Do you struggle with chronic anxiety? Do you default to panic over healthy responses? Taming anxiety takes time and work (I’ve been at it all my life). No matter how much progress you make, it never quite goes away. Here’s an emergency kit of A-Z panic attack survival tips.
A–acceptance. Panic is part of you. It’s not right or wrong. Let yourself feel it. Used right, it can warn you of dangerous situations.
B–breathe. Just that. Deep cleansing breaths, in and out.
C–courage to change. Al-Anon says anxiety comes when we try changing others instead of ourselves. Do you need a change of heart, perspective, scenery, behavior? Do what it takes to make it so.
D–defuse. Panic makes you a time bomb looking for a place to go off. Know and avoid your triggers. Redirect thoughts. Neutralize fears. For me that means staying away from certain situations.
E–exercise. Exercise releases endorphins, says Medicine Net, that naturally sedate stress.
F–forgive. Panic makes us do and say mean, stupid things. Apologize. Make amends. Let others forgive it they will. Mostly, forgive yourself or guilt will thwart your efforts to change.
G–good things. Focus on those. Sure, there are bad things, reasons to panic. But dwelling on them exacerbates anxiety.
H–Higher Power. Whoever or whatever that is for you–connect with it. Meditate, pray, sing–this frees your mind from enslavement to fear.
I–intimacy. Healthy intimacy, sexual or not, can free your mind from care.
J–joy. Identify what brings you happiness and dwell in it. This blocks negative and unblocks positive.
K–kindness. To others, but especially yourself. Panic attacks are debilitating. Congratulate yourself for surviving them.
L–loved ones. Ask trusted people to nurture you through anxiety. My family does this by listening, showing love, affirming me.
M–maintenance. Falling into old habits? Not taking care of yourself? Hit pause, before you melt down. Tune up. Fix what’s not working.
N–needs met. Are you hungry, angry, lonely or tired? Then HALT (a helpful acronym.) Deal with those issues.
O–order. Head off racing panic thoughts before they storm up. Organize. Regroup.
P–play. I overwork and under-play, then wonder why I’m anxious! My go-to play respites are: playground with kids, min-golf, dance and karaoke (don’t judge).
Q–quiet. Shut off the clamor-TV, music, talk, din. Too much noise sets off anxiety like bright lights spark migraines.
R–refreshment. Rest. Recharge. Refuel. Eat a fiber-vitamin-protein snack: fruit and yogurt, almond butter and baby carrots, grilled chicken salad.
S–stop shopping. Leave the store. Close your internet browser. Quit looking at stuff you can’t afford. Over-buying is a one-two panic punch; you feel guilty if you do and unsatisfied if you don’t.
T–talk to yourself. Talk down negative inner voices, Calm, comfort and encourage yourself, as you would terrified child.
U–unplug. Take a technology break. Shut off Facebook with its endless drama. Purposely get out of range of your devices.
V–virtual (avoid it). Shut off Facebook, with its endless drama. Quit pinning nature scenes to Pinterest and go outside and see it live!
W–weather watch. Watch for triggers. Monitor your barometric pressure. Take your emotional temperature. Are conditions right for a panic attack? Forewarned is forearmed.
X–cross out. Spindle, mutilate and otherwise destroy shame. Delete those negative messages that play in your mind.
Y is for yoga. I come home feeling pounds-of-anxiety lighter. I’m more centered, grounded, balanced.
Z is for Zzzz. Take a nap. Get to bed earlier. That’ll keep you positive and healthy.
Try one of these next time you feel a panic attack impending.