I think we all have moments of anxiety and feelings of overwhelm. However, some of us stay in that heightened state for longer periods of time than others. It is also easier for some of us to fall into an anxiety state. I spent many years on prescription anxiety medication and when those didn’t work I added vodka to the mix (this is NOT recommended at all!) . My panic attacks got so bad I didn’t leave my house for several months. It took years to fully detox from all the medications I was on and learn how to handle my anxiety instead of drown in it. I still have anxiety. I still have panic attacks, though not nearly as frequently. Here are some of the ways I have learned to handle this uncomfortable state.
1. Breathe…I have noticed one of the first things to go during anxiety episode is my breath. Deep belly breaths, alternate nostril breathing, and 4-4-4-4 breaths are all excellent ways to regain control of your breath, while adding much needed oxygen to your being. Kicking in your parasympathetic nervous system and getting yourself out of fight, flight, freeze is crucial in panic attacks.
2. H.A.L.T….(hungry, angry, lonely, tired) When I am tired, run down, or plain exhausted my mind starts to amp up. I can over-think everything and end up in a puddle of anxiety. When my heart starts pounding and those feelings of drowning start to encroach I run through H.A.L.T., many times my solution is found in one of those.
3. The 4 questions from Byron Katie…since overthinking is one of my major components to my anxiety I have found Byron Katie’s work to be super useful for gaining perspective. Her 4 questions are: Is it true? Are you absolutely sure that it is true? What happens when you believe that thought/response? Who would you be without that thought/response?
4. Journal…I journal everyday. I keep a gratitude journal, a worry list, a magick/meditation journal, and a free writing journal. Journaling gives me a place to express the chaos in my head and helps me get my words out. Often I find the root cause of my issues by simply allowing myself to purge all the thoughts in my head. My worry list has shown me that most of what I worry about never comes to fruition. My gratitude journal keeps my focus on where I want it to be. I can often find patterns in my free writing journal. All of these have been major tools for me over the years.
5. Move… For me movement is a way to release cortisol and adrenaline while boosting endorphins and gabba. Some of my favorite ways to move are yoga, qi gong, walking in nature, and dancing at home. Taking the time to move helps put me back into my body and gets me out of my head.
6. Meditation..This is one of my go to tools. There are many ways to meditate, depending on what is happening will effect what kind of meditation I choose. Guided meditations have been especially calming to me in times of angst.
7. Phone a friend.. There are times I have run through all I know how to do for myself and when this occurs I reach out to a couple of people in my life. Sometimes a voice of reason and calm on the other end of the phone is what is needed. Both of my people understand me well and will start to ask questions walking me down a path until I have a new solution to try.
There is always a solution. Being proactive in uncomfortable situations helps me regain control faster. It also helps me identify the cause so I can actually resolve the real issue. There are many ways to deal with anxiety, the key is finding many tools that work for you. What have you found that helps you? What can you incorporate into your life? Shine bright my friends, you are worth it!