Panic attacks, hyperventilating, crying to the point of choking - yeah, we all used to be besties. But sometimes the company you keep pulls you down rather than lifting you up, and I really needed to find a new group of friends.
Implementing calming techniques is definitely a good place to start, but the real secret that I'll mention in a minute is what helps make those techniques really stick.
When I find myself feeling overwhelmed by everything around me (honestly, it's like my brain opens up and all of a sudden I see and hear everything), or getting anxious about steps 2, 3, 4, 5, AND 6. Even feeling the stress of kids, work, finances, etc.
It took getting to know myself really well, in order to find what triggers me, how I initially react in situations, what the motions I go through are, and eventually what works to calm me down.
Here's my little routine:
Deep breaths (I swear by them - but they don't always work by themselves). So I start with that and focus on what being calm feels like. What does that look like? How does it make my muscles feel? What do I do when I project calmness in my words and actions? If I can I'll step outside to do this and breathe in fresh air, feel sunshine on my skin, listen to crickets chirp, or lay on the ground and look at the stars and moon. Once I've reeled the anxiety back then I'll do stretches - reach up to the sky, touch my toes, and loosen my body. That helps give me that little espresso shot of energy to feel a little more centered and grounded.
This routine helps control that spiral and set myself gently down rather than crashing and hitting the floor. But what really helps keep me grounded is that secret I was talking about earlier:
It's all about shifting your perspective away from the big picture, letting go, and redirecting that anxiety into trust in yourself, the universe, god, or whatever fits your needs. Once you release that, then it's a matter of going back to whatever caused that spiral to kick off in the first place and say okay, steps 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 I'm going to shelf for right now. What is the first step I need to work on to get myself on a smoother course here.
Here's a list of 10 questions to ask yourself during, or at the start of a panic attack.
- Am I actively trying to slow my breathing?
- What emotion would I like to experience right now and what does that feel like?
- Am I saying positive affirmations?
- What is causing me to feel this way, and am I replaying it or letting it go?
- What are things I'm grateful for?
- Am I falling victim to this or am I also trying to be the caring supportive friend to myself?
- Could I take a deep breath and focus on smaller steps?
- What am I hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, tasting?
- Can I take a quick walk away from my current environment?
- Am I willing to take control in this situation?
Helping yourself really boils down to slowing down and making conscious choices to change the trajectory that you've been on. It takes baby steps, reflection, time, understanding, gratitude, and patience. But it's possible to overcome things like anxiety naturally.