What to do When Anxiety Strikes
Take these steps…
You know the feeling when it hits you quickly. You may know it as anxiety or fear, although in the moment your thinking brain goes offline and you’re in fight, flight, freeze, or submit mode. You may want to lash out physically or verbally, run away, or you feel frozen in fear. It’s happened many times before and you don’t know what to do. You’ve been triggered and while we work through eliminating the triggers through therapy, in the meantime, here’s what to do:
1. When the feeling comes up, say to yourself, “This is just a feeling or body memory and I am triggered right now.” Your body wants to go into survival mode – fight, flight, freeze, or submit. So first acknowledging what is happening is the first step.
2. Take a “Time Out” for yourself. Go someplace safe and quiet to continue to get yourself out of survival mode and get your rational thinking brain back online before you do or say something you’ll later regret.
3. In your safe and quiet place (even a bathroom or closet), close your eyes and ask yourself, “Where am I feeling this discomfort in my body?” (ie heaviness in chest, sweaty palms, tight throat). Then put your hand over the place in your body and notice how you feel. For example, if you put your hand over your chest, you may notice less tension and start to feel a little relief .
4. Notice your breathing. Just pay attention to it. You don’t need to change it. Then take a deep breath and hold it for a moment. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Blow out tension. Repeat 5 times. Inhale self-soothing, exhale discomfort. Just breathe… Stay here as long as you need.