I had my first panic attack my freshman year of high school. Even though it was about 15 years ago, I remember it as clear as day.
I was at dinner with my basketball team, when all of a sudden, I could barely breath. It felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. I felt dizzy and I honestly thought I was dying.
Over the last 15 years, I’ve learned that the best tool you can use to equip yourself in these circumstances, is to know how to properly manage stress + anxiety. Here are my top 5 tips!
1. Take Care of Your Body From the Inside, Out
We’re getting back to the basics on this one! I’m all about balance but sometimes I have to check myself on this one!
Keep yourself properly hydrated with water. Food = fuel. Make sure you’re eating all the leafy greens, healthy fats, carbs and protein!
On the other hand, it’s also important to remember that balance is key! Delicious dessert or a savory dish can also be nourishing.
I also tend to avoid caffeine because it leaves me with jitters + anxious feelings. Listen to your body, because you know yourself best!
2. Get Outside
Step away from your iPhone, TV screen and laptop and spend some time in the great outdoors! Lower your cortisol levels by taking a walk through your neighborhood and even ditch your phone + headphones while you’re at it!
Take in the sights, sounds and a healthy dose of vitamin D! When’s the last time you really noticed the birds singing or took in the beauty of nature?
Not in the mood for relaxing stroll? Run, swim, hike or bike…the sky’s the limit!
3. Meditate Daily
Meditation has been a game-changer for me! Never tried it? Maybe it’s time!
Daily meditation can reduce stress, increase calmness and promote happiness. Simply sit or lie in a comfortable position, close your eyes, focus on your breath and observe your thoughts without judgement.
It will honestly take some practice to get comfortable (you may only be able to meditate for a minute or two at first). If you’re a newbie, I highly suggest using a guided app like Calm!
4. Practice Self-Care
Self-care looks different for everyone! It may mean treating yourself to a massage, going on a long walk or soaking in an epsom salt bath with a fancy face mask.
I also define self-care as the ability to identify and adjust negative situations. Not satisfied with your job? Look for a new position that will bring you joy! Have negative friends who are bringing you down?
Surround yourself with a positive tribe! Really take the time to get to know yourself better and pinpoint what changes you can make to improve your quality of live! It’s okay to be selfish in this area!
5. Stay in Control
The key to avoiding an anxiety or panic attack is to learn the warning signs and have a plan of action. I’m sure many of you know the terrifying symptoms…chest pain, rapid heart beat, dizziness and that overwhelming feeling of doom.
In high school when I first started getting these attacks, they scared me to death. I was constantly in fear of having another attack, which would make my anxiety even worse.
Now, I understand that the key is to remain calm. I’ll excuse myself and go somewhere quiet (if possible), take a couple of deep breaths, try to relax my muscles and think positively.
I also love this mindfulness trick: “Focus on five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.”
If you’re someone who deals with this as well, I’d love to hear what strategies you use to keep your anxiety at bay! I’m always looking to try something new.