There is nothing worse than having to deal with anxiety attacks, especially when they always seem to come at the most inconvenient (and unexpected) times. I used to think I was the only one in the world who experienced them, but once I started having in-depth conversations with my family and friends on my experiences, I was shocked to find out how many people – let alone people I know – experience them too.
Not only did I discover that I wasn’t alone, but I also discovered that talking about it was probably the best thing I could have done. People have shared with me all sorts of different suggestions when it comes to getting through anxiety attacks and great ways to try and prevent them. Of course, what works for them may not work for you, but I’ve learned that being open to suggestions and having the conversation is the best thing you could do.
For me, I know when it’s about to happen. I’ll usually wake up with the feeling. Some people have anxious moments, which I only rarely experience. Others have anxious days. That’s me. You too? Great. Welcome to the Club! I’ll walk you through what that looks like for me:
It’s Friday morning. I wake up with a big lump in my throat and although I managed to get 7 hours of sleep, I only feel like I got 1. It’s a beauty of a day, the sun is shining through the window, my Husband has already begun his morning and I can hear him brewing me a coffee downstairs, which is my trigger to get out of bed. For some reason, despite all of the really awesome things I just mentioned, all I’m thinking about is the fact that in 3 days the weekend will already be over, how badly my back is going to hurt when I’m vacuuming on Sunday because that DEFINITELY needs to happen, how icy the roads are probably going to be on my way to work, what I would do if I got in a car accident and how guilty I feel for not calling my Grandma back last week – all at the same time. | Cue the headache, clammy hands, increased heartbeat, weak voice, and shaky hands.
I swing my legs over the bed and that’s my cue. Stand up Kate… just. stand. up. I manage to cross that off my list (good start). On my way to the bathroom to wash my face, I mentally add Call Grandma back to my to-do list and continue to make my way, but as soon as I turn the corner and look at the mirror I instantly start crying. Like, Kim K crying. The worst part? I don’t know why I’m crying and I don’t know why I’m thinking these things instead of appreciating the beautiful morning I was really missing out on.
I mean, it could be the offensive dark bags under my eyes, the hair that I’m sure every strand is going in opposite directions of each other or the new large and in charge zit I have on my chin. I guess the other 4 weren’t enough!! In hindsight, I have the easiest day ahead of me at work, the worlds greatest Husband, it’s freaking FRIDAY, nothing drastic has happened or changed, but I’m standing in my bathroom bawling my eyes out and feeling over-dramatic for doing it. I want to crawl into a small, tight ball and get lost in the fresh sheets we just put on the night before, but I can’t. I have to put my big girl panties (sorry, I hate that word but it feels appropriate) on and go to work.
Feeling embarrassed about the big show that I was putting on in my bathroom, I had to talk to my person and I had to do it RIGHT NOW. I grab my phone and call my Husband who is now already at work and tell him what’s going on and trust me, it isn’t his first rodeo. He does what he does every single time and reassures me that everything is fine, today is going to be a great day, he distracts me with discussing our weekend plans and what I’m going to eat for lunch, we hang up. I continue with washing my face.
After I gave up the pity party, I successfully eventually make it through my morning routine and to my car (without any injuries). Right on – I’m on my way to work, it’s freakin’ happening and I mentally pat myself on the back for making it through a train wreck of a morning. Okay, just kidding I usually actually pat my back in times like these.
Driving to work, halfway through – all of the sudden my legs tighten up and my heart starts trying to escape out of my chest so hard that I think it might just burst this time. Dammit. It’s like my mind is like “Juuust kidding Kate LOL you thought you were good, WELL you’re NOT.” All I can think is I’ve got to call my Mom. She gave me one of the best pieces of advice to get me through anxiety attacks that she used to tell my Sister and it super saved me that day. She said:
“When it happens Bug (my nickname since forever and ever), you need to take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth, feel your feet touching the floor, your heart beat in your chest, hands on your steering wheel, your back against the seat of your car. Pay attention to those sensations. Think about what you are doing in this very moment and pay attention to the things all around you.”
Which has basically become my OUT when they happen. It works every single time, no matter what I’m doing. I don’t know if it’s because I’m subconsciously thinking about my Mom, or if it’s a bit of both – but either way, try calling your Mom the next time it happens to you. They really do know everything.
And because life isn’t all butterflies and rainbows, I’ll be honest and say even as a fully-functioning Wife, Business owner, Entrepreneur and photographer, I still deal with anxiety attacks. It’s a strange feeling not having total control of your mind. Even when you know it’s “just the anxiety”, there’s nothing you can do when it strikes to completely get out of that mind space right then and there. My Aunt recently gave me another great tip just a couple of days ago because she, too goes through it. She said when they’re really bad and consume or affect your day, to take on the day 15 minutes at a time and that really seems to help me out. You guys… you can and WILL get through a total week of hell – and each day you go to bed at night, you’ll be proud of the little things that you accomplish on paralyzing and agonizing days. It’s important. Give yourself credit, take the day 15 minutes at a time and you will get through it. I promise.
Affirmations have been something that I always seem to reach for when they strike, as well. They seem to be my last resort but always incredibly effective. Every time I use an affirmation, whether it’s to get me out of a funk, to get me through an anxiety attack, to boost my confidence, etc… I always wonder why I make affirmations my last resort. Here’s to making them my first! When the situation arises – I pause – take a slow and calm (and big) deep breath and speak these affirmations out loud…even if you don’t fully believe them, say them out loud. The more you tell yourself these things the more you will believe them and great things will start happening to you.
And finally, why you’re here – here are 15 affirmations to tell yourself when anxiety hits:
1) If it is not in your control, let it go and let it be what it is.
2) I am only Human. I am only one person.
3) I am calm, I am here and I am great.
4) I am safe, I am healthy, I am loved.
5) I am enough.
6) I am more capable than I think I am.
7) Every breath I inhale calms me and every breath I exhale takes away tension.
8) This is only temporary.
9) This too shall pass.
10) I am strong and get through this. It will only make me a stronger person.
11) I am exactly where I am right now because that’s where I need to be.
12) I can overcome my fear and live life courageously.
13) I am NOT my anxiety.
14) Nothing is wrong with me. I have anxiety, and that’s okay.
15) It is just one moment in my life and it will be over tomorrow.
I truly hope that you can find these useful and helpful! It seems like such a silly thing to do if you’ve never used affirmations before, but I promise that the more you remind yourself of these affirmations, the closer you will connect to them and the more you will use them and start to believe them! If these don’t align with you – create your own! It’s as simple as thinking of calming words (we all have our own) that help you and starting with that. There’s also a gazillion online on the internet – use those! I mean if they work, they work!
What other suggestions do you have for us, anxiety-ridden people? If you use affirmations – what are some of your favorites? What other methods are you using for anxiety attacks? Sharing is caring, friends. Can’t wait to hear from you!