If you follow this blog, you know that anxiety disorder has a high comorbidity rate with bipolar disorder. That means we live with both disorders at the same time. I have listed below some techniques I have used to get me through my moments of panic. Take a look and steal what you think will work for you.
This is one of my favorite ways to self-soothe. Imagine your favorite place doing your favorite thing. Focus on your environment. Focus on what you are doing or not doing. For example, when I use this technique, I imagine I am at Mozart’s Coffee Shop in Austin, Texas. This place has an outdoor wooden multi-level deck with a giant tree coming out of it. I imagine I am on the lower level having a delicious latte and bagel. In my head I am watching the turtles in the lake bob their heads above and below the water’s surface. To me, that is relaxing. I am sure you can think of your own place, or even imagine a place you would like to be.
This is a new one for me and I have heard variations of how we can do this practice to settle our anxiety. The one I especially like is super easy. When you are anxious or on the verge of a panic attack, we need to count things starting with five. We pick something, let’s say shiny things and have to look around the room and find five shiny things. Next, we have to find four things. This time, blue objects. And, you got it, the next round is three things, let’s make them round. We do this without much thought as to what we need to find, but it is about looking and finding the objects. By the time we finish this exercise we should feel much more in control of our anxiety.
Mantras, which I really refer to as ‘taking to myself,’ can be a very powerful tool to get us through some anxiety ridden times. A mantra is defined as a repeated word or phrase. It could be as simple as “It’s okay,” or “I will be alright,” or “It is just my anxiety. It will pass.” I repeat the phrase under my breath and for me it is usually, “It’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay.” I say this until my heart slows down.
USING YOUR SENSES
This can also be considered a grounding technique, but for a long time this worked for me. Create a emergency kit for panicky moments. In it there should be something for each of your senses. For example, my kit was in a tiny pencil bag. I had a mint to taste. A smooth rock to feel. Some temple balm from a spa I had visited for smell. A photo to see. And an iPod to listen to. (Yeah, this was my old kit). It is so easy to create one of these emergency kits. Everything can be small and kept in a tiny compartment and we can now use our phones for music.
I am a music person. I would rather listen to music than watch television. One of the best things I did a few months ago was create a ‘grocery shopping’ music playlist on Spotify and transferred it to my phone. You see, I hate grocery shopping, There are very few that can cause my anxiety to rise as fast as a trip to the grocery store. Originally a lot of the songs were on a Spotify playlist called ‘walk like a badass.’ I used some of those and added more badass songs so now I strut around the grocery store picking out my canned soup.
There are a lot of ways to navigate our anxiety and I am sure your therapist or counselor can inform you of more. Hopefully the above help you at some point.