Unfortunately some people live daily with anxiety and or panic attacks. I’ve worked for over 28 years with many clients and I know that these negative states can be overcome. Panic and anxiety is not natural, it’s a sign that something, somewhere is wrong.
Here are 6 steps to manage anxiety.
- Remind yourself of your age and occupation
- Wear a band on your wrist
- Drown out the negative talk
- Consciously name things
- Use a mudra
Want to know why these will help? It’s a 3 minute read …
Signs and symptoms of anxiety can be psychological, physical and emotional and will range from feeling short of breath, to feeling constricted and tight in the chest. People say things like “it’s like hands squeezing me” or “a belt or band tightening around my chest.” Emotionally they feel scared and frightened or terrified and trapped. Mentally people report thoughts of death and dying or have a sense of some impending disaster.
This is a truly disabling way to be living and whilst it’s my experience that people can overcome these problems, many learn to just live with them.
Enough of the negatives, lets look at some ways to dilute the experience and get back to feeling ‘normal’ as quickly as possible.
No. 1 The action of reminding yourself of your age/occupation will ‘ground’ you back into the present moment. Because panic attacks and anxiety can stem from past events and memories stored in the back of your mind or from things that haven’t actually happened yet, i.e.unfounded fears, this means you’re either stuck in the past or the future. The only bit that’s ‘real’ is now! “I’m a 34 year old mother of 3…” or “I’m a 47 year old business manager and runner… “ can have the effect of bringing you back to the here and now…
…then you can apply No. 2 wear a band on your wrist and ping it hard against your skin two or three times, it acts as a physical prompt (and is something you’re in control of) to startle yourself back to a more conscious state. Since panic attacks can feel like ‘rabbit in the head lights syndrome’ i.e. a trance state, you need to come back to the present where you’ll feel safer.
As you come back to ‘Now’ follow No. 3. I suggest even writing a short script and having it in notes on your phone or on a piece of paper in your wallet. A few positive words of comfort and kindness, words that are empowering and supportive will be welcome and reassuring to the part of you that’s in a panic. It also helps to bring you into a more ‘adult’ state where you feel more in control. If you can’t think of anything comforting to say have a look at my script below.
Then you can take action with No. 4 and consciously breathe in through the nose slowly perhaps counting to four and gently whistle the breath out through the mouth to the count of six or eight. Use a phewwww, or shshsh or ssss sound, it is helpful to actually hear the sound of your own exhalation, again making you more conscious. Do this for at least five breaths.
No. 5 become conscious of your surroundings by mentally naming what you see around you … e.g. “I see another commuter, a woman wearing a green top, I see someone with earphones listening to music, I see a tree, a car, a man walking his dog.” This then becomes a game of mindfulness, where you actively employ your mind in the way you want to use it. Rather than let it use you.
No. 6 bring the thumb and index finger to gently rest against each other (as in the photo) keep the other three fingers straight, do this with both hands and rest them on your lap. Know that you will begin to breathe more deeply in the next few moments and this will help you to feel much calmer. I’m not going to go into why this works here, it’s too lengthy and I don’t want you to take my word for it, I’d far rather you try it yourself.
Keep repeating the steps until you feel more in control
If you know someone who suffers with anxiety please forward this on, to help them.
Self-compassion Script: ” It’s okay now, you’re fine just breathe in through your nose, out through you mouth and relax Everything is okay now. I’ve got you, you’re safe now, relax, that’s it breathe” (It’s essential to use the word now)