Drop into the Sense of Touch
You are quite distracting yourself here. When you feel anxious, three things are happening.
- You experience a bad feeling
- Thoughts are churning in your head
- Sensations are present your body
Thoughts and feelings lock you in. “I just want this to stop” “why is this happening again” “I can’t breath” “why is my heart racing so fast”, “oh my god I’m going to have a heart attack”.
And normally you are fully caught up in these thoughts. They tend to be negative.
As long as you remain with these thoughts, they will hurt you. And you will continue to feel bad.
You experience the icky feeling and you want it to go away, because it is hard to carry on.
If somehow you can get out of this loop of thinking and feeling and pay attention to something else that’s without the “charge”, you may find a break.
And that’s exactly what you are trying to do by dropping into the sense of touch. You direct your awareness away from thought and to the sense of touch.
Try following steps. You do it slowly and at your pace.
- Start with your left foot. Become aware of the sensations of touch or contact in your left foot. It could be the sole or back of the heel or some other part of your feet.
- Move your attention to the right foot and become aware of sensations of pressure or touch present in your right foot.
- Move to your lower legs/calves. If you are wearing pants, do you feel the touch of the clothes? As much as you can, don’t visualize but directly feel the sensations.
- Move to your upper legs, feel the touch of the cloth. If you can’t feel anything move on to the next step.
- Move to the waist and belly, again feel whatever is touching the belly. If you can’t feel anything place your right hand on your belly and feel the touch of your palm.
- Move up to the chest. Either feel the touch of the cloth or move your right hand over the chest and feel it.
- You can place both your palms on your face and feel the touch of your palms on your face.
Repeat all steps if you need to as many times you want.
Challenge: You may not be able to focus on the sense of touch so much. As you may not be used to feel that so much. You might easily pulled back to the thoughts and feeling in your head.
How to over come the challenge: Remind yourself to give the sense of touch a try. When you find yourself back into thoughts, gently go back to the sensations. Even when you are not anxious remind yourself you will drop into the sense of touch the next time anxiety strikes.
Quick Walk, Jog Or Run (Do Physical Activity)
Anxiety or panic attack is truly a fight or flight response. Your body is preparing to fly or fight.
The best natural course and the best resolution for a fight or flight response is to actually fight or run.
While actually fighting is not so decent, you can run or jog. Perhaps not literally from he situation but if you can run, jog or walk it will help your body stop the fight or flight reaction.
Run, brisk walk, jog, treadmill or weights are all good choices.
Start the activity right when you start feeling anxiety.
Challenge: You will be completely caught up in worry and will not feel like (motivated) to do the activity.
How to over come the challenge: Remind yourself that it is truly a fight or flight reaction and you need to fly or fight. Even when you are not anxious remind yourself you will walk/jog/run next time anxiety strikes.
Positive Self Talk about What You Should Do
There is more scientific evidence that self talk rewires your brain and reduces anxiety and stress.
As soon as you start feeling anxious start telling yourself,
“it is okay”,
“this shall pass too”.
Use 2nd person (‘You’ or your name) voice in self talk, it was found more effective than 1st person voice in scientific trials.
“John this is alright.”
“Kathy you will be fine”
“Sally you overcame many such attacks in the past, you will be okay.”
Positive self-talk is more effective. Self-talk about what you should do and NOT what you should not do.
Challenge: You may not feel like. You may feel it is fake.
How to overcome challenge: It is okay if you feel fake. It is okay if you feel you are doing it for sake of doing it. You have to repeatedly practice. Even when you are not anxious remind yourself you will do self talk next time anxiety strikes.
If you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, what is your biggest challenges? Post it in the comment below.