Alex's Answer

Sometimes I get these feelings of really bad anxiety in my chest and it makes me feel like I'm having a heart attack

Your Question

Sometimes I get these feelings of really bad anxiety in my chest and it makes me feel like I’m having a heart attack. I shake a little but other than that it’s all on the inside. I don’t know if this is classified as a panic attack, but what can you do to calm yourself down? 

Answer

Hi there, you are very welcome to Ask Alex.  

Thank you for contacting us. We understand that it’s not always easy to share our worries and concerns, but we also know how important it is to talk about how we are feeling. 

We are very sorry to hear that you have been experiencing feelings of anxiety to the point where you feel like you are having a heart attack. This must be very scary for you and a lot to deal with on your own. We are glad that you have reached out to look for support, it’s so important to know you are not alone in this struggle. 

Anxiety is a sign something needs our attention. It can actually be a positive thing as it can be protective, letting us know there may be danger or that something is risky. Feeling anxious about something like an exam or a driving test can be a motivator to study and practice. But sometimes, feelings of anxiety can become overwhelming and interfere with our daily lives. 

Anxiety is something we all feel. It is an experience that we have, and not a part of who we are. New or challenging situations, like meeting new people and speaking in public can cause us to feel anxious. Thankfully there are lots of effective ways in which we can manage anxiety and its effects. Here are some techniques which you may find useful: 

Try writing out a situation that you feel triggers your anxious feelings (e.g., doing a presentation in class, talking to someone new, playing a role in the school play), now write the best and worst possible outcome of this scenario. You could also ask yourself if the worst possible outcome did come true, would it still concern you in a week, month, and year? Often when we look at it the worst possible outcome, not only is it not very likely to occur but even if it does happen, it may be way less catastrophic than we imagined it would be.   

Sometimes, acknowledging our worries and taking the time to say them out loud can help us feel more in control. Ignoring them or pretending they don’t exist can sometimes worsen our anxiety. Avoiding situations that make us anxious is also unhelpful in the long-term as this can make our fears worse. 

You could do some breathing exercises and mindfulness activities when you feel a bout of anxiety coming on. Light exercise in general can be helpful too as can listening to your favourite song or chatting with a friend. 

It can be very helpful to keep a log of your daily activities and keeping track of your anxiety levels – notice when you are most and least affected by your anxiety. This can give you a clearer picture with regards to the pattern of your anxiety and may help with sourcing triggers and intervening before it becomes too much.  

You may have a trusted adult you could talk to about the anxiety you are experiencing like a parent, aunt/uncle, grandparent, friend, teacher, or neighbour. Speaking to a trusted adult can help you to tackle the issue head on and if need be, they can assist you in accessing services available to young people who experience anxiety. A visit to your local GP may also be beneficial. Sharing our problems and worries can be very helpful and can have a positive effect on the outcome; it’s a starting point towards you building up the confidence and ability to take back control. Anxiety is something that may not stop completely but with the right measures in place, you will be better equipped to manage it.    

You do not have to go through this alone. There are various organisations which can offer help and support to you. One such organisation, Jigsaw, can be found here:  www.jigsaw.ie . Here is an article on their website which you may find beneficial as it details some exercises which can help you manage anxiety: https://jigsaw.ie/managing-anxiety/#helpfulexcerisestomanageanxiety 

The Childline website www.childline.ie has lots of information on anxiety as well: https://www.childline.ie/what-is-anxiety/and tips on how we can manage anxious thoughts: https://www.childline.ie/anxiety-creeping-upon-you-5-tips-on-how-to-reframe-anxious-thoughts/. You could also speak with your parent/carer, teacher or school counsellor about participating in the Space From Anxiety programme, a free digital intervention offered by Childline which helps young people learn the skills and techniques needed to help them manage their anxiety. 

Here are some links to videos which may also be of help: Managing Anxiety – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=12&v=daVWREDS9M0&feature=emb_title;  You Are Not Your Thoughts – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QXmmP4psbA     

If you are finding it hard to talk to those in your life whom you are close to, you are very welcome to chat with the Childline Team by phone on 1800 66 66 66 or by text on 50101 or through our web chat on www.childline.ie. Childline services are free and confidential, and available 24 hours, 7 days a week.   

Thank you for reaching out to us. 

Take Care, 

Alex 

 

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