8 Ways to Calm When When Anxiety Attacks
Your nerves start shaking, your palms are sweating, and your heart is racing. You don’t always have to suffer through anxiety when it decides to overwhelm you. Take charge of it, and be productive.
Anxiety is nothing new to me. I’ve always put so much pressure on myself, and life has been very overwhelming. I remember when I was in high school, I was sitting in my science class and my boyfriend at the time laughed because I got a B+ on a test. I didn’t find it amusing. I started crying in the middle of class because I had put so much pressure on myself to achieve perfection, that being even slightly off mark made my nerves twitch.
After my brother passed away, I had more and more difficulty concentrating in school and I became more and more rebellious. It came to a point where I completely withdrew from my social circles. After my best friend Jacob passed away, I remember being at home and suddenly freaking out. My boyfriend at the time was on Skype and didn’t know what to do. So I got my mom on the phone and she called for an ambulance to come check on me. They took me into the clinic via ambulance and it came down to me having an anxiety attack. Those happen often. My breath gets knocked out of my chest, and my lungs seem to shrivel up to the a size of an infant’s. Beads of sweat start dripping down my face and my back. My hands get cold and clammy. Tunnel vision in full effect as my head gets dizzy. Anxiety attacks are never fun - but you don’t have to get to that point! Here are some tips that I’ve learned over the years to help prevent an attack once you start getting that aura.
Find peace in chaos
Deep breathing and muscle relaxation (AKA Meditation!) - The first thing that Sean usually makes me do is breathe with him. When he’s with me, he places my hand on his chest so I can feel him breathing slowly and I try to match it. When he isn’t there to do that with me, I use my watch to help queue my breathing. Another helpful app that I’ve used is Headspace! You can choose the length, and I only have the initial free version and it works just fine for me. When I was working with my mental health specialist, she taught me to contract parts of my body one at a time, and then release after a deep breath. This helps the body feel naturally relaxed because you’re tensing up. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s always worth a try.
Working out - Instead of relaxing your muscles, you can go and get a good pump in! This is my number one, sure fire anxiety attack prevention. I know it seems butt-backwards to take a scoop of pre-workout and pumpers while trying to prevent an anxiety attack, but once I get into the gym and start lifting, my focus is unbreakable. It’s the only place where I have a one track mind. This helps your body release natural endorphins that make you happy!
Go-All-Out Bubble Baths with a nice glass of wine - Traveling in the opposite direction again towards relaxing. I love it when Sean and I go to Lush and buy bath bombs. I don’t take very many bubble baths, but I always go all out when I do. I pour a glass of red wine, play chill music, and let the bubbles eat away at my troubles. Sitting in the warmth just helps to relax any kind of tension in my body, and I always feel like I can take a nap afterwards!
Using your phone-a-friend token - When I get really overwhelmed, I always cash in my phone-a-friend token, and it’s usually to my girlfriend Susanna or my hombre Stacy. Sometimes you just need someone to listen to you and help talk you through it. There’s nothing better than feeling like someone is there for you even when you’re in your lowest moments. The biggest thing to remember is that you don’t have to carry the weight on your own.
Having a 10-minute dance party to your favorite throwback jams - This is definitely self-explanatory. Screw that 10-second dance party crap from Grey’s Anatomy! Throw on your favorite throwback album, jam out. Do your 1-2 step, get crunk, shake ya’ tailfeather girl, I see you over there!
Going out to a café with a good book or your headphones and enjoying a cup of coffee - I find that I’m always calm when I can sit in a café with my headphones on, a caramel macchiato, and my laptop just browsing other blogs. There’s something comforting about being surrounded by people but not knowing anyone. Everyone is there just minding their own business, but they’re all participating in the same activity of sitting in that café. I could sit in a café for hours if I could.
Animal therapy - Like I said in my first blog post, my anxiety seems to dissipate the second that I touch my dog Okami. Read my blog here about how Okami helped me out so well. It’s the most comforting thing to know that she will give me unconditional love. No matter how long I am gone, no matter what I look like, no matter how I do at work, she will always love me for who I am. Animals seem to understand us more than we give them credit for.
Get out and TRAVEL! - This may be an expensive way to get away from your anxiety, but it definitely works for me. Every time I feel like I have a lot of built up stress, I find a cheap ticket to a place I’ve never been before and I emerge myself in another culture. Traveling doesn’t always have to be expensive either, it can be to the next city over for a daytrip. I guess this only works if being in an unfamiliar place isn’t something that makes you anxious though.
There are so many things that you can do to relieve your stress. Some people love to be loud and boisterous to get their nerves shaken up, others like to be calm and quiet. Some people can knit for hours, and others play video games. As long as it works for you, keep doing what you do. Just remember you aren’t ever alone, though you may feel that way now.
Love, Jaclyn & Co.