Coping With Panic Attacks and Anxiety - 18 essential tips
(See page 1 / page 2 / page 4 / page 5 )
Recovery from panic and anxiety is a challenging but simple process (simple, not necessarily easy). Fundamentally, the more that you are able to stop doing the things that keep the symptoms activated, the more quickly you will recover. These tips will help you do that.
Every system in the body is designed to maintain its own balance, we just have to give it the opportunity to do that.
Here are tips 7 to 10 of our guide for coping with panic attacks and anxiety.
7. Keep occupied
Some activity ideas
reading uplifting or inspirational books
doing puzzles - sudoku, crosswords etc
take up yoga classes, tai chi, martial arts
join a meditation group
write a journal
photography, crafts, woodwork
design and make something
gardening, window boxes
- Keeping occupied is one of the best ways of keeping your mind off your symptoms and anxious feelings. It will really help you in coping with panic attacks and anxiety and in fact you may even find that you can forget about them altogether for periods of time - maybe just a minute or two at first, later it will be a whole morning, then a whole day. As recovery progresses more and more time will go by without your being aware of any problem.
- It doesn't really matter what the activity is provided it's not too strenuous or stressful - if you have a job that's great (though obviously if it is part of the underlying cause of your disorder you may need to rethink it or consider negotiating less stressful hours).
- Just a word of caution, though. Don’t allow the need to be occupied to be just another way of trying to run away from your symptoms or for it to become a frantic quest to fill every minute of the day. You also need to make sure you get enough rest and look after yourself.
8. Acknowledge and accept your symptoms
- You have these symptoms and these thoughts because your body has been thrown out of balance by stresses of some kind.
- You are not better yet, and for the time being this is how it's going to be.
- Rather than waiting to get better, focus more on accepting your symptoms and living with them ... for now.
- Acknowledge the sensations, “oh, so you’re feeling anxious/scared etc again” and then tell yourself “it’s OK, you’re still out of balance but you will be all right”.
- Use soothing words as you would to someone you love who’s in pain.
- When doubt arises, remind yourself of the logic of this (coming soon to anxietyunravelled.com - the Physiology of Anxiety, understanding how thoughts and self talk can literally begin to stop the brain releasing the chemicals that create the anxious state can be very helpful in coping with panic attacks and anxiety ).
- You are doing everything you need to do to recover, and you will get better.
- Allow the symptoms to be there whilst you recover and get on with other things.
9. Don’t give your symptoms too much attention
- The body is trying to make you become alert to an imminent (non-existent) danger whilst you are coping with panic attacks.
- It is in the nature of this mechanism that it demands your attention and wants you to take the situation very seriously. The stronger the symptoms are the more demanding of attention they’ll be.
- The more attention you give them, the stronger and more entrenched they become.
- This is how the vicious cycle perpetuates itself.
- Don’t let these feelings fool you or force you to take them too seriously. Even a small shift in attitude in this regard will start the healing process.
- Allow your attention to go to other things.
10. Treat yourself with great compassion.
Be kind to yourself. Here's a simple process that you may like to practice regularly as part of coping with anxiety.
- Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.
- Put your attention in your heart area (the general area behind the breastbone). Think of someone or maybe even a pet or place that you love very much and feel all the sensations that go with those thoughts of love.
- Direct this feeling of love to the whole of your own body.
- Hold yourself in your thoughts as though you were your most precious friend in need of loving kindness and support.
- Mentally envelope yourself in compassion and love. Let it surround you and fill you up.
- Especially direct this loving energy towards the places where you feel most discomfort.
- Also include your adrenals (on top of the kidneys in the lower rib area of the back) and the centre of your brain where the mechanisms responsible for the release of stress hormones lies.
- Stay with this feeling as long as you are able.
It will become possible eventually to do this without closing your eyes and to practise it anywhere, any time- lying, sitting, standing or even walking, at any time during the day when you have half a minute (or even less) to spare.
However, it is probably most effective, at least initially, whilst you're coping with panic attacks and anxiety, to devote a few minutes everyday just before sleep or upon waking to this simple, soothing practice.
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