In all honesty, (and I should be honest), I've been completely overcome with anxiety in the last week or so. Even going to work, an environment where I should feel safe, has felt like a danger zone for me, with continuous thefts and so much drama always going on in the store it's sent me into an overhaul of sheer panic.
I texted Heather (my counsellor) at about 12am this morning. I wasn't just anxious about travelling to see her, but anxious about sitting in a room and talking, something that should come so naturally to me.
After airing my concerns via text, she suggested a session via phone call. Something I was still reluctant to do but knew full well I wasn't able to avoid.
Together in that one hour we managed to come up with what she called a 'blip list' - a list to refer to of strategies to use when I'm having a so called 'blip' of anxiety, and feel sick and overwhelmed. Here's what we came up with.
1) Remembering to take deep breathes.
3) If indoors, opening windows to get fresh air. Or just step outside and take in fresh air.
4) Continuously repeating the mantra 'I am taking control'
5) Finding a comfy place/place of quiet, away from people, phone and technology
6) Reading (this can vary for any person depending on what other activities you use to calm down)
7) Always having a glass of water to hand to ease the dehydration caused by anxiety attacks (even if it means carrying one in your bag 24/7)
8) Having something with a soothing scent to hand. The first two items I thought of was my Yankee Candle to light for 10 minutes, or carrying something with my favourite aftershave of Nathan's - so I can smell it and be comforted.
9) Writing. This is something I personally need to start and hopefully you all can start joining me. Even if it's just a couple of words - you don't even need to look back on it (as I'm sure many people like me hate their handwriting). Just find a colourful pretty notebook and a pen and keep it to hand with you.
10) In extreme cases, making sure you have an emergency contact to call to calm you down.
Those were some of the ideas we had to put on our list. Obviously it can be adapted to suit situations whether you are indoors or out, or so on.
This is not saying that this list is going to be the be all and end all of curing anxiety, but it's a start and it's a plan. Have the list on your phone or written down somewhere in your bag to reference to in a crisis.
Heather and I also came up with other tasks, having a playlist of relaxing and calming songs to hand on your iPod, going for a walk, allowing at least 1-2 hours of relaxation time per day. Small but simple tasks which no doubt seem impossible for hectic rushed people such as you and I, but when focused upon can surely make the world of difference.
All of that and remembering to take my medication (which admittedly, I haven't been *slaps self on wrist*)
Having all of this written down in a list, as a lover of lists, makes me feel a lot more at ease. Of course, it's not a solution and even I laughed at myself thinking 'pah, I'm never going to remember to do this' or 'what the HELL is this going to do', but it's a start and something to at least try.
Anxiety for me is a lifelong thing and is going to take more then just sitting down with a book from time to time, but getting used to a method to turn to when I am as anxious as I have been may help anxiety attacks as they arise to perhaps ease a little more.
So maybe try making a little emergency/crisis list of your own. Share them with me if you can by commenting on the post below!