Anyone who has ever had anxiety or suffer from it on a daily basis can attest that it sucks…exponentially.
There’s those times when you go from having a pretty normal day, then suddenly get sucked into this chaotic vacuum of loud thoughts, sweaty palms, palpitating heart, and dizziness (just to name a few), then start panicking because you think you’re experiencing a serious medical event. Then there are other times where you are just constantly nervous, whether it’s because there is an upcoming event or just uncertainties about outcomes in life. Sleeping becomes an issue, eating becomes minimal, feelings of being on edge happens, and you just feel like everything is going wrong (when in reality everything is just fine). How would I know? Because I suffer from this daily.
When anxiety strikes, I want you to have these steps in the back of your mind to help pull you out of an attack or at least ease your mind a bit (if you experience it constantly). These steps aren’t just limited to anxiety attacks, these can be used to quiet a nervous mind as well. Here’s what you can do:
1. Calm down with controlled breathing– The first and foremost step is to calm yourself down. When having an attack, there’s a chance that hyperventilation may occur, so it’s important to control your breathing. Even if hyperventilation isn’t present, it’s good to have controlled breathing down because it will help give a steady oxygen flow to the brain, thus clearing your mind and reestablishing focus.
Start by finding a place that is quiet and have a seat. Sit with your legs uncrossed, both feet flat on the ground, and hands by your sides (palms up almost as if in a meditation pose).
Next, start taking deep breaths. I use a 4, 2, 5 method which I breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 2, then exhale for 5, but find what works for you if that isn’t sufficient enough for the situation. Keep focusing on your breathing, feeling the sensation of the air filling your lungs, then releasing, and the rise and fall of your chest.
Continue controlled breathing until you can breathe steadily again or be able to think clearly.
2. Grounding – During an attack, it feels like there’s 9,000 things going on between the short breathing, sweaty palms, rapid heart beat, thoughts running rampant and so on that it’s no wonder we get this sense of having a ‘system overload’. Grounding can help regain yourself amidst a time of turmoil. Being that I’m a new age spiritual, the act of ‘grounding’ is a spiritual term in which you center yourself within your body, usually connecting with Mother Nature and the Earth. In this case, if you are not one for standing barefoot in the grass or sitting on a mountaintop during sunset, there are other ways to ‘re-center’ yourself (I’ll leave the cool spiritual meditative stuff for another post).
Start by using your senses to become aware of your surroundings: What can you see? Is there anything around you that you can touch? What smells can you make of? Can you taste anything? Using your senses can help you get back in touch with reality as well as distract you from the initial attack. Find at least 3 things (or whatever you are comfortable with) for each of your senses.
Another way to ‘ground’ yourself is to become aware of your feelings. What are you feeling right now? If you can identify your feelings, don’t over think them as being significant to anything other than anxiety (you don’t want to go back and make the attack worse). Remind yourself that you are NOT dying, NOT in danger, and that these feelings are NOT permanent. As the famous saying goes, ‘This too, Shall Pass’.
3. Releasing – it’s never a good idea to harbor old feelings and bottle them up inside, which is why releasing is a great way to get rid of the negative experience you had with the anxiety. Some people like to draw out their feelings, while others like to write. Exercise is also another outlet for releasing. Find what you like to do and use it as an outlet to let go of anxieties and move on.
Anxiety sucks. But know that you have the power to overcome it when it happens. Remember that you are not alone, that this happens to even the best of people, and that you can come back from it just as strong!