Methods to Calm a Panicked Mind
Jul 17, 2019
Anyone with anxiety knows that it can be hard to ignore the tell-tale feeling of a building panic attack. All too often, these feelings can pop up unprovoked, making the symptoms harder to deal with. Here are a few techniques that can help stave off those frantic thoughts:
Pay attention to your surroundings. Keeping your mind in the present can have a calming effect on your runaway brain. Imagine you are writing a story and you need to give a detailed account of the room you are currently in. How would you choose to describe the color of the wallpaper, the style of the furniture or even the other people in the room? Giving your imagination a specific task like this helps you to avoid going further down the path of panic.
Create phrases to repeat in times of stress. Whether it's a word that always seems to make you giggle or a song lyric that makes you feel confident, try to have those words in the back of your head when stress starts to rise. If you're in an environment where you can do so, say the phrase softly to yourself to give the words more power and keep you more focused.
Use a 'worry stone'. Find a stone or similar small object and keep it with you in a pocket, purse, or briefcase. When your mind starts to get agitated, hold your stone in one hand and rub your thumb back and forth across the surface. Notice how smooth or rough your particular object feels and concentrate on that. You can even pair this with the first exercise and think about how you would describe the texture of your object.
Controlled breathing. It's easy for things to get carried away when you feel anxiety creeping up on you, and your breathing is no exception. Many people experience shortness of breath and/or rapid heartbeat during times of panic, but by taking the time to notice your breathing we can slow down these symptoms. Breathe in slowly through your nose, counting up to 5 Mississippi as you do so. Then, exhale slowly out of your mouth, this time counting up to 7 Mississippi. Try this for at least one minute and see how your mind and body feel afterward.
Have faith. A big part of making it past a panic attack is believing and knowing that it will pass. Remind yourself in a kind way that you've made it through this before and can continue to do so. Take each day one at a time and feel free to reward yourself when you make it through a stressful situation, there's nothing wrong with celebrating little victories.
All of these strategies can be done privately, but that doesn't mean you have to deal with anxiety on your own. There's no need to feel scared or ashamed to talk to someone about how you feel, whether it's a friend, loved one, or even a professional. Reach out and contact us if you'd like to start working with a therapist. And remember, you are not alone in this.