Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How To Cope With Moments of Panic

Note: This post was written while I was on the bus to NYC and posted from my hotel.

Hi, friends!

I’m writing this on the bus. I’m on my way to New York City for a couple of press gigs, and I must admit… I’m feeling a little anxious. Whenever I travel, this happens: from about an hour before I leave until the bus or car hits the road, I start to feel hot, my hands shake, my stomach hurts…. You know all the symptoms.

I’ve become a pro at talking myself down. As I write this, I’m easing into my trip and using my healthy coping skills to calm myself.

Here are some tried and true skills you can use next time you start to feel anxious:

* Remember to breathe! For something that’s supposed to be second nature, when we’re nervous, breathing takes so much effort that we sometimes forget to do it. In your head, repeat, “Breathe. Breathe. You can do it. Breathe”. Slowly. Place a hand on your tummy and feel the air come in and out of your body. It helps a lot!

* Mantras. Repeating something positive in your head is essential, especially if you have OCD symptoms that involve repeating (often negative) words in your head. When I panic, I have to tell myself “please don’t be sick, don’t be anxious…”. If I don’t, I feel like the world is going to end or I’m going to explode or… I don’t know. It’s terrifying. And it’s ridiculous, repeating words like that. But I panic if I don’t… UNLESS I use mantras. Sometimes “breathe” works. Other situations call for something more complex, like “I can and I should and I will do this” or “everything will be okay because everything has to be okay”. Harness the power of meaningful words plus repetition.

* Fidget toys. Play with a rubber band ball, wear a chunky beaded bracelet, hold a stuffed animal, take up cross-stitch or knitting… Anything to keep your hands busy and mind occupied. Focus on your toy’s texture. Squeeze it. Channel all your emotion into the inanimate object.

And having written this, I already feel so much better! I hope these tips help you too.

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