Trauma, and certainly panic, tend to take your breath away, or have you holding yourself so tensely that hardly any breath can hardly get in or circulate throughout your brain and body.
That means you can’t access what you need to get you out of a panic attack and bring you back to your body.
Before we go deeper, here’s one quick way to settle down a panic attack. I realize from my own experience that just thinking about panic attacks can bring them on, so we start here first.
4 STEPS TO DISSOLVE A PANIC ATTACK RIGHT NOW:
- Breathe deeply and slowly into your belly at least 4 times. Keep it up if you can.
- Feel how gravity keeps you connected to and supported by Mother Earth.
- When you find yourself tensing up, sway gently side to side and remember to breathe into your belly.
- Check in and notice any emotional, physical or energy shifts. Is the tension melting? Have your shoulders dropped a bit? Are your eyes more relaxed? Be aware of your body.
What I just shared can help you settle a panic attack down or prevent one in the first place if you catch if fast enough, so if you feel triggered by thinking about panic attacks, come back here and do the 4 steps above.
In between panic attacks, I’ve got some exercises for you to help you over time, and to eventually catch an anxiety or panic attack before it hits you hard or at all.
Just so you know where I’m coming from, here’s where I get my information:
- I’m a healer and spiritual mentor/teacher and a grieving mother. I get about 90% of my teachings directly from Spirit and lived experience. I’ve had a lot of loss and trauma in my life, most recently the sudden loss of my son.
- Indigenous teachings from various Elders and wisdom-keepers (whom I quote when sharing what they’ve taught me).
- Practices or tips I have learned and used, from my therapists and healers.
In this article, it’s all Spirit and lived experience.
Thanks to Spirit (Creator/Source, my guides and Ancestors) – and my mindful observation of my own body and emotions, I also have learned to pay a LOT of attention to my body.
Here’s why it’s super important to pay attention to your body:
- Your intuition lives in your body. Dissociating makes it harder or sometimes impossible to access your intuition.
- You can exit what I call Anxiety Land – that never-ending mind chatter where all the self-doubt, fear and anxiety lives – simply by belly breathing, but first you need to have some part of you (or a prompt like this) remind you to breathe. That will only happen if you are present in your body.
- When you connect with your body as an ongoing practice, you build a relationship with your human self, and you become more aware of your body’s signals to you when you are in certain emotional or mental states.
- When you know your body’s signals well enough, you can eventually stop or at least slow down and ease a panic attack the moment you feel it starting.
- If you are in a panic attack, you’re probably not fully in your body. Practicing even just belly breathing can help you get back into your body to calm yourself when you are feeling anxiety or already having a panic attack.
Quick reminder to breathe into your belly.
Let’s go deeper. The first 4 steps were to help you stay calm while you learn and practice the rest of the steps here. These exercises below are more of a long game, for you to understand and practice over time.
Put an item in your hand that makes you feel calm and peaceful. Remember a time when you felt calm and peaceful. Allow more similar memories to surface too if they come.
Bring as many of your senses into that memory as possible. What did you see, hear, feel, sense or maybe even taste or smell? Where were you? Who were you with, if you weren’t alone? Now let yourself feel that calm and peace and anchor it into your body memory. Notice any changes in your body as you begin to feel more peaceful and calm. Now, the best part: Imagine you’re infusing the object you’re holding with these feelings, and that anytime you pick it up again, it will give you these feelings.
The main purpose of Exercise One is to give you a good solid body, mind and spirit feel-good baseline to come back to when you feel triggered, and an item to help make it easy to bring you back to calm and peace.
After Exercise One, what feelings, sensations and emotions are popping up or flowing through you? Paying attention to the positive feelings will help you recall them more quickly and easily as needed.
Go easy here. Put down the item you had in your hand. What makes you feel slightly uneasy, like you can handle it but it makes you a wee bit anxious or triggered? Notice as you recall that slightly uneasy feeling what happens in your body and with your emotions.
Write it down. Do you feel tension creeping into your body? Are there certain parts of your body where you feel it the most? Does your posture change in a certain way? How does your body respond to just a small bit of anxiety?
