Throughout the decades of pain, heartache, unimaginable and incomprehensible suffering I almost couldn’t endure from having debilitating, life-interrupting anxiety attacks. There are techniques that CAN and DO relieve anxiety. These are my absolute favorites:
I know, everyone says ‘just breathe’. But how ridiculous does that sound when you’re in the middle of a panic attack? I know. Believe me. But there is a method to the madness, I promise. One of my favorite and actually very effective methods is counting your breath. Inhale slowly through your nose, to the count of 5 – 7 seconds, hold for 5 – 7 seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth for 5 – 7 seconds. Do this at least a few times and you will feel the difference very quickly.
The Five Senses:
This has helped me many times as well. Focus on the five senses. What are you feeling, smelling, tasting, hearing, and touching at this very moment. Focus intently on each sense. This can help ground you back into the present moment, away from worry of fear or harm.
I will often do a mental checklist in the middle of the panic attack, and change it according to what is making me feel anxious at that moment. For example, for whatever reason, when my stomach gets upset from IBS symptoms (cramping etc) I panic. I worry. So I will remind myself of things like, I have been through this many times before, I am safe, there is a bathroom nearby, even if I do get sick it will pass, it always does, I’m not going to die. Even though every time this happens, I think it’s food poisoning, it never has been in the past ever. A mental checklist like this reminds yourself that you can and you will get through anxiety, and ground you in the present moment, which is actually safe.
Affirmations can calm you from the inside out. An effective way to do this is picture yourself as a small child, who is feeling as you are feeling at that moment, and what you would say to that little child. For example, (I say to myself) I am safe, I am calm, I am OK, I love me, God’s healing flows through me now restoring me and making me whole, I will get through this, this will pass, and one of my favorites: relax mind & body, let go and let God. (If you are able, go into a quiet room, close your eyes and repeat affirmations). Affirmations can penetrate your conscious mind, into your subconscious mind.
Essential Oils can help calm your nerves as well. My favorites are lemon, lavender and peppermint. I will put them individually or all of them on different parts of my hands, or neck.
Cardiovascular exercise does wonders for anxiety attacks. It helps release the build up of the cortisol chemical that is overly secreted during an anxiety attack. It can also take your mind off the anxiety, and it can tire you out. If you try this, I recommend giving it at least 15 minutes. It takes our minds a few minutes to reset.
Some of these methods above involve distracting yourself from the anxiety. Sometimes that’s really all that is needed. Anxiety is nothing more than fear of something in the future. (Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real). Even talking with a friend, listening to their story (about anything) can engage your mind, and help you from focusing on your anxiety. Remember, it ALWAYS passes, even though sometimes it feels like it never will! (I have had anxiety for days, weeks, what felt like months. But it did lessen and pass).
One last thing, that I think is very important. Remind yourself that you are doing better than you ‘FEEL’ you are doing. For instance, if you have a panic attack, and you get through it (even if it lasts a few hours or so); you survived! Pat yourself on the back! Tell yourself good job! You got through it! You didn’t run home, you didn’t die 🙂 We need to celebrate our victories, even the smallest. Especially when we focus all too much on what’s wrong with us. There’s nothing wrong with you or me. Maybe we are a little more sensitive to anxiety or life’s stressors, but that does NOT mean we are broken. And every day we get to wake up and take another breathe is a victory in itself. Celebrate you. ❤