Epilepsy Talk

10 Ways to Cope with Your Stress and Anxiety | May 18, 2012

You’re choking. You’re drowning. You’re going down for the count. How many times have we all been there?

I’m sure everyone has their own way of coping — or else we wouldn’t be here.

Nonetheless, here are some helpful tips to get you over that hump…

1. Take time to relax and calm down.

It feels impossible to think clearly when you’re flooded with fear and anxiety. A racing heart, muscle tension and difficulty thinking as your adrenalin surges. So, the first thing to do is take time out so you can physically calm down. Physical stress can make all the symptoms seem worse. And stress can increase cortisol, known as “the stress hormone” because cortisol is secreted in higher levels during the body’s “fight or flight” response to stress.

2. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

When you’re anxious about something, whether it’s work, a relationship or your health, it helps to think about the worst case scenario. Of course you’re overwhelmed and your thinking isn’t too rational, so that’s the time to turn to reality. Ask questions, do some research. Get some information. At the very least, it will divert you and you’ll be doing something pro-active, instead of freezing with panic. And you might find out that your fears aren’t realistic or it’s not as bad as it seems.

3. Face the fear — in a safe and controlled way.

Hiding your head in the sand isn’t going to make anything better. It will just perpetuate your feelings and fuel the fire. So look that fear straight in the face and go slowly towards your goal. Take baby steps…maybe one each day. Ask for help and support from your family and friends to guide you on this scary journey.

4. Welcome the worst.

I know it sounds counter intuitive, but each time you embrace your fears, it makes them easier to cope with the next time they strike. Sometimes when you imagine the worst, you realize the fear is scarier than the problem. The good news is that over time, they won’t be such a big deal. And you’ll have the necessary tools to deal with them.

5. Get real.

Fears tend to be much worse than reality. Often you’ll assume the worst without considering the possible outcome of the event. Think about it. Has this problem ever happened in the past? What did you do? What was the outcome? Does worrying actually help the situation? (No. But it sure makes you feel terrible.)

6. Don’t expect perfection.

Absolutely no one is perfect. And if you’re expecting perfection from yourself, you’re setting the stage for disappointment. Yes, you want to do the best job possible. (I have a friend who so wisely says: “Each to his own best ability.”) The main thing is you’re trying your best. And that’s what really matters. Yes, life is full of stresses. Bad days and setbacks will always happen. But it’s essential to remember — life is messy!

7. Visualize.

Just let go. Take a deep breath (Don’t forget to breathe out!) and imagine a place of safety and calm. For me, it’s riding horseback in Yellowstone Park. A moment of pure beauty and perfection. For you, it might be a walk on the beach, a happy memory from childhood, a fun occasion that still makes you smile. Relax. Let the positive feelings soothe you until you’re feeling better.

8. Improve communication skills.

Sharing fears takes away a lot of their scariness. Just saying them out loud and acknowledging them, dulls the panic. If you’ve got a family member, partner or friend you can talk with honestly and openly, speak to them. If the fear is too big to handle, consider finding a good therapist. It could make a world of difference. (I know it did for me.)

9. Take good care of yourself.

Of course others matter. But how can you be there for them if you don’t take care of yourself? That means getting a good night’s sleep, wholesome meals, and a good walk to clear your head and start the day. Put your best foot forward and then, if something is worrying you, take a break and do something you enjoy. Not only will it help you gain perspective, it will also help you relax, so that you can go on.

10. Reward yourself.

Finally, give yourself a treat. When the dreaded deed is done, celebrate. How about a massage, a movie, dinner out, a book you’ve been longing to read? Even a little “retail therapy”. Whatever little gift makes you happy. You deserve it!

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” — Nelson Mandela

With gratitude and thanks to Dr. Michelle Payne.


  1. Beautifully articulated,,,

    “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
    Nelson Mandela

    And coming from an EXPERT, someone who paid life-time torment, to become a PRESIDENT FROM PRISONER & forgive his tormentors to make them family-friends, it just FASCINATING to witness, some just live to lift up the lives, hopes, dreams, ideals, minds, souls & spirits of billions of people, all over the world.

    Here’s some one to look up to, that there’s is more to life, than just being consumed with obstacles & fear.



