Anxiety shows itself to each of us in different ways.
Overwhelm. Panic. Fear. Worry. Depression. Nausea. Nervousness. Restlessness. Lack of concentration. Rapid heart rate. There are many physical, mental and emotional symptoms, and they all add up to feelings of helplessness.
So, what’s going on when an anxiety or panic attack presents itself? Physically, it starts within the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for how we react to dangerous and stressful situations, goes into autopilot and starts releasing hormones and neurochemicals, preparing the body for action. You may have heard it referred to as “fight or flight mode”. This triggers the amygdala, the emotional/fear centre of the brain to think it’s in danger. It’s the parasympathetic nervous system’s job, which is responsible for rest and digestion, to stabilize the body into a calmer state. For some of us, and at different times for different reasons, it takes the parasympathetic nervous system some extra time to catch up.
There are many ways to try to reconnect, and some things will work better than others but the one thing you must realize is that anxiety is not WHO you are. Anxiety says NOTHING about you as a person. We all deal with anxiety in different ways, on different levels and like with any change, we need to put in the work and experiment to see what resonates with us.
A simple ask but not a simple task when you’re in the throws of an anxiety attack, deep breathing can promote relaxation. In through the nose and out the mouth. Breathe into your chest…exhale…then breathe into your belly…exhale…breathe into your back…exhale…and then breathe all the way down into your tailbone…and exhale. With each inhalation, imagine feelings of peace entering your body, and as you exhale, out goes a flood of unwelcome feelings.
Being present calls for mindfulness. Being present helps us keep control over our brain so we can stop worrying about things we don’t need to. Feel the floor. Feel the couch or chair beneath you. What do you see? What do you hear? Let thoughts come and then let them go. Hanging onto negative or distracting thoughts just gives them power.
When it feels like anxiety is pushing at your limits, and it feels like it has nowhere to go, direct it into a larger body that can handle it- the Earth. In an earlier blog, “Why Is It Important To Be Grounded?”, I explain ways to ground yourself with quick meditation and also with mindful walking. Feel free to check it out.
Sounds crazy but this can be surprisingly relaxing. With the tip of your fingers, open handed, tap your chest lightly and slowly work up to a comfortable calming pressure. Just keep tapping until you are calm. You can also do this on the crown of your head with both hands.
Breaking bad sleeping habits can seem like an impossible task. First of all, stop the over stimulation before bed like scrolling on your phone or watching TV. Bedrooms are meant for sleeping (…and sexy times). Yoga Nidra for sleep or relaxation is a great option for people who have a hard time turning their brain off. It does not involve movement at all, just lying somewhere quiet and comfortable with your eyes closed and being walked through a body scan. There are many free meditation apps out there to help you find the right teacher, like Insight Timer.
Dreadful I know, and seems like a very hard task when all you may want to do is shut yourself off from the outside world. We’re not talking hard core here, unless that’s what you like, but walking, swimming, and other gentle activities like yoga can help release tension, divert your attention from what is making you anxious, and change your brain chemistry to increase availability to anti-anxiety neurochemicals.
Small things can grow into big worries; we ALL feel this way sometimes. You are not broken; you are not defeated, and you are most definitely not alone. You are just a human, having a human experience.
Your friendly neighbourhood Crystal Healer,
Lisa at The Crystal Sparrow