I’ve suffered anxiety for most of my adult life. I was always an anxious child and although it’s something that I feel I’m highly functioning with and that most people wouldn’t notice- over time I’ve developed several strategies for coping with bad anxiety or the feeling of a panic attack emerging. Although I’ve only ever had one panic attack in my life, these are some of the things that have helped me and could possibly help you to:
Regulate your breathing
When you’re anxious most people tend to breathe short and shallow breaths (like when you’re crying) which can then lead to hyperventilation or a full-blown panic attack. Try to breathe as slowly and gently as you can. I had some hypnotherapy a while back when she actually taught me to whisper the word ‘relax’ on the out-breath. I know it sounds so basic, but mastering this response will really help in the long run.
Walk/ run away
I’ve been in situations at work where I’ve felt panic or anxiety starting to surge around my body. The best thing to do is honestly to ask to be excused and make a run for it. You can always say you weren’t feeling very well later on, but there’s nothing wrong with taking some time out away from people to get your breathing (see see) under control.
Cup of tea
This is my number 1 tip I reckon. There’s such a simple process to making a cup of tea. It’s safe, it’s familiar, but it also requires enough attention to ya know- not burn your hand off. Just taking the 3-5 minutes out to do this sometimes really gives me that bit of distraction that I need. Also as a PSA: It’s teabag, hot water, stir, milk, remove teabag. K cool.
FRIENDS, Gavin and Stacey or Big Bang Theory
I have comfort TV that I watch when I’m feeling shitty or anxious. Pick your own but these ones are so familiar to me that they make me feel safe and in control when everything else isn’t.
Count backwards from 1000 in 3’s
This sounds dumb but hear me out- it’s actually really difficult and requires a lot of focus to do anything that tests your brain. I use this one when I’m trying to fall asleep sometimes, because also maths is dull and it makes me tired ha.
Books or films. They are my ultimate safety net. There’s nothing that a bit of HP and dissociating from the real world can’t fix.
As I suffer with OCD one of the main things I’m not supposed to do is seek reassurance from my loved ones. The thing is- that’s one person’s opinion. I find that being told it will all be ok, that I’m fine and that everything is under control really helps me to ease off on the overthinking. Yes don’t keep asking again and again, because it’s annoying- but the people who love you won’t mind helping you out.
Duvet and pillow
My bed is potentially my favourite place on the planet. The last time I felt like I was on the brink of a meltdown I just got under the covers and had a good sob. Always helped when my cats or Lukem get in next to me and give me snuggles.
I don’t think there’s any science behind this one- but massaging your temples or getting someone to give you a head massage really makes a difference to my anxiety levels. Perhaps it’s because my mum used to do that when I was little- but it’s something that I’ve found has stuck.
Run your wrists under a stream of water
This probably has actually 0 scientific backing, but it seems to be a magic formula for me when I’m feeling shitty. I quite often go to the bathroom, take a few deep breaths and try this. I mean it’s a temporary measure, but sometimes that is all that you need.
Let me know if you’ve got any other advice!