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Cyberbullying and Anxiety

1
Reflective_Joy
I wanted to address cyberbullying and anxiety. I know that we have a very helpful thread and article on here,that talks about Cyberbullying and Depression. I thought it may be helpful to also talk about anxiety.

Anxiety can elicit a strong physiological response to a perceived or real threat. It can be debilitating and can put our mind and body through the action of flight or fight.

Cyberbullying can exacerbate anxiety or bring it on. It can make us fear the one thing we found joy in. Be it our Facebook or twitter accounts, our emails and even our phone.

Anxiety can manifest differently in each person, and sometimes it's good to know the variations of how it can creep up on you. Moreover, what to do when it does.
For me, my chest can become very tight and painful. I also feel a tingling sensation all through my body and may feel extreme cold or extremely hot.

For some, Anxiety can cause the heart to race or bring on severe nausea. It can be most unpleasant!

When we are online and facing ongoing bullying we may experience Anxiety. Even after the bullying has ended, we may still feel anxious about going online again.

Have you experienced anxious thoughts and sensations as result of bullying?

We can't always switch off online or want too, so what are some of things you've done to cope? What could you share here, that can help fellow cybersmilers to deal with anxiety?
1
Mac
Great post! I think it is really important to understand the mechanics of the flight or fight reflex and how we should always be aware of being hijacked by our emotional responses to perceived threats. Emotions are there for a good reason, and we all have to use reason to understand these strong emotional responses for what they are. Being aware of them and acting upon them are two different things. We should be thinking "who's in control,me or my emotions?" and then act reasonably. This goes for someone who is on the receiving end of abuse and also for someone who abusing others online.
0
Jules92
I used to get anxiety attacks and can understand how getting abuse online could bring on these feelings. I did a lot of work to help myself cope with these emotional triggers that can make you feel physically ill, and understanding how you mind can get carried away with perceived threats is a big part of learning to cope. I really think this sort of thing should be part of our education. Whats the point of qualifications if you can't function as a confident and capable human being??
1
jenniferannesm2
Great idea Canadian_SW to add anxiety to the discussion. It often goes hand-in-hand with depression, but is a huge problem all by itself. When you get anxious, there's a physiological response as Canadian_SW said, your body releases a huge amount of chemicals to get ready for fight or flight: adrenaline (that's what makes you nauseous) and cortisol (which increases your metabolism and energy so you're ready for that fight). MAC is so right. Our brains and bodies get hijacked by these chemicals, even like Jules 72 said, even when it's just a perceived threat (good point).

I was diagnosed with "agitated depression" which is depression compounded by anxiety. The bullying added such an element of anxiety, that it fed my depression, so I got stuck in a spiral. As I worked with my doctors and counsellors to treat my depression and anxiety, I did look for a lot of ways to stop or calm the anxiety before it escalated into a panic attack.

I ended up writing out a list and posting it on the fridge so it would be available even when I couldn't think clearly. I always found comfort being with my cat, even just sitting next to her. I also had a designated safe place in my house- don't laugh- it was the bathtub. I don't know why, but it just felt safe in there. Cup of tea and a hot bath, of course. A safe, silly movie like A Hard Day's Night. But mostly a lot of positive self-talk and slow breathing.
1
Reflective_Joy
MAC-Thank you! I agree. I think self awareness and understanding our emotions is key. It can definitely help us better cope with what we are feeling and as you pointed out, how we treat others. Self awareness is useless if it doesn't include self love and in turn empathy for others (for those engaging I the act of bullying).

Jules92- I couldn't agree more! I definitely think Emotional intelligence should be taught in school. It doesn't mean we may never go through something that could bring on anxiety or depression, but we may be better informed of what it is when we do and how to reach out for help when needed.

Jennifer- Sounds like you went through a very difficult and challenging time. Judging from your posts, you definitely came out of it with strength, self awareness and healthy coping strategies. Which I think many on here are benefiting from.I know I am!

I think the bath is a great safe space to have! It make sense when you think about it. It's relaxing, and something we do alone. I love lighting candles and adding a bit of classical music as well!

I definitely love the silly movie idea. I find comedy is something that can really help me. Laughter releases endorphins and these chemicals help relieve pain and relax muscles ( which may be tight and painful as a result of anxiety).

I also love the idea of positive self talk. I think that is probably the most challenging but the most important. Especially when someone is going through bullying or after it has ended. We may struggle with our self worth after being constantly belittled. I think that's a great one to add. Which is why the positive Shrine is so awesome! If we can't think of something positive to say to ourselves, we can read them out loud. Eventually, over time we may start to manifest those positive affirmations and that can lead to healing and reduction in any anxiety we may be struggling with.

great ideas guys!
2
jenniferannesm2
So many great ideas! Thank you Canadian_SW for summarizing everyone's ideas so well (and for not laughing that I hide in the bathtub:) Looking back, it was a pretty terrible time, but I am really lucky I found good people who taught me great life skills that I still use every day.

Another coping skills I thought of that might be helpful thought-stopping. Sometimes it's too hard to just think of positive thing on their own. But you can try to deal with the negative thoughts first. Don't try to fix them, just focus on stopping them, like pressing stop on a tape recorder. It can be as simple as envisioning the word "stop" or saying it to yourself. It can interrupt the cycle of negative thoughts swirling in your head long enough to switch gears to something more positive, like one of the self-caring ideas mentioned here. Then when you're in a better place and have support with you, you can go back and examine the thoughts as part of your healing. Just another idea to add to your toolbox.

CanadianS_W, I just want to add that I love your posts. You have great ideas and such a positive vibe. I think you add a lot of positivity to the forum. Thanks. :)
0
Reflective_Joy
Thank you Jennifer! That's so lovely of you to say! Likewise. :-)

I really love your idea of envisioning the word "STOP". Someone once told me to go as far as picturing an actual stop sign! I had forgotten that amazing trick until you mentioned it. I think it's helpful when we have negative ruminations to just picture a giant red STOP sign. It gives us a sense of empowerment knowing that our thoughts don't have that much power over us.

I would even go so far as to say, that aside from a great self care technique, it could be used when dealing with cyberbullying. We may sometimes want to reply when someone is saying hurtful things to us. The impulse to defend ourselves can be intense. I think whenever we have the urge to engage, that before we do, we picture the word STOP. It can allow us to reflect on whether it's a good idea or not to respond. I think too, this could also help reduce anxiety over a situation where we feel threatened or intimidated. We have the power in silence.

Awesome idea!
2
kirsty123

In reply to *Reflective_Joy*

Well I just listen to my Christian music and my Japanese music and it helps,,me calm down