Tips for dealing with anxiety and panic attacks
I’m thinking we probably have some newcomers to the world of overwhelming anxiety. Panic is a no-win kind of game, but there a few cheat codes. Since I’m an old pro and a real darling, I’m going to clue you in.
Full disclosure, none of these are a cure. Anxiety is a fucker and you should seek professional advice if you are worried about your mental health. However, none of these calming hacks will do you any harm, and so you can totally give them a bash. They might buy you a little temporary peace or even just knock the steam off your panic attack.
I know that sounds wanky but bear with me. Sometimes when I’m dealing with that grinding, slow burn type of anxiety this can be helpful. I go through things I’m grateful for in my head. It can be anything. Often, I’ll do the simple I have a warm house, comfy bed, not being pursued by the mob type of thanksgiving. Other times I’ll get specific about factors that mitigate whatever I’m worrying about. Either way it switches my head away from catastrophising for a minute and lets me catch a breath.
If you’re wholesale panicking, slowly taking small sips from a bottle can help. It forces you to regulate your breathing, which can ease the physical symptoms of a panic attack. Thus, giving you an opportunity to stave off a bad episode.
Waves of Sound
Get yourself a sound machine app. Lying awake all night feeling scared is awful. Waves, thunderstorms, pouring rain are all rather soothing. This can also be helpful via earphones if you’re feeling freaked out in a public space.
Play it Out
On a similar note, I like to prepare playlists of songs that I know will be good for certain situations. For instance, I have calming bedtime tunes, waiting somewhere stressful songs, help me do these things that need to be done lists and so on.
I know yoga isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it does work for me. Child’s pose is very helpful for chilling my body out and making my brain stop for a minute. You can access loads of good yoga vids on YouTube. It’s worth a try to see if anything helps you feel more ok.
This probably sounds a little dumb, but it can be surprisingly effective. In moments of panic/fear simply repeating a reassuring phrase can help. I usually go for ‘you’re ok.’ The repetition and saying the words out loud has an impact.
This probably sounds even more daft. Again, it can work. Taking yourself to a small, safe space can reduce your body’s desire to flip out. I’ve taken myself into my tiny home office and given myself a minute many a time. Being somewhere that I know no one can see me or even know I am there is great for combatting rising panic.
Dark and Loud
When the world is way too much, blocking it out us the way to go. Find yourself a dark room, get comfortable and turn some beloved music up loud. Assaulting the senses like this aids a positive disconnect from whatever is distressing you.
This one obviously works for me. Getting the terror out of your head and onto the paper/screen is a lifesaver. Something about making those words concrete rather ever-growing worries is hugely cathartic. Give it a try.