If you are struggling with feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, you are not alone. I have had my fair share of panic attacks and immobilizing stress and it’s not fun. Stress is a problem that practically everyone feels at one point in their life, and some more regularly and more intense than others. When your body is under stress you go through a physiological change, your adrenal glands produce stress hormones such as adrenaline, norepinephrine or cortisol to trigger your fight, flight or freeze response. As your stress hormones start flowing freely, your muscles tighten, your breathing rate increases, blood pressure rises and you feel “butterflies” in your stomach. This response is helpful if you need to slam the brakes or duck when you see a softball coming straight at you, but not so helpful when you just have a bunch of reports due at work. So let’s get you through this stressful moment or day with a few quick tips. These tips can also assist you through a panic attack.
First, I need you to promise to be kind to yourself. Your body and mind are trying to take in a lot of information, the world demands so much from you and your body is doing what it knows to do best for the situation. Be patient as your mind and body realize that the current stress reaction is not appropriate for the current situation. It’s your job now to help remind your mind and body that everything is okay. Here’s how:
Quick Tips to De-stress
- Breath Deep
Help your mind and body slow down by slowing your breath which will reduce the amount of stress hormones being released throughout your body
- Write it Down
Research has shown that the act of writing down your thoughts, feelings or even a checklist allows you to process the stress and improve your problem-solving skills
Did you know, when you smile, your brain releases small molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress?
- Get Moving
Take a walk or go into a separate room to grab a snack, sometimes a simple change of scenery can help you move away from the stressor
- Repeat a Mantra or Prayer
Your words are powerful and proven to impact your stress levels when used positively
If you are particularly struggling with a panic attack, the most important tip is to stay present. In a seated position do the following: look down at your feet and plant them flat on the floor, really sense the ground beneath your feet and wiggle your toes. Then send that awareness slowly up the body, looking at and squeezing your muscles one group at a time from you calves to your knees to your thighs. Make sure to sit up straight with your palms flat on your thighs, then look at your hands and wiggle your fingers. If you have jewelry touch it and play with it. Identify that you are safe and grounded. In this exact moment, you are okay. Repeat the exercise with deep, slow breaths as many times as you need.
Research shows that chronic stress can have lasting negative impacts on your health. So make sure to take the time to identify your stress triggers, seek professional guidance, get a good night’s rest, exercise and eat a balanced diet. Remember: You got this!
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to chose one thought over another”
– William James