5 Things to Do During Your Next Anxiety Attack
What do you do when you’re having an anxiety attack?
I don’t know about you, but when I feel that horrible squeezing feeling that shortness of breath as panic sets in, my first impulse is to lash out or run and flee.
If you feel this way, hear me now:
You are OK.
This is your body’s fight or flight response to being triggered. It isn’t for us to decide whether it makes sense or not that our anxiety button has been pushed. Our job is to take care of that anxiety.
You are OK.
How do you take care of yourself when you’re having an anxiety attack?
I recently had one. It was last Sunday. I had to work and our place was a mess. I spent time tidying only to have my youngest throw a massive tantrum, complete with throwing his belongings about because he couldn’t find a toy he wanted. Both boys wanted different things cooked for breakfast and I had run out of time for a shower before work.
I was sweaty, tired and out of sorts.
Triggered, my mind started on a cycle of, “I can’t do this. It’s too much.”
Triggered, my body started to feel like it wasn’t getting enough breath.
Triggered, my panic, anxiety and anger set in.
I wanted to yell, scream, flee.
Instead, I took myself to the bathroom. I cried. I took deep, mindful breaths. I found my journal and wrote. Slowly, slowly, I came back to myself.
What I didn’t do feels like a win. I did not lash out. Instead, I took care of my anxiety.
Anxiety sucks. It’s painful, both mentally and physically. However, it is in our power to take care of our anxiety and thrive anyway.
Today, I want you to list on a piece of paper all of the healthy ways you can find comfort during an anxiety attack.
Some of my favorite ways include:
I like to write stream of conscious when I’m in the midst of an anxiety attack. This mind dump never fails to help soften the edge of panic.
I used to waste a lot of energy on trying to appear composed when I was anything but. However, letting myself cry when I need to cry often shortens the lifespan of my attack.
3. Reach out.
Anxiety and panic buddies are lifesavers. Find one! Pick a friend who can be a safe space for you to call, video call or text when you need help grounding after the launch of an anxiety attack.
4. Take a walk.
Not quite the same as fleeing, a walk can help give you space from the feelings. Nothing feels more expansive than looking up at the sky, which is just the right antidote to the constrictive nature of an anxiety attack. Not only that, but walking triggers feel-good endorphins and we need more of those!
5. Mindfully breathe.
When we panic, we tend to breathe shallowly. Practice deep, even breaths to combat this. I like to do a 4/8 breath, where I breathe in for a count of four, pause, then breathe out for a count of eight. Works every time.
Keep this list handy and promise yourself that you’ll try at least one of these (or all of these) the next time you an anxiety attack.
Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash