The body and mind are conjoined. If one suffers, the other suffers.
However, you can use your mind to gain a lot of control over your body and interrupt that loop of fear.
Narrowing your focus down to yourself can help tremendously, and I do mean narrow it down!
Feel your heart beat. Take note of your breathing. Pay attention to the tension in your muscles.
Those three areas are paramount!
Perhaps the easiest way to bring a panic or anxiety attack under control is to bring slow, controlled breathing into action. Remember—take each breath slowly.
This will require an effort. You must exert control over your breathing, because once you’ve slipped into an anxiety attack, you won’t be able to abort it except by taking charge of your body’s responses.
Three slow deep breaths that go all the way to your toes! Hold for two seconds, and then slowly release. You should immediately feel a small increase in clarity of thought, and you need that.
How to relax those tense muscles? If at all possible, stand with your arms hanging to your sides, legs about a shoulder’s length apart.
When you’re beginning to learn physical de-stressing techniques, your mental imagery is useful.
Close your eyes and imagine you’re in your safe place. I find it helpful to begin with my shoulders and neck.
I carry a lot of my stress in my skeletal muscles and frame. Imagining I’m in a warm shower does wonders.
As your skeletal muscles relax, your diaphragm will also expand a bit *(the tension in the abdominal muscles tends to interfere with taking good deep, regular breaths)*
Finally, pay some attention to your heart beat. Knowing your heart’s physical tendencies is important.
Some of us have naturally slow heart rates; my own is a bit fast. It’s quite normal for everyone’s heart to pulse at a different rate.
Start being mindful of your heart when you’re at peace, at rest. What does your chest feel like? Does your heart have a “caged” or “compressed” feeling, or does it seem to be pumping away freely?
When it comes to our bodies, mindful awareness is critical, especially in stress provoking or anxiety filled situations.
A mindful awareness means just noting what is happening in your body, and trying not to let your thoughts run riot.
It’s okay to note, I feel my heart beating …. and then leave it at that. Try not to entertain the thoughts that like to taunt you “I’m going to die, my heart will stop” as this only keeps the panic going. You feed the panic with these thoughts.
Next time you feel yourself starting to panic, just describe it to yourself, note it, and start to calm your body down using your breath.