Hey Simple && Sweeties,
You know the struggle. You’re enjoying your day, big girl panties on, to-do list in hand, and a hustle in full drive. Then it happens, you remember something big, like overwhelmingly big. Your heart goes icy and pools in your belly, you can’t breathe and you want to run, scream and hide. But you don’t run, scream or hide because you aren’t crazy. And so you just stand there, wanting to scream but can’t because your body is betraying you. You’ll get over it, you know you will, but the anxiety is rolling through you in one big, thick, ugly, slow wave.
I know this all too well. This is my last semester in college which means I can’t slip up at all. No pressure. I’m taking 17 credit hours, have two jobs, am applying to law school (which means that my future is in limbo and at the mercy of admissions councils who don’t know me from Adam), have a cat that depends on me for life, and a boyfriend who enjoys going out and being social on the weekends (an introvert’s recipe for a meltdown haha, but thank God, I like his friends…except for you Mandel, you’re just alright). Oh and I’m an INFJ as if that helps my social anxiety.
So point being ^, anxiety and I are friends. The “I tolerate her because she’s always around, but I really hate her guts” kinda friends.
So what is an anxiety attack?
An anxiety attack is the physiological response to stress. Once triggered, a cocktail of hormones is released into the bloodstream causing your system to overload. It’s like something inside you hit the panic button causing everything to go on alert. These triggers your amygdala, or fear control center of the brain, causing the person to have a fight-or-flight fear response to the stimuli.
You can have a rapid heartbeat, start sweating, chills, chest pain, shortness of breath, numbness and shaking. Crazy right? Because the reality of it is, you’re fine through it all. As far as lasting effects, physically and mentally, there’s no lasting harm. (Source)
&& that’s Step 1.
Step 1: Stay put && realize what is happening.
Sometimes, a panic attack isn’t triggered. It can come out of nowhere! Great, right? No, not at all. When you suspect something isn’t right, remain calm. Stay still and ride it out. Calmly tell whoever you are with what is happening if you can. Sit && breathe. It’ll only last for a few minutes even though it may feel like longer.
The unfortunate part is that it’s going to happen, you can’t avoid that fact. You can expedite the process however. With a few little physiological hacks, you can redirect blood flow and increase circulation.
Get control of your breathing.
One of the most counterproductive effects of not being able to breathe is hyperventilating to overcompensate. You need to enable manual breathing! Consciously tell yourself to breathe in && out.
In yoga, they encourage us to inhale for 4, hold for 5, and releasing. Repeat this until you start to feel your heart-rate slow.
Throw your hands in the air like you just don’t care.
If you’re in public, fake a yawn. Any sort of stretch that involves large muscle groups will help ease the tension.
Give yourself perspective.
Take in your surroundings. Remind yourself where you are.
What’s the real imminent threat in your bedroom, coffee shop, car etc? A panic attack is a false perception of fear and stress. By realizing that you are actually okay in that moment, you can regulate your mind which will in turn regulate the body’s response.
Buzzfeed recommends that you choose a spot on the wall and focus on your peripheral vision. I haven’t been able to try this one, but it’s worth a try!
Walk it off.
For the really big ones, sometimes it’s better to excuse yourself and move. Go to the bathroom, fill up your water bottle, or just go for a round about the building. Like I mentioned before, larger muscle group activation helps relieve tension.
Go to your happy place.
One of my best girlfriends suffers from intense anxiety attacks and she recommends this. Her favorite places in the world are Australia and Costa Rica, so when she feels like she’s going to start panicking, she does the aforementioned steps and imagines that she’s on the beach. Where’s your happy place?
Step 2: Be kind to yourself.
They happen. Unfortunately, your betraying body cut into your productive time, but it happens to 1/3 of the population. You wouldn’t beat up your friend after she got dumped by her boyfriend, so why should you mentally berate yourself for something beyond your control?
Give yourself a 5 minute mental pep-talk. You got this!
Step 3: Mental Care Post Attack
Reassess your to-do list.
Have you been taking on too much? Is there anything you can move to tomorrow’s plate? Do you even have a to-do list? If you don’t have a list, I highly recommend you make one. Writing down what you have to do not only helps you prioritize the tasks && time manage, but there’s a mental satisfaction that comes with scratching off the little time suckers.
Change the scenery.
Take the afternoon off if you can. Work from home in bed with your pj’s on, go to a coffee shop or the library. Sometimes just being stuck in the same place for a long period of time is enough to make you stir-crazy.
If it’s not a workload-related/deadline stresser, disappear. Turn off your phone, disconnect and focus on what you feel you need to do at that moment. Long-term boyfriend dump you out of no where? Someone passed away? It’s okay to process! Retreat and take care of yourself .
Step 4: Physical Care Post Attack.
Eat something natural.
When you’re stressed, it’s so tempting to get a tub of Blue Bell and go to town on a sugary, carby, startchy naughty snack. Then, you get the overwhelming remorse post-binge. This negativity is the last thing you need to bring into your life and body. Opt for a fresh smoothie or veggie chips when you are craving something sweet or salty.
Unwind && relax.
Nothing soothes me more than a bath with eucalyptus && lavender salt and my essential oils diffuser on full blast. Put on some relaxing music and turn the lights down low. Set the mood && relax.
Get the endorphins circulating.
My go-to stress reliever is yoga. It’s something you can do the first or last 15 mins of your day. The effects are amazing for something so minimal. You can find free videos on Youtube.
Go running, take a dance class, or even meditate if yoga doesn’t seem like you.
Keep in mind that this is for the occasional anxiety attack. If you suffer from multiple episodes in a short period of time, it may be time to talk to a doctor.
I hope this helps those of y’all who want to conquer the world, but have minor lapses in self-care. You have a right to a day off!
For more, follow me on social media. I’m everywhere. If you want to follow my life in mini photo blog form, add me on snapchat where I post meals, workouts, and random pretty things I come across 🙂 Username: sarah.berlanga1
Check Out The S&&S Co. Pinterest Page
&& Don’t Forget to Follow the Health && Fitness Board