Most people will experience feelings of anxiety at some point in their lives. For example, It’s completely natural to feel anxious when you have an upcoming exam, a job interview or you are awaiting important results. Someone who suffers from anxiety related problems might experience those feelings more frequently and with greater intensity. Someone with an anxiety disorder may become worried or anxious about situations or circumstances that other people might not worry about as much or in the same way. Heightened anxiety levels can lead to panic attacks, which can feel very frightening for the person experiencing them. Some of the symptoms of panic attacks include overbearing panic or fear, heart palpitations, shakiness and shortness of breath.
The internet is a very powerful tool – for good and for bad. Because the internet is so diverse and largely unregulated, people are free to post and view what they want (within reason). This freedom is one of the things that make the internet such a powerful educational and social tool, but it is also one of the things that can make it so problematic for young and vulnerable users – unprepared for such powerful or inappropriate content. Some content online can ‘trigger’ anxiety in users who have existing anxiety related issues or are in a fragile state of mind.
If someone with existing anxiety problems is cyberbullied, harassed or trolled online, they may not feel comfortable speaking out or seeking the help and support that could help them overcome the situation they are in. Even bystander intervention on their behalf has been known to increase their anxiety levels with a concern that they are responsible for an escalating issue involving a growing number of people.
There is no definitive fix for anxiety or panic attacks because we are all different! Panic attacks also have a way of manifesting differently each time they come – making it difficult to feel comfortable in a diagnosis, adding to the anxiety. Use the following ‘Grounding Technique’ for help with anxiety or panic attacks.
1. Go to a quiet part of your home.
2. Rate how anxious you feel on a scale of 1-10.
3. Find your comfiest chair, sit up tall with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed.
4. Place your feet flat onto the ground. (this works best if you’re barefooted).
5. Take slow, deep breaths until you form a rhythm.
6. Think about your surroundings, count how many windows and doors you can see.
7. What color is your top? What does it feel like?
8. What noises can you hear?
9. Name every shape you can think of.
10. Now, rate your anxiety between 1-10. If you are above a 5, repeat the exercise.
It is important to remember that anxiety disorders are a genuine medical condition that can sometimes require professional treatment. If you continue to suffer with uncomfortable anxiety levels or panic attacks longterm – we recommend you speak to your doctor or medical professional.