These tips are for dealing with non-severe anxiety and panic. I am not a mental health professional, only someone who has experience with anxiety and panic attacks.
Some of the tips are from therapists I’ve had, others I’ve acquired from various sources over the years, or things that I’ve tried and work for me.
If your symptoms are severe, I would suggest calling a friend, family member, or health professional. This is more day-to-day management that works for me.
During this isolation time, I’ve realized that being on my phone, or any device, contributes to my anxious feelings.
–Put your phone or device away immediately.
(I like to move quickly when I feel anxious or panicky, because it can escalate quickly. Catch it as fast as you can.)
–Get up and get moving! Literally get up and start moving your body. Look at your hands and tap them against different parts of your body. Jump, hop, shake, dance, whatever movement works for you. Walk in place or walk back and forth. Don’t stop, move into some other techniques as you relax.
–LOOK around you. What colors are on the wall? Is there a picture hanging on your wall? What objects are in the picture? Any numbers around you? Read them out loud, backwards and forwards. Are books around? Read the titles out loud.
–Put your nose to work! Burn sage, incense, or spray a fragrant scent (one that you like). Take a moment to really take in that scent.
Look in the mirror (once your anxious feelings have calmed a bit). Look at your face, what color are your eyes? Change the hair style of your hair if you can. Move your hair around. Do you have freckles or birthmarks?
Do a task, any task. Unfolded laundry? Just start folding. Robotically at first if needed. Dishes? Just grab the sponge. Look at the sponge, observe it. Look at the dishes, touch them. Feel their texture.
Go outside if possible, or look out the window. Take a deep breath. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, feeling your diaphragm fill up with air. Hold for a second. Exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds. Feel your belly contract as you exhale. Repeat.
As you relax, bring your awareness into the current moment. You are here. Say “I am here. I am right here. I’m here. I’m right here.” You are here, right here. You are here in this moment. This moment is good. This moment is just fine. It’s just here.
If you are currently feeling anxious, please only read the following once you are feeling calm and relaxed.
Anxiety and panic are about disconnection, division. A divergence from the current moment. Your thoughts have been carried away from the present.
In a sense, you are healing the division that is causing your disconnection. That’s why sensory activities are key. It’s not just about relaxing; it is about reconnecting. Touching, seeing, hearing (play music loudly), smelling (burn sage, incense, or use a strong scent or perfume, tasting (I haven’t used this sensory experience with anxiety, but feel free to try).
These sensory experiences and your conscious engagement with them brings you back to the present moment. You realize that here, in this present moment, you are okay. You are intact. Those anxious thoughts were taking you somewhere else, somewhere unpleasant. But you can bring yourself back.
Much love to all who read this. May you feel well and whole.
Here is a link to some professional tips on dealing with anxiety.