Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of anxiety and panic attacks.
When you’re spiralling, experiencing a panic attack or facing severe anxiety, it can be hard to calm yourself down. I know that, sometimes, for me, it’s difficult to ground yourself when your anxiety is off the charts. So, how can we help ourselves in these situations?
Over the years, I’ve tried some different strategies and techniques to try and help myself. Some have worked, some have not. But I wanted to share some of the things that have been useful for me in the hopes that it might be helpful for you, lovely reader.
An Icy Distraction
When you’re at the peak of your anxiety and your mind is going at a million miles per hour, try using ice or really cold water. Hold an ice cube in your hand or splash some cold water on your face. I’ve found this seems to reset your mind. Because of the shock of instant coldness, your brain goes “WOAH WHAT IS THIS?” and can distract your mind enough to help you manage it a bit better.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
I’m sure many of you may be familiar with this, and if not, that’s okay. This technique involves you acknowledging five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. Because you’re focusing on something other than what your mind wants you to, it can help relieve an anxious mind.
I talk a lot about self-compassion, and this tip is no exception! Sometimes, it can be hard to do something physically, like using an ice cube, so being able to reassure yourself can be helpful. Whether out loud or repeating it in your mind, telling yourself “I’m okay. I can do this,” can have a big impact. You may use different words to reassure yourself, but if you can think of something to use in situations that are difficult, it’ll make a big difference.
Now, this might be controversial. Younger me would be so mad that I suggested this, but sometimes, the best and easiest thing to do when your mind is racing is to simply breathe. Take a deep breath in through your nose and then let it all out through your mouth and repeat.
These are just some tips and ideas that might be helpful to you. However, if you find something else, that’s awesome! Something that might work for me, might not work for someone else, and that’s okay. As long as it helps you, that’s all that matters.
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