Strategies for Tackling Anxiety and Fear

*The information provided in this blog is not medical advice and is not intended to, and does not, replace the advice provided by your health care professional. Always seek advice from your licensed healthcare professional in regards to your healthcare needs.

Many people who have serious health issues, or who are caring for a loved one who does, can face increasing fear and anxiety about what seems like so many unknown variables and outcomes. For someone living with a challenging healthcare condition like epidermolysis bullosa, that fear and anxiety can stifle opportunities to better manage pain or to pursue personal goals. And for caregivers, fear and anxiety can be downright crippling and get in the way of fully giving to your mission of supporting the patient with EB – physically, mentally and emotionally.

We’ve gathered some pointers to help tackle the fear and anxiety that may follow a diagnosis of a disease like EB. As already noted, this by no means represents medical advice. You should always see a licensed healthcare professional for such guidance. These tips merely offer strategies that some people have used and found helpful during their challenges.

  • Make the mind-body connection, the link between mental health and physical health. The American Psychological Association provides an interactive diagram showing how men's and women’s stress levels can impact them physically. As someone living with EB or caring for another with EB, has the stress you’re feeling  taken a toll on you physically and mentally? Has your current set of circumstances impacted your former daily exercise routines? Eating habits? Sleeping schedule? Chances are, it has. How have those changes impacted your mental health, and are you feeling greater anxiety than in the past? Take that all-important first step to make the connection and begin looking at these various areas. Work toward addressing any changes that could be negatively impacting your present mental health state.
  • Inner Health Studio suggests the use of calming self-talk practices for alleviating anxiety. For some, simply recognizing those stressful occasions and repeating certain phrases can make a difference in their physical and mental state. Try phrases such as “I will get through this,” “this feeling will pass” or “I am anxious now, but soon I will be calm.”
  • Radio host Dr. Ben Kim shares thoughts on the practice of visualization and its ability to help people overcome emotional obstacles but suggests starting slowly, doing just a little bit daily. The practice of visualization involves creating positive memories over time based on goals you visualize and, through repetition, replacing current feelings of fear or anxiety with more positive feelings.
  • Anxiety Coach Dave Carbonell provides some helpful breathing exercises, including a step-by-step guide to proper belly breathing and a video demonstration by Carbonell. While he provides these exercises for people diagnosed with panic disorder or social phobia, they can also be useful for those who are carrying a lot of responsibilities and weight on their shoulders, such as EB family members or caregivers. Stopping for just a few moments to catch our breath when we may feel anxious or overwhelmed can be beneficial to both the caring supporter as well as the patient receiving the care.
  • Writer Susan Weed of encourages people to consider researching herbs that ease anxiety. She cites research suggesting that natural herbs such as nettle, oatstraw and motherwort have led to positive outcomes for some. However, as always, you should seek the guidance of your physician or a licensed registered nutritionist for information about natural dietary ways to cope with added anxiety or fear that may be impacting your life.

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