Anxiety is but a normal part of life, something that many deal with in their everyday life. That general sense of fear, dread and uneasiness can creep up on you causing a bit of panic, often brought on by the stress or concern over a certain situation. But have you ever delved into what your anxiety means and how you can be better able to control it?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a great time to take stock of how your dealing with your own mental health, what role you can play in developing your mental health conditioning and what practices you can pursue to maintain a good mental health outlook. With this in mind, we've connected with Eva Under Fire's Eva Marie, who when not fronting her up-and-coming rock band has been licensed as an outpatient psychotherapist, primarily working in the areas of anxiety, depression, grief and substance abuse recovery.

Given her expertise in these areas, Eva has graciously agreed to pen this Loudwire column throughout Mental Health Awareness month, putting a spotlight on specific mental health issues and providing some tips on how you can help cope with each. We start this series with a closer look at anxiety, with Eva sharing one of her own personal experiences with anxiety and what she's learned in how to deal with it. Take it away, Eva!

It was our first big tour. As the opening band, we had just loaded all our gear on stage. Our gear was new but we practiced with it and felt prepared. We got a full sound check. The previous popping sounds we were getting from the PA the day before were fixed by changing out a bad cable. Or so we thought...

Fast forward to actual showtime. The fans have arrived and everyone is waiting for us to take the stage. But our gear won’t turn on. I mean, LITERALLY the whole stage box blew and we had nothing. No wireless signal, no click track, no in ear monitors... that means guitars, drums, and vocals were all affected. Worst of all, we were delaying the start of the entire show trying to scramble and figure it out.

That was my first professional moment of panic. I had worked my entire life for this opportunity and now, none of the gear was working. There wasn’t a thing I could do about it. It could have gotten us removed from the show. Worst case, we could have gotten fired from the tour! Do you want to know what happened instead?

The headlining band Skillet's production manager looked me in the eyes and said, “Breathe. This is what tour life looks like sometimes. It’s happened to all of us. We’ll get it figured out”. Then Adelitas Way, the support band playing after us, said, “Here, use our gear. That way you guys will still get to play!” (Have I mentioned that I absolutely LOVE my rock community?)

The world isn’t fair. There’s a lot of pressure to fix things that we can’t even control, but I promise if you surround yourself with people who have your back, there’s less to worry about. Messing up doesn’t mean the world is going to fall apart. Fear is lying to you. Here’s the truth about anxiety.

Having Peace Is Not a Circumstance, It’s a Mindset

This can be hard to learn as you move through life finding yourself in new environments with new experiences that are unfamiliar to you. Fear of the unknown. This is where we have to trust in what we do know: Ourselves. Positive affirmations can help! Examples: I am smart. I’ll figure it out. I got this far, so I can keep going...

*deep breath* Ready? Last one... ASKING FOR HELP IS OKAY. There. I said it.

10 Second Rule

Speaking of deep breathing, there are breathing exercises that not only calm your nerves, but can actually reset brain chemistry. Inhale for 10 seconds, hold for one beat, then exhale for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times. There is another technique called “4-7-8 Breathing”. I’ve included the link for you.

Coping with Anxiety Attacks

Sometimes, anxiety is not situational and there isn’t a clear trigger to point to. Ever feel like anxiety hits you out of nowhere? Your brain is misfiring. Somewhere along the way, your brain saw, heard or felt something and registered it as threatening. It’s a reaction, not something you consciously think about. Don’t worry: This fear response can also be unlearned.

Though it can be frustrating not understanding why you’re feeling what you’re feeling (Heart racing, sweaty palms, blurred vision, brain fog), mindfulness can help you talk to your body in the present moment and get it to calm down. Waiting it out, honoring what you’re feeling, talking with someone about it, speaking out loud or into a mirror to assure yourself of your safety may help.

If triggers are too numerous or too intense to think through, you might ask your physician about anxiety medication. Not all meds are habit forming and sometimes even low dose medication can help your body’s fear response to be less intense. Less intense anxiety/fear response means more access to your critical thinking skills and reasoning ability so we can stop coping and start healing. I highly recommend anyone who takes medication for anxiety or depression also be active in psychotherapy. The meds are helping your body maintain a healthier physiological baseline, but they’re not helping you learn about or process emotions for long term healing.

Cultivating a strong sense of self and healthy, supportive relationships is important for security. It begins by assuming good things about yourself and the world around you. Once you can look forward to good times, and be confident that you can get through the bad times, liberation from fear is possible.

Much Love,

Other Resources

"F*ck Coping, Start Healing" Book

"4-7-8 Breathing"

Recommended Cathartic Playlist:

From Ashes to New, "Panic"

Wage War, "Manic"

Bring Me The Horizon featuring YUNGBLUD, "Obey"

Ice Nine Kills, "Rainy Day"

Eva Under Fire featuring Spencer Charnas, "Blow"

Evanescence, "Going Under"

Paramore, "Emergency"

Nine Inch Nails, "Hurt"

Seether, "Words as Weapons"

Story of the Year, "Anthem of Our Dying Day"

A Perfect Circle, "Weak and Powerless"

Our thanks to Eva Under Fire's Eva Marie for this first in her series of Loudwire columns for Mental Health Awareness Month. The band's song "Unstoppable" from the upcoming 'Love, Drugs & Misery' album is available now and you can pick it up and find the group's touring information via their website.

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