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Let's Talk About Anxiety.

May 19, 2022

by Rachel Trego, Behavioral Health Program Manager at Flying Horse Farms

In March 2021, my brother, at the age of 33, was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. It was a diagnosis that completely rocked our world.

I vividly remember the day following that diagnosis...I found myself awake at 3:30 a.m. I couldn’t sleep and was consumed by my fears, my worries and the anxieties that came alongside this shocking news. It was a side of anxiety that I have personally never experienced before even though I have worked with so many patients with anxiety as a clinician.

As we continue the conversation about mental health, let’s talk about anxiety. The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as an “emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes.”

Anxiety presents and manifests differently for each and every one of us. It can present in psychological symptoms, physical symptoms and all of the above. For some, anxiety can be:

  • Feeling restless, “wound up,” or “on edge”

  • Easily fatigued

  • Having trouble concentrating

  • Being irritable

  • Having headaches

  • Biting nails

  • Sleep difficulties

  • Changes in our appetite

  • Tightness in chest

Often, when we are having symptoms of anxiety, we can lose touch with reality and the grounding that we have within ourselves. Because of that, it is so important to examine our anxiety and understand how it may manifest in us.

Anxiety is very real for campers. In fact, many campers at Flying Horse Farms have been diagnosed with a mental health diagnosis alongside their primary medical diagnosis. We know that they, along with their parents and siblings, can have worries, thoughts and anxiety that impact their experience at camp. We know that it can be scary for a parent to trust someone else to care for their child, perhaps for the first time ever. We recognize the worry that siblings have in their desire to protect their sibling with a serious illness.

Anxiety is real.

It is meant to be observed, recognized, and respected. At Flying Horse Farms, we create brave spaces for children and adults to be open about the fears, anxiety, and barriers they may face.

So what do we do with anxiety? How can we manage and respond to the anxiety, the worries or fears that we have? Let’s talk about natural coping strategies, which could include:

  • Exercise. When we move our bodies, our ability to cope with internal stress is greater. We reduce extra energy, improve hormone balance, release signals in our brain to enhance mood and improve our breathing

  • Yoga. Yoga is a type of exercise that focuses on stress reduction through breathing, movement, and meditation. It provides the opportunity to slow down in life and focus on the “here and now” which allows you to feel like everything is more manageable. Yoga also spends time focusing on your breathing to help self soothe and calm yourself down.

  • Memory Creation. Simply creating memories is helpful in managing stress and anxiety. This could be going to a local museum, the park, a sporting event or simply doing something fun as a family. The more we allow ourselves to enjoy things in everyday life, the more positive thoughts we generate when struggling with stress.

  • Distractions. Distractions are important, as our thoughts can be problematic when we live with worries or anxiety. Distractions allow us to stop focusing on those thoughts so we can take a moment to refocus and find calm.

  • Journaling. Journaling is a powerful coping skill. It allows us to release and write down all the thoughts that we hold in. Journaling also allows us to put worries down in a permanent place so that we do not have to focus on them as much.

In writing this, I am currently waiting for the results of my brother’s six-month follow-up scans. I recognize that, in this moment, there are many things that I can’t control, but I have control over myself and in the way that I let my anxiety, my fears and my worries present in my life. I am holding fast and grounding myself through mindfulness practice to keep myself out of my head and present in the moment.

Friends, I encourage you that if you find yourself worried or consumed with anxious thoughts, fears, or uncertainties... Reach out to a friend, a family member or a mental health professional. I also encourage you to find and explore what helps you calm down or cope with the anxiety.

Always, if you need anything or just need to talk, please feel free to reach out to me at .