Having a mental illness will without a doubt directly affect your daily life. This could be anything from not getting enough homework/work done, or not doing the simple little tasks you planned on doing that day. Either way, it’s hard and for the most part really annoying. Today I am going to give you some of the things I have learned help me when I am having an anxiety attack.
Overall, an anxiety attack for me can be from something as small as obsessively playing with my hair or shaking my leg, to a full-blown melt down where I cry and can’t catch my breath. With the help of my therapist, I have developed a small list of things that aid in re-grounding and focusing myself.
- The first is something you may have already heard of and has to do with the senses. First, find something that you can see. It can be literally anything that’s currently in front of you. Next, find something you can touch. If my boyfriend is near, I will hold his hand for this, or sometimes I even just feel the pattern on my jeans. Then, listen to whatever noises are with you right now. Next, take a deep breath in and identify any smells you can (if you have enough time, you can even light a candle, incense or use an oil diffuser for extra calming effect). Finally, tune in with your taste-buds (here you can make a tea or other type of drink for yourself, or simply focus on the taste of your own mouth as odd as that sounds). This technique will help you calm down as well as get you focused on the here and now. I find myself doing this at least once a day and I really believe in it’s calming effects.
- Another thing I have taken the time to practice is breathing exercises. This one in particular really helps to focus your mind as well as slow down your heart rate. First, take a 4 count worth of deep breath in through your nose. Make sure to inflate your tummy first, and then your chest. Then, on the exhale, again do it for 4 counts, making sure to empty again your tummy first and then your chest. Do this for as long as you feel you need and really focus on isolating the tummy and chest.
- The next thing that really helps me is simply talking to a friend. Sometimes I don’t even talk about what is bothering me. Just the feeling of knowing you’re not alone or that someone cares enough to talk to you can have a calming effect. If I do talk about my anxiety, I only talk on it to the extent with which I feel comfortable but I am also completely honest as then the person can help me to the best of their ability. Whether you need advice or just comforting, having someone to chat with could relieves the sense of doom the attack can bring with it.
- The last thing I like to do during this time of panic is to write the reason I was triggered down. This helps to see your anxiety, rather than just feel it. From here, you can think about whether or not it was a logical and reasonable attack and any possible solutions or alleviation. Writing it down also can help to remind you that you have more power over the anxiety than it does over you. If it helps, once you’re down, crumple up the paper you wrote it down on and throw it away!
Now, not all of these will work for everyone and of course there are tons of other techniques out there. I strongly recommend experimenting with a few different things before deciding which ones are for you. Explore social media like Pinterest or different groups on Twitter and Facebook to find out more hacks, or have a talk with your therapist! Having an anxiety attack doesn’t need to be painful, time consuming, or the end of your productivity. Having ways that you know you can calm down and ground yourself can make facing these attacks much easier. As I said before, you have power over your anxiety, not the other way around.