I have been struggling with anxiety my entire teen/adult life. Anyone that suffers from anxiety knows that with anxiety comes panic attacks, and then panic attacks about having a panic attack.
Heart pounding. Unable to catch your breath. Sweating. Racing thoughts. Feeling like you are actually going to die.
In times like these we lose all sense of logic. No, we cannot “just calm down” so stop saying that. You’re making it worse. I am not claiming to know the “solution” or “cure” to anxiety because I think everyone’s solution is varied. However, I have found that there are a few techniques that actually do help me through these times and allow me to have control over my body, emotions, etc. All anxiety/panic attacks are different, and everyone has a different way of dealing with theirs.
I want to share my techniques with you, in the hopes that if you or your loved one suffers from panic attacks, one of these may help:
- Change your breathing. Breathe in patterns.
- In your nose out your mouth
- In your mouth out your nose
- Puff up your cheeks and blow really hard
- Breathe as deep as you can through your stomach and push it out like you’re blowing into a straw
- Touch 3 things and say what you’re touching out loud. Physically grab them.
- Smell something
- Smell that pillow you just picked up. What does it smell like? Do you need to wash it? Can you smell your shampoo? Did cat hair just get in your mouth?
- Listen for something
- Can you hear the cars outside? Or your air conditioner/heat? Is there any water running?
- Lay down on the ground with your feet and palms grounded. Feel the hardwood, tile, carpet. What does it feel like?
- Tense up and relax your muscles.
- Start with your toes – curl them up like you are going to pick up a pen, then let them go
- Point your toes as hard as you can, then flex your feet up to a 90 degree angle.
- Squeeze your calves by pointing your toes again and then relax.
- Flex your feet hard so your quads are engaged and relax.
- Squeeze your butt cheeks together and relax
- Take a deep breath and flex your stomach so you can feel your muscles tighten
- Roll your shoulders back like you are trying to squeeze a quarter between them
- Roll your shoulders forward and create a hunch back
- Flex your forearms by making a fist and pointing your fingers at your wrist, and then flex the other way
- Squeeze your biceps, then relax and squeeze your triceps.
- Roll your neck all the way down so your chin is at your chest, then roll it back and look toward the sky.
- If the above suggestions don’t seem to be working, have someone lay on top of you or put something heavy on your chest.
- Pressure has been proven to help many individuals suffering from mental health disorders. Deep touch pressure therapy (firm hugs, squeezing, etc.) has been proven to have a calming effect on the body. The pressure naturally calms your autonomic nervous system, which is in charge of our involuntary actions like breathing and heart rate as well as our “fight or flight” response.
Repeat any and all of these as needed. Each of these help us with self awareness and body awareness. They naturally push our minds and our bodies to think about something concrete. When we think about something as simple as making our cheeks huge like a chipmunk, or squeezing our butt cheeks together, it subconsciously takes our mind away from the seemingly never-ending panic.