Long-Term and Fast-Acting Solutions for Your AFib Anxiety
Feeling anxious is never fun, but it can be particularly troublesome when you also live with atrial fibrillation. After all, the heart palpitations of AFib are a major source of anxiety, and at the same time, anxiety surrounding your heart condition can make AFib symptoms worse. Anxiety feeds AFib, and vice versa.
So, how do you interrupt this uncomfortable cycle? The first step is to recognize the situations that tend to make you anxious, and then figure out how to avoid them (or handle them in healthier ways). Fortunately, you don’t have to live in a constant state of worry and fear — there are daily exercises to help you keep calm and collected, and clever rescue treatments for those times when your AFib anxiety takes over.
Learning to Relax for Long-Term Comfort
AFib may be a physical phenomenon, but there’s a whole lot of psychological distress involved. In fact, studies have shown that psychological strain can significantly worsen AFib symptoms, yet the emotional dimension of the disorder is often ignored.
Indeed, it may seem like the better you can ignore your AFib, the more comfortable you’ll be, but that’s not the solution. In reality, most people need to get in deeper touch with their AFib before they can get over the distracting symptoms and worries.
Facing Your Fears
Allowing yourself to feel and process your AFib worries can be very empowering, and reading about other AFib patient’s fears can be surprisingly comforting. When you face your own fears, you’ll see they aren’t as big or imposing as you thought; sharing stories with other people inspires hope instead of fear.
Consider starting an anxiety journal to record when and how your anxious thoughts arise. When you return to your notes in a more reasonable mindset, the fears will seem much less oppressive. Carry that reassurance with you to fight future fearful episodes with reason, self-confidence, and the knowledge that every fear is simply a feeling that will pass.
Mind Over Matter
Turning your fear into a mantra can help you regain control, too. If you can’t overcome a nagging thought, try putting it into words and then repeat the phrase to yourself over and over. Eventually, it will just be a set of words, the rhythm will be pleasantly distracting, and your mind will wander to happier places.
There are two other proven ways to help your mind overcome your anxious thoughts and physical reactions:
- Mindfulness meditation. Focusing on your physical sensations without commenting or reacting to them can be tough at first, but once you get the hang of what’s known as “mindfulness” mediation, it can be an incredibly helpful tool. The idea is to turn your attention inward and quietly observe your AFib symptoms; eventually they will run their course, and in the meantime, you’ll keep your body relaxed and your symptoms from escalating. Speak to your doctor, therapist, or meditation guide to get started on the right track.
- Yoga. Excellent for reducing stress, relieving muscle tension, and improving mood, yoga has helped many patients improve their quality of life. Luckily, there are dozens of types and variations to explore, from vinyasa flow to more static yin yoga, so you should have no trouble finding a class that suits your exercise personality and physical capabilities.