It can be so hard to think rationally when you’re feeling anxiety attacked. It is a constant state of repressed panic that, if not addressed, can feel like you’re trapped in a car that is sinking under water. Anxiety isn’t one of those things you can push aside or come back to later. So I am critical of advice that suggests that people put their anxieties on a self and come back to it later, or take a vacation from their problems. Anxiety never goes away, and it’s one of those things that keeping poking and prodding at your inner most insecurities, but I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. While we all experience anxiety to varying degrees, and there are many people who have severe anxieties. When you’re in the middle of a mini-panic attack or a full-fledged panic attack, you are really the only person who can help you. So you’ll need to be your own therapist. Here’s how to calm anxiety:
Talk To Yourself
Studies show that talking to yourself is not always an act of mental insanity, it’s sometimes a way to rationalize your thoughts and calm yourself down. You don’t have to physically talk out loud, but inside your head, repeat the phrases I will mention below. It’s important to get out of your head for a moment and rationalize what’s going on. Say out loud or in your head, the things that are making you anxious. Typically, when you say them out loud, it brings to light how obviously silly your anxieties are. If that does not work, rationalize them manually. What if X bad thing were to actually happen, what then? Probably not the end of the world. And if Y bad thing were to happen, what then? Also not the end of the world. As you continue to read this article, remember the phrases I give you, and file them away for when you have another episode.
Repeat after me: I will talk to myself and serve as my own doctor. I will treat myself like a person and not like an animal to be controlled. I will not judge myself, beat myself up or make myself feel guilty for having a panic attack.
Understand that you are NOT alone
The feelings that you are dealing with are not a personal nightmare that only you have to endure. There are countless others who struggle with panic attacks every day. Just because you don’t know how to calm your anxiety doesn’t mean you never will. Breathe in and out knowing that there are others that share in your pain and others who sympathize with you. You are not alone.
Repeat after me: I am not alone. Other people feel the same pain I am feeling, so it’s going to be okay.
I don’t know about you, but my anxiety worsens if I feel like people are judging me. If I do something I think someone will disagree with, suddenly I imagine that they are whispering about my questionable behavior to their friends and tainting my reputation. I believe this is a learned behavior, because I only believe people will do this because my family often does this. I grew up in an environment of constant passing judgement. No one was spared. So I assume everyone is judging me for my actions, behaviors, and words and it kills me. It kills me to think that I have been disapproved by others, heaven forbid my family. The reality is, we are going to do many things that people disapprove of and we care A LOT less. We are the best judge of what is best for us. Sure, it isn’t ideal that people are disapproving and judgmental of us, but there’s nothing we can do about that. Everyone’s brains are hardwired to make certain judgements about others. It’s an evolutionary survival skill. That doesn’t mean they hate you as a person, their brains are just hardwired to think a certain way. So I hope you find comfort in knowing that people’s judgement means nothing and that you taking care of yourself and doing what you need to do always takes precedence.
Repeat after me: People are judgmental beings, but I won’t let that affect me. I will be myself/do what I need to do because I know that that is best for me.
Release Your Dependence on Others
This one goes hand in hand with the previous section. A lot of us mistakenly place a lot of our confidence, happiness and self-worth in other people. We constantly need the approval of others in order to be content. As a result, our emotions become a roller coaster of instability. One moment an uplifting statement will make you feel good, but turn around and someone’s disapproving remark can make you spiral back down to nothing. Learn to place your confidence in the aspects of you that you love. Learn to take a step back and appreciate the good in yourself without anyone else’s help.
Repeat after me: I do not need anyone else’s approval to be confident and happy. I have awesome skills/talents/characteristics/personality traits that are admirable to me.
Think of Doing Something That Makes You Happy
I don’t know why, but watching people play video games on Youtube is so therapeutic to me! It’s so funny, and it does an excellent job of distracting me from my anxieties. Don’t ask me why that works because I couldn’t tell you. I also like to meditate to Native American flutes while I imagine myself in the forest. When I’m in the middle of an episode, I just remember those fun things that I like to do and I start to calm down. It is effective because anxiety is like a telescope. You can only see what your fears are forcing you to focus on and nothing else. Anxiety forces you to only see the situation you are in so that you cannot see the resolution until you take a step back and see that there is not only a resolution to the issue but enjoyable activities when the situation inevitably ends. Moral of the story is, think of something that makes you happy and say to yourself, “That’s what I’m going to do when I get home/leave.” Then go do it.
Repeat after me: This situation is not the end all be all. There are fun things to look forward to and solutions to be found. This situation is only temporary.
Imagine Yourself Running Away
Yes, I am giving you permission to imagine running away. You are an adult you can decide whether or not you going to act upon your impulses, but that isn’t the point of this exercise. The point is to let yourself think the thoughts you are repressing. If you are stressed out, anxious, exhausted and depressed and just want to run away, imagine just running away. Be vivid as you can. Imagine running out the door, down the street, passed the buildings and to a place that you find refuge. I like to imagine a forest, but it’s completely up to you. Don’t force yourself to fight away those thoughts and feelings. Instead, entertain them. In your free time, draw pictures of escaping, write a song about it, day dream about it. Express how you feel instead of trying to repress your thoughts and feelings, you’ll find yourself feeling SO much better.
Repeat after me: I will NOT repress my feelings in any capacity. I will let myself feel the way I feel without guilt or regret. My feelings of wanting to escape are nothing to be ashamed of.