Now pick up that item again and go back to those positive feelings of peace and calm.
Quick reminder to breathe into your belly, and also if you feel that anxiety or panic energy rising up in you, go right back to our first 4 steps to bring you back, ground you and help you feel calm again. Then look at your item, move it around in your hands and bring yourself back to that peaceful calm state of being.
By the way, this gets easier and easier as you practice. I used to get panic attacks all the time that lasted up to 4 hours sometimes, but now I rarely get one and can come down from it within a half hour or less. I can usually stop them in their tracks either right away or within a few minutes.
Put your item down again. Ask your Inner Observer – the one not connected to any emotions who can act like a field scientist: What’s triggering you? What usually triggers you? Don’t connect too much to your feelings right now. Just recall and take note of the patterns that show up.
Now pick up your item again and go back to those feelings of peace and calm.
Bring this object with you anytime you feel you might need it (I bring mine almost everywhere). When you pick it up, recall those positive feelings and let yourself really feel them, while also using the item a little like a stress ball, so your hand is getting used to its texture(s), shape, weight, energy and how it feels, and your brain is associating it with good feelings.
This technique got me through one of the most difficult times in my life and still helps me now anytime I need it.
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS:
We both know that PTSD, C-PTSD, Anxiety Disorder and other mental health concerns aren’t going to disappear by waving a magic wand. These practices can help you with the panic and anxiety attacks, and I strongly recommend you get any appropriate support you need. I am not a therapist or counselor but if you’re looking for a mentor/healer I may be able to help. You deserve to be supported.
INDIGENOUS FRIENDS – 24/7 SUPPORT:
CANADIAN 24/7 SUICIDE HOTLINE: 833-456-4566
USA SUICIDE HOTLINE: 1-800-784-2433
WHERE TO FIND A THERAPIST: Psychology Today
SPIRITUAL & MENTAL HEALTH HEALING & MENTORING: Book a time with me to see if we are a magical match to work together privately (virtual).
PICKING UP THE PIECES 13 MOON PROGRAM FOR WOMEN: We open the doors 4 times a year and we have a waitlist when doors are closed. Register or get on the Picking Up the Pieces waitlist here.
TO KEEP IN MIND AND PRACTICE OVER TIME:
Hold your item often and feel peace and calm.
Practice Steps 1-4.
When you have come down from a panic attack and you feel better, quickly take notes on what you felt and where in your body you felt it. Take notes on what triggered you. I started my own body journal years ago to help me really get to know my body and its language.
If you can figure out what starts your panic attacks and how they show up in your mind and body, then when they show up, you have an advantage. If you can recognize and feel it before it gets bad, then it’s easier to stop a panic attack before it gains momentum.
For example, my panic attacks start with intense emotion and a feeling of energy rising up in my body. I freeze and soon after that, I can’t process what people are saying, and my eyes tear up. If I can catch that moment of energy rising, I can stop it or at least make it more manageable.
Once the panic really hits, you’ve lost access to your body’s and mind’s wisdom and you are in Anxiety Land. Imagine you get to Anxiety Land and you’re like “nope, I’ve seen this place before and I’m not going there.” These steps and exercises can help. It just takes practice.
I created a very special sacred item to help me get through the court case connected with my son dying, and that case took 9 months off and on to complete. I held that sacred item every single day in court, and now in my Picking Up the Pieces 13 Moon Program for women, I teach my students how to create their own, because of how powerful it is.
Remember it all starts with a belly breath. Also, reading this article is one thing but doing the steps and exercises is how you will make things better.
Bookmark this page so you can come back anytime you need it.
- Want to dive right in and get some support? Head over here.
FOLLOW ME ON SPOTIFY – MUSIC FOR THESE CRAZY TIMES:
- Follow My Artist Account on Spotify.
- Follow my Global Pandemic Playlist on Spotify. The studio (CD, not live) version of the songs I sang in the livestreamed concert are also in this playlist.
- Follow the RENEWAL Playlist for springtime on Spotify