Jamie Price, Wellness Expert & Co-Founder of Stop, Breathe & Think, the award-winning meditation app. Here, she has some great tips for instantly relieving a panic attack and alleviate anxiety that is approaching or has already started.
#1 – Ask questions
When you are in the grip of a particular fear, worry or anxiety, ask yourself two questions:
- Is it really true? Remember that our thoughts aren’t facts. They are like the weather, passing through and changing all the time, so you don’t have to attach to them.
- Am I ok right now? Often our anxiety has to do with concern about the past and worry about the future so it can be helpful to focus on what’s happening right now, in the present.
#2 – Shift into taking deep, relaxed breaths
Emotions, when left alone, last for about 90 seconds. It’s our thoughts and stories about them that keep them going. By switching attention to something physical, like deep relaxing breaths, we can take yourself out of the mental loop that perpetuates anxious feelings, and calm your nerves.
How to do it:
For a few minutes focus on taking deep, calming breaths. Intentionally expand your lungs as you breathe in slowly and deeply, and then without any effort, exhale naturally. Many people feel relief from anxiety after just a few minutes.
#3 – Become aware
Bring awareness to the physical experience of anxiety and visualize the release of these feelings as a black cloud floating away in the sky.
How to do it:
Just pause. Feel the weight of your body and your feet firmly rooted to the ground. See if you can find where the sensation is located in your body, such as in your stomach, chest, or head. Slowly and gently allow yourself to feel the sensation there. Then imagine that the uneasy sensation has gathered in the form of a dark cloud. Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, imagine that the dark cloud is expelled from your body with your outgoing breath. See the dark cloud hanging in front of you a couple of feet away, and watch as the cloud floats away slowly like a balloon. Keep watching the dark cloud float away until it completely disappears.
#4 – Connect to your senses
By bringing your attention to your experience of each of your senses, you can create some distance from anxious, repetitive thoughts.
How to do it:
Wherever you are, focus your awareness on your surroundings. Look around, and take notice of what you see. Just observe the variety of colors, shapes, and textures of what you see. Then focus your awareness on sound. As you listen, just notice what you hear. Try listen to the quietest sound you hear. Next, focus your awareness on your sense of smell. What do you smell? How many different odors can you detect? Finally, bring your awareness to your sense of touch. Reach down and touch the ground beneath you with your fingertips… Notice how many different sensations you feel.
#5 – Scan and Release
When we’re anxious, we tend to tighten up our muscles without realizing it, which can leave us feeling exhausted. Intentionally relaxing your muscles can turn on the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), also known as “rest and digest,” which helps to calm you down.
How to do it:
Scan your body starting with your head. Notice your forehead and eyebrows. Are they scrunched? Notice your teeth lips, and jaw. Are they clenched? Intentionally relax all the muscles in your face. Scanning down to your neck and shoulders, release any tension you may be holding in this area. To your arms and hands, and your chest and belly. See if you can relax all the muscles there. Finally, scan down to your legs and feet and release any tension you may feel. And for a few minutes, allow your body to be loose and relaxed.
Jamie Price is a Wellness Expert & Co-Founder of Stop, Breathe & Think, an emotional wellness app that recommends short personalized meditations tuned to your emotions. Jamie left the ranks of Fortune 500 America with the intention of creating positive change in our world. She was one of the founders of Tools For Peace™ and has spent the last 16 years developing curriculum and teaching mindfulness and meditation to at-risk youth. Jamie has studied and practiced meditation under the guidance of a traditionally trained Buddhist teacher, Lama Chodak Gyatso Nubpa since 2000.