    Comment by Gerrie — May 18, 2012 @ 5:57 PM

  2. Such a great reminder. I do also have anxiety.


    Comment by jennifer — May 18, 2012 @ 6:16 PM

  3. I think bravery in the face of all odds and then forgiving your tormenters is the greatest, most generous deed you can accomplish.

    But fear and anxiety are very real also, and to overcome them takes a certain amount of courage.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 18, 2012 @ 7:08 PM

  4. Thank you for this valuable information, I hope it is okay that I bookmarked your website for further references


    Comment by gymnastics equipment for home — May 19, 2012 @ 5:59 AM

  5. Thanks gymnastics. Feel free to subscribe. That way, you’ll get an email every time a new article is posted…


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 19, 2012 @ 12:21 PM

  6. The Acronyn for F.E.A.R. is,
    . F= False, E= Evidence, A= Appearing, R=Real.


    Comment by Charlie — May 20, 2012 @ 5:56 AM

  7. You rock Charlie!

    (May I quote you?)


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 20, 2012 @ 12:58 PM

    • It’s not original. I heard it somewhere, and really liked it.


      Comment by Charlie — May 20, 2012 @ 3:48 PM

  8. Oh good. Now I don’t have to give you credit! 😉


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 20, 2012 @ 3:53 PM

  9. Great information on anxiety as I have suffered from this for a long time but it does get better and great words Charlie


    Comment by Jill Whiting — July 16, 2013 @ 10:42 AM

  10. i had a little sort of panic attack during my yearly exam at my ob gyn appt. but the doctor very patient with me and she talked to my the whole entire time.


    Comment by Crystal Cahill — March 6, 2014 @ 9:07 PM

  11. Steady girl…steady.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 7, 2014 @ 12:12 PM

  12. Hello I have had the epilepsy seszures when I was about 15 they started back in 75 an lasted till 95 was my last one I have had.I was on dilaten for awhile.I haven’t had anymore since 95.but there r times when my head does have little spells off an on an my brain an thinking part doesn’t do well at times.an there r times that i would like to talk to a doctor or someone that knows more about the seazures that us ppl do have in our lives.an I like to say thanks for accepting me to ur group.virginia


    Comment by virginia — February 17, 2015 @ 7:08 PM

  13. Welcome Virginia!

    Are you interested in joining a support group? There’s a lot of friendship and camaraderie among people you certainly can identify with.

    I know my support group is the best. I look forward to our once-a-month meetings!

    For a national list of Adult Epilepsy Support Groups, click on:


    P.S. Our support group is run by an Education Coordinator from the local Epilepsy Foundation and an Epileptologist.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 17, 2015 @ 7:35 PM

  14. What about fear only in the seizure itself? Mine come from the hippocampas and they are always fear with events I cant retain and I am full aware, the meds don’t control!!


    Comment by Karen Hall — February 18, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

  15. “Emotions: A sudden feeling of fear or a sense that something terrible is about to happen may be caused by a simple partial seizure in the part of the brain which controls those emotions.”


    Do you have auras? Triggers? Would relaxation exercises abate the onset of the seizures?

    See if this article can help any. “Relax!”



    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 18, 2015 @ 1:02 PM

  16. Is there anyone here who does NOT take Xanax? Besides, finally finding my perfect “cocktail” of meds, the human who invented Xanax would be a person to whom I would give most of my organs to! Having watched a few seasons of “Breaking Bad”, I’m up for cooking up a batch of Xanax! (just for my friends, of course. Michele


    Comment by meesher — January 19, 2016 @ 5:51 PM

  17. Count me in! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 19, 2016 @ 6:40 PM

  18. Thank you so much for your sttellar article. I feel
    anxious much of the time,and you really made my day, i have auras so I know. and breathing out helps sometimes. Also liquid valium in my mouth sometimes helps for a lesser seizures.


    Comment by Kathy — August 24, 2016 @ 6:42 PM

  19. Oh Kathy, I’m happy if I could be of any help.

    Breathing and walking (often at the same time) are my “mantra”.

    As long as you find yours…

    Be well…


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 25, 2016 @ 9:45 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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