We all have anxiety and worries but sometimes they hold us back from living life: traveling, starting relationships, making friends, getting out of house, having peace of mind. . . I took this picture during a trip to Hawaii with my wife. It was a breathtaking experience but if I let anxiety hold me back, I never would have gone. I would love to see you get more out of life but maybe panic or anxiety is holding you back. If so, you may not know where to start or what’s that first step. Here’s help. This is a list of small but significant changes you can start today and many take 5 minutes or less.Pick at least one to start doing today. Change happens because of an accumulation of small victories not a single action. Best wishes on your journey.
- Learn guided imagery. There are tons of videos on youtube. Here’s one of my favorites.
- Take a walk. Any kind of exercise burns off stress, lifts the mood, and helps you deal with anxiety and panic.
- Meditate. It’s simple and will improve your mood, reduce anxiety, and teach you how to be calm after an anxiety and attack. This is a great video by Michael Sealey.
- Practice Yoga. It’s physically active, it will limber your body, and release your tension. Even just once a week is helpful. This is a good video. If it’s not your cup of tea, youtube is teeming with others.
- Practice Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a gentle form of movement based on an ancient Chinese practice. It’s easy on the body but focuses the mind and is great for people who struggle to sit still.
- Distract yourself. If you’re analyzing how you feel or worrying about whether you’ll have another panic attack, take your mind off it by doing something else: listen to music, watch a move, read, wash the dishes, go for a walk, talk to a friend. Anything that distracts you.
- Take a hot bath or shower. Sometimes, we need physical comfort. A warm shower can lower your blood pressure, relax your muscles, and calm your mind.
- Read a self-help book. My best recommendation is David Carbonell’s Panic Attacks Workbook. A simple but comprehensive self-help guide. (See my post on the best books). In the near future, I’ll be publishing my own e-book on the topic.
- Talk to a friend. Getting support is helpful but you don’t have to share your deepest struggles. Just talking to a friend about how your day went is helpful. Many studies show that people with more social interaction are healthier and happier.
- Go online for help. Join a Facebook group or a forum that can provide support and advice. Psychcentral has several good ones.
- Be grateful. Make a list of 3 things that you are grateful for, especially things you take for granted, like having a partner, a supportive family, being free for serious illness, having food and shelter.
- Journal. Writing about your feelings can sometimes help you understand yourself and give you a chance to get your feelings out.
- Reduce caffeine. You might love coffee or energy drinks but the caffeine can increase stress hormones and disrupt sleep. Stopping cold turkey is hard but try to limit yourself, go decafe, or cut down your intake by half.
- Learn diaphragmatic breathing, which you can use during a panic attack or just to relax.
- Drink a hot cup of tea. Teas can be relaxing and soothing. Make sure you pick a low or caffeine free tea, like peppermint, chamomile, fruit teas, or decafe teas. Watch out for black teas, which have high levels of caffeine.
- Remember your fears are just fears. Panic can make you feel helpless and vulnerable. Try not to buy into the negative cascade of thoughts. See these thoughts as just the panic and not reality.
- Do something kind for someone. Just being nice to others lifts our mood as this study I can be simple acts like opening the door open, giving someone a compliment, carrying something for someone, asking if you can help someone who looks lost. . .
- Imagine something positive: your dog licking your face, your cat purring, your kids laughing, your partner hugging you, sitting in a bubbling hot tub, walking on a beautiful beach. . .
- Listen to nature. It sounds simple but nature is all around us. Even in the heart of the city, birds are singing, crickets are chirping, and bugs are buzzing. Stop and listen. Appreciate and marvel at what is around you.
- Remember you’ve been through this before. How many attacks have you survived? You will make it through this and it will get better. It does every time.
- Talk to a professional. Get help if you’re feeling stuck. Therapy can give you new insights and the encouragement you might be lacking.
- Think of something positive about yourself. It could be your smile, your intelligence, your athletic ability, or your personality. We all have something positive.
- Laugh. Think of your favorite comedian, a hilarious movie, your child doing something ridiculous, your friend’s silly antics.
- Write down your worries. Then throw then in the trash. Sometimes, we stew and stew and just don’t process what we feel. This gets them out of your head.
- Get a hobby. Drawing, collecting coins, learning a musical instrument, Pokeman Go, rock hunting, star gazing, etc. Studies show even show that knitting can reduce depression and anxiety.
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