Do you or someone you know struggle with anxiety and/or panic attacks? This has been something I have dealt with myself for the last five years and I have finally learned to spin what most see as a negative into a positive.
My anxiety and panic attacks come and go as they please, and I never truly know when it is going to be a good day, week, month, or year. In the last five years, I have gone from weeks on end with countless panic attacks a day that have left me broken and drained, to also experiencing the bliss of one year free of a single anxious thought or panic attack.
As I grow and change, I have to learn to adapt to my new surroundings and thoughts. I am here to tell you that I haven’t found a special cure, because there is no cure for an anxious mind, but I have learned to cope.
I have actually learned more about myself through my anxiety than I have from most major life situations. I have learned how strong I am to be able to accept something that makes me feel so unlike myself. I have learned to deeply love the soul of the girl whose body violently shakes on the couch as tears roll down her face, because she is frustrated that it’s happening again. I have learned that I am completely capable of being in control of my anxiety and my racing thoughts, feelings, and heart rate.
I have learned to calm my mind. I know I am not “fixed”, but I have finally accepted that both my anxiety and panic attacks are apart of what makes me, well, me. So why not learn to love myself through it all?
Here are a few ways that have helped me cope with my anxiety and panic attacks.
1. Ground Yourself
Are you feeling a panic attack coming on or are you already there? Fine! Accept that it is happening and start to immediately ground yourself by finding four things around you that you can see, three things around you that you can touch, two things that you can smell, and one thing that you can taste. I use this technique to help ground myself when I feel my anxiety coming on. It is a very simple way to distract your mind and thoughts so that they don’t race out of control.
2. Breathe Deeply
This sounds cliche because we breathe all of the time, but my yoga practice has taught me that your breath is key in relaxing your mind and body. When you feel anxious, breathe in for five seconds and out for eight seconds. The key here, is to make sure that you are always breathing out at least two seconds longer than you are breathing in. This technique helps reset your heart rate and your breathing pattern.
3. Stay Active
Yoga is my favorite way to connect to my soul when I feel anxious. The entire practice is spiritual and grounding, and also a super good workout! Recently, I have realized that I have terrible posture and spend so much more time sitting during the day than I used to in college. Yoga helps me to stretch and release tension from my head to my toes. I have actually had yoga classes where the anxiety floated right out of my body. Whatever your activity is, make sure it helps you release stress and tension. Most workouts will help to increase your endorphin levels, which will neurologically make you happier!
4. Use Essential Oils
This has been a tool I have used to aid me in coping with my anxiety. It has been proven that 100% essential oils like lavender, frankincense, and eucalyptus have a calming effect on you nervous system and mind. I sleep with a diffuser each night that is usually filled with water and drops of lavender. I no longer experience anxiety or panic attacks in the middle of the night! I sleep so much deeper and feel incredibly refreshed in the morning, all from a few drops of lavender essential oil in a diffuser.
5. Remove Caffeine and Excess Sugar From Your Diet
As someone who used to eat as many donuts, chocolate, and sweets as I could get my hands on, I promise, you can do this! I was shocked when my internist told me that I should try to cut these from my diet to better control my heart rate. If you already suffer from anxiety and/or panic attacks, chances are you have experienced a fluttering or racing heart at some point. This would always make my panic attacks worse because my heart would race so fast, it would actually start to physically hurt and cause chest pain, which made me think I was having a heart attack. I suffer from mitral valve prolapse, which tends to make my heart flutter more often than not, but it always resets itself to the correct beat after a few minutes. Cutting out caffeine and excess sugar and sweets has really helped keep my heart rate normal, which has lessened my anxious feelings caused by rapid palpitations.
I have also tried meditation, floating, and a few other coping mechanisms along the way. I plan to expand more on some of these specific tactics in future posts about mental health.
Anxiety can make you feel very alone and afraid, and I am hear to tell you that you are not alone and don’t be afraid. If you feel like you need to talk to someone, I am here for you. I really am. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to that understands what you are going through, and I am more than happy to simply listen or offer advice. I am here to share your struggles, your bad days, and your triumphs.
If you want to reach out to me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
You can do this. You are stronger than you think and braver than you believe.
If you or someone you know suffers from either anxiety and/or panic attacks, what are some more suggestions for coping mechanisms?
All of my love and positive vibes your way xoxo