling myself that this had to stop. Therapy, exercise, deep breathing, and a recent interest in mindfulness are all tools I'm incorporating to deal with my anxiety. I can't let anxiety be the captain of my life anymore.
Despite my new stance, I view my anxiety with a sense of humor at times that helps me face this beast with a great attitude. Besides, people with anxiety have a boatload of talents and we're especially good at teaching you the following life skills:
1. How to panic from a medical false alarm.
If you think you have a tumor, disease, or some other ailment, a person with anxiety can lead you to the best websites to feed your fear. For example, if you want to make yourself panic and join others who will panic with you or alleviate your fears, go to a highly invalid medical site full of forums, and go bonkers.
If you want to have reputable advice, learn medical terms to impress your doctor, and start to over-exagerrate your symptoms, go to the Mayo Clinic or CDC. That should work.
And by the way, that mole on your shoulder does look a little suspicious. Just saying.
2. How to confuse love with anxiety.
You're on a first date and you feel those butterflies. You think, "Oh, it could be love," but your friends with anxiety know better.
Most likely, it's a panic attack about to erupt over the fact that you've got a zit showing, just got your period and are wearing white, or didn't realize your blind date is 60, not 36, and now you're stuck with the psychopath.
When it comes to sweaty palms, nervous tummies, and little palpitations, we can tell you if it's legitimate love, or your body going into panic mode.
3. How to control your breathing.
Your yoga instructor is so serene, but even she doesn't know how to deep breathe when in the throes of a mental breakdown, like your friend with anxiety.
We've been practicing deep breaths and the art of the "ohm" since we popped out of our mom's womb. We haven't reached nirvana yet and probably won't because of that hideous mole-turned-cancerous-growth turned potential-alien-life-form-on-our-shoulders.
But we know how to breathe in and out like a woman in labor, or the former Ghandi, like an absolute pro. Namaste.
4. How to count sheep in other languages.
When you're anxious, you don't sleep very well. When you don't sleep very well, you count sheep. Except you've counted every friggin' possible sheep on the planet since you were seven.
And at this point, you can now count sheep in about five languages. Impressive.
5. How to tell the difference between panicking and obsessively worrying.
There's a huge difference between panicking and obsessively worrying over something. Panic is when your body goes into overdrive right away. Literally, your body's evolutionary response is to think it's getting attacked by a large scary creature, so your heart rate elevates and your palms sweat.
Obsessively worrying is when you cannot stop thinking about one very important urgent issue that consumes your mind, every single second of your twenty-four hour days, seven days a week.
We, sufferers of anxiety, can tell you which "healthy" habit to adapt when facing a potential crisis. For example, finding out your mother-in-law is visiting for two weeks AND staying with you? Panic mode.
Seeing your friend's husband out with some random female? Obsessively worrying. See what we can teach you?
6. How to prepare for sudden sweats.
Do you sometimes get incredibly sweaty or want to know how to handle exiting the gym before getting home to shower, without looking like a drip?
Do what anxious people do: carry deodorant in every possible bag you own, plus a change of clothes, plus tissues and blotting papers to get any extra sweat. You never know when a loud noise might trigger a panic attack.
7. How to distinguish a loud noise from signs that you're getting older.
If you hear a loud booming sound, it's most likely the sound of mass destruction. Run!
If you hear a sharp pitched sound, it's most likely the sound of mass destruction. Run!
Any other loud signs that bother you indicate you're becoming an old fart, you crotchety crochet, you.
8. How to cure any form of discomfort.
Do you have agita, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, or something else? No one knows how to battle the tummy blues like your anxious friends. We've got (on hand) tums, stool softeners, fiber pills, Milk of Magnesia, and the two "Z's" -- Zofran and Zantac.
We know how to treat and heal your tummy troubles, as well as the best place to find information on that exotic stomach bug you MUST have, according to our calculations. Wink.
In all seriousness, though, we're your stomach's best friend and will nurse you back to health. Just don't make us worry about you, OK?
9. How to dodge a date you're nervous about (without looking like a complete jerk).
Did you decide there's no way in hell you can go out with that guy from Tinder? Let's help you Google some exotic disease you've "suddenly" come down with, or perhaps pose as your aunt via phone. Suddenly, Auntie Lee is going into labor and needs your help.
We have the best excuses crafted to a science that we've used to avoid dates and everyone else on the planet. In the end, the date you snubbed will feel so bad, he might just donate to your "disease's" organization or send your aunt a baby gift.
10. How to take paranoia to a whole new level.
Did you see your friends whisper together without you? You're sure they were talking about you, but you're not positive.
Here's some advice: everyone is talking about you, right this very moment. It's true. We don't even need to hear the conversation.
11. How to properly organize a closet.
Did you just move, or are you sick of your filthy closet? We are.
Ask us for help in getting your closet in ship-shape. We'll have your clothes hung in color, sleeve length order, and style. Your shoes will be organized by season, color, and heel height.
Actually, this job gives us great joy. Do you mind if we live here? Forever?
12. How to imagine the worst-case scenario.
Are you considering a major life change or are nervous about something? Did you get into a fight with your husband or boss? Is a new employee being hired in your department?
Come to us so we can help you imagine the worst-case scenario before you get too hopeful or stay too positive. Besides, we're positive your husband wasn't just shaking hands with your neighbor. He must also be setting up a coup to leave you.
Well, we hope not. But come on ... it was all so obvious.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.