This may just read as crap to you and if it does, I apologise in advance, but what really helped me was developing an understanding of what anxiety actually is.
I’m just copy/pasting something I posted in another forum months back:
The effects of one’s mentality (regardless of the presence or absence of conscious awareness of it) cannot be understated when it come to anxiety. I interpret anxiety as a form of dysfunctional cognitive reasoning that perpetuates a stress response. Stress doesn’t CAUSE anxiety per se - and this is something that is hard to explain to someone who has been focusing all their efforts and hope towards a physical treatment approach. My view is that environmental stress increases predisposition to anxiety (and for many, many reasons).
There are physical manifestations of stress that many interpret as anxiety (including many MDs), which aren’t actually inherently, by definition, anxiety. At least not in my view. The list of physical symptoms used to diagnose anxiety are irrefutably the result of HPA axis activation (especially sympathetic overtone) and also widely accepted as being functions of the adrenals.
The problem with these physical sensations is that they naturally present in many diseases and root health problems that really are deserving of concern, so one has the tendency to allow the ensuing fear of their own well being to escalate into neurotic thinking patterns, which we simplify as ‘anxiety’.
Once one accepts and understands that anxiety itself is essentially a form of irrational fear fueled by neurotic/dysfunctional interpretations of situations, events or symptoms, or projections/predictions of potential outcomes one can refocus one’s efforts towards psychological strategies to improve one’s perceptions and reactions to triggers.
Therapy won’t really achieve much if one does not understand nor make this distinction between body and mind.
In other words it’s in your head. Now that might read as crap, like I said, but I think the simplicity of “it’s in your head” is merely an indexing of a much more complex concept. An anecdotal example might help: when I was taking stimulant medication for ADHD, I would often feel this sensation of a heavy heart (like a “nearly” stitch), increased pulse, etc. There was only really ever a very mild increase there when empirically measured, but my own fear of what could potentially happen if the bondaries of logic and reason were stripped away would facilitate a hypochondriac catastrophisation that mostly took place on a subconscious level.
If you practice techniques like CBT, you might be able to become aware of the self-talk that is always occurring and interrupt it at any point where logic is being abandoned and unreasonable evaluations are creeping in.
Anxiety is basically you worrying about the worst possible case scenario of every minor sensation you become aware of. The anxiety specific to losing one’s mind is a more complicated issue, but it CAN be resolved in a similar manner.
When I feel the physical manifestations of “anxiety”, instead of worrying that I might have a heart attack, I think “Expletive yes! If this is adrenal overload, then that means I have energy; let’s go achieve stuff!”. Get in your head and make up your own reset button mantras and go in prepared next time and you’ll be completely fine because you ARE fine!