I was scrolling through my Word press reader. What pops up was an article specifically about battling anxiety.
I followed it and read the blog post.
Anxiety is one of the biggie type symptoms for PTSD. I like her description of symptoms for anxiety. Take the time to read through her list. I recognize several symptoms that also come with PTSD. Anxiety is one of those symptoms that shows up in many different mental illnesses. Her suggestions are familiar to me.
1. Time alone….this is difficult if you have responsibilities that need constant attention….aka children, especially small children. Tag teaming with a spouse or friend that can watch the kids plan time alone. Other responsibilities make time alone difficult. I value the time at night when I can process and think about what I am feeling about events of the day.
2. Head phones for cutting outside noise. Stresses and Dresses idea is a great one. Check it out. I don’t use head phones since it is one of my triggers. I do use music to help calm me. Visualization of a peaceful scene is a common go to relaxation tool.
3. Slow down your breathing….I mention this often since a whole host of symptoms that I had were directly related to breathing too quickly and hyperventilating. Breath in for count of 5 slow counts, breath out for 5 slow counts.
4. Use all 5 of your sentences to take stalk of yourself right now. What can you hear? Are you sitting on a soft or hard chair? What colors are around you? What can you smell? Do you like the smell? Reach out and touch what is close to you, describe in your mind how that feels. One counselor called this practicing mindfulness.
5. Do something to remind yourself that you are OK. I agree with Stresses and Dresses that fearing what you are feeling or experiencing only intensifies the fear and anxiety. I keep a card with statements that I wrote when I was calm to read when I am feeling anxious. I know myself best and I know what to write that clicks with me. Writing where I can read it helps me to overcome the flooding emotions in my mind.
More tricks that I use during an anxiety attack….
Move rhythmically actions such as drawing, rocking, walking, jogging, dancing, or exercise these are all repetitive motions allow the body to do something else while I grapple with the chaos in my mind.
Distract myself…a mindless game, a Cooking TV show (or what ever show you might like), a few minutes on Facebook, are all ways to distract myself from present feelings. Emotions want front and center attention, when I don’t pay attention they change. (Please note….occasionally emotions will escalate when ignored….use this method with care.)
Totally OK to write a list of ‘go to’ suggestions that you noticed work. During anxiety attack the mind doesn’t think clearly, notes or reminders to self help get past emotional flooding.
When the attack is over…….may take a while…..take time to ‘sit with’ what led up to the panic attack. Ask yourself these questions:
1. What was I doing just before the panic attack started?
2. What thoughts were going through my head?
3. Had I eaten or not eaten that day?
4. What routines changed lately?
Think of other questions to give yourself permission to accept what you are feeling. I discovered, the hard way, that denying my feelings only put them in temporary cold storage. Temporary means they come back again and again until I allow that concern to be heard. To me, this is one of the great values of counseling, talking over with someone else and getting a new perspective to squirrel cage thoughts.