Anxiety is Fear of the unknown: that we do not have control over our surroundings which is followed by not knowing how we are going to react in certain circumstances. What to say, what to do. Ok, we wanted to be/or not in this particular situation (doesn’t matter which). Now what. I have no idea what to do with myself, and I do not like this about myself. There might be coming up some behavior patterns that we did not know we had, or if we knew, we do not like them. And the question here is how much do you know yourself so you can deal with your own patterns of behavior in different circumstances.
Tips to overcome this particular type of fear would be to become aware of which is which, how does it feel in the body, and exploring what exactly are you afraid of: new places, new people, new feelings inside yourself which you do not know how to handle. Identify as much as possible and then do research about particular ones or all of them.
If you want tips and tricks over how to cope with anxiety on the spot, I have the following advice.
Breathe. Make sure you are breathing with your belly. Like small children. And the reason we need to breathe like that is because the biggest capacity of our lungs finds itself close to the belly. Like you see in this picture. In the chest, the lungs are both smaller as surface and surrounded by ribs, and there is not enough room to take in the necessary amount of oxygen we need. The feeling of panic and anxiety comes also because we stop breathing the brain does not have enough oxygen to think and to make a survival plan for us.
Drink water: After breathing, drinking something (preferably water) is the next action that can produce contact with our body. Swallowing a zip of water brings to our body the sensations we feel on our throat and we need that, and it also helps us hydrate. Water is for the brain what air is for the lungs. Keeping ourselves hydrated is one of the most important things we can do during the day, especially when we travel and we need all the senses with us. The act of touching and holding the recipient we are drinking from has also an effect. It gives confirmation to our body of its existence, in a moment when we have a tendency to lose the contact with ourselves and our body.
Eat/Chewing something: gum, food, preferably something that is crunchy and has resistance. The act of chewing is also a good help against panic and anxiety. It confirms the existence of our body and creates a state of being awake. There is research that the best way to keep yourself awake is to eat, to chew something. So, eating gum or something will always help. Have a small bag of crunchy stuff in your bag at all times.
Feel your feet on the ground. Our feet gives as stability, and carry us no matter how much we weight. That is what we need to feel in our feet and legs as soon as something unexpected happens – our weight. Concentrating the attention towards the ground and our feet can give us the support we need in the moment. Of course, it is even better if we can sit down, on a chair, bench or even on the ground, if that is possible.
Touch: touch something: a bag, a scarf, a piece of jewelry, a wall, a fence, a table, the floor, or the grass if we are sitting. The biggest the surface of our body that we can ground by bringing it in contact with other surfaces, the better.
Speak with someone or sing: If there are people around, speak to them. It will connect you with another human being and that is most likely that it will change your state in your body. If there is no one to talk to and you cannot call anyone either, sing. Humming helps the body to ground. The sound coming out of our through has also a very good effect in situations of panic and anxiety.
Handicrafts: Knitting or crochet helps a lot. If you like doing this kind of work, and it is possible to have it with you, then it can be perfect for releasing trough the fingers the energy blocked in your body by the anxiety or panic attack.
Write by hand: writing or journaling is a very good way to take distance from the anxiety and panic. Write it down, by hand. It is a good ritual to have for the moments of calm. Write down the events, the people and especially how the events and the people made you feel during your day, your travel. The pen and paper are the cheapest therapist one can get. Writing helps us put distance between us and our feelings, it help getting them out of our body and look at them, measure them, see if they are real.
Draw or paint: drawing is easier when you travel on your own. It’s handy to have a small drawing block with you and a pencil, or a mandala book. If you have such things in your bag, they are excellent for calming down.
All these are good tools for getting out of an anxiety or panic attack. But each of us needs to know what works for us. This is why it is important that everyone who is reading this, is very clear on what works. If you know that you may encounter difficulties that can result in an anxiety or panic attack, it can be a good idea to explore a little bit and see what you like and which of the tools above can work for you.
In case this article had awakened thoughts that may need to be sorted out, please leave a comment, or let me know in confidence and feel free to register for a free session here. A lot can be sorted out in ONE good conversation.
I wish you build resilience!