Begin With Restoring Your Nervous System:
Often times when we’re so stressed that we’re having panic or anxiety attacks, it’s a sign something is out of whack with our autonomic nervous system. Our sympathetic nervous is in charge of our body’s fight or flight response, and sometimes we get so stressed out and so scared by what’s going on in our lives that it doesn’t give space to it’s counterpart the parasympathetic nervous system- to come in and bring the body back to a place of resting. (This is a VERY over-generalized version of this, but I just wanted you to get the basic idea).
So how do we bring our PNS (parasympathetic nervous system) back on board? Well in order to do this we have to slow the heart down- essentially, bringing the body into a physical place of calm so that our brain registers the “new” state we’re in and can send the correct enforcers of those systems.
I’m going to be honest, when you’ve been living in fight or flight a lot of the activities to bring the body to rest may not sound appealing, but once you do them and live them and try them out- it really does make a big difference.
Restorative Yoga is one of the most excellent ways you can bring the body into a parasympathetic nervous system response. This kind of yoga essentially means you get to lay down in a variety of supported positions, and do nothing! It’s TRANSFORMATIONAL. One of my dear colleagues who’s an excellent yoga teacher, Carin Baginski, wrote an amazing book called Restorative Yoga that completely guides you into the practice and gives you examples of all the different poses and expert guidance.
There are other tools you can get to help with relaxation that could be helpful for the restorative yoga, or for simply finding a comfortable rest position to hold still and breathe for 10-15 minutes (this will GREATLY help). These tools include an eye pillow (here’s a favorite scented one from Amazon), or a bolster for under your knees or spine- personally I like the pranayama pillow sized bolsters as they’re a bit smaller and very versatile.
Have you ever heard of “earthing”? Earthing and grounding go together as a way to calm the body and relax. This could look like reconnecting with the Earth- walking in the dirt, sitting on a park bench with your feet against the ground (best barefoot), or even sitting near the water.
I also find that gentle yoga is helpful for grounding as it’s typically slower paced and done barefoot- and surely could also be done outside but inside works too.
Another GREAT tool for getting grounded is: a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets can be a bit on the pricey side, especially if the weight is evenly distributed (you want this), but man do they instantly ground you and start to restore your nervous system. Some people like sleeping with them, but I tend to like mine when I’m snuggled up on the couch. Weighted blankets work by simulated deep pressure tough- kind of like a giant hug- and it significantly can reduce stress and anxiety.
Finally- an excellent tool you can easily implement right away is called Natural Vitality Calm. It’s a drinkable magnesium supplement- you just add to water. They have a wide variety of flavors though they’re very subtle in taste- my favorite is the lemon raspberry. My primary care physician recommended this as an natural option for managing the anxiety and it genuinely started working that same week.
Until I experience panic attacks myself I had no idea how magnesium supports coping with stress and anxiety- and in fact having magnesium deficiencies has been linked with more anxiety and depression.
Also- being a huge water person, I pretty much started taking baths several times a week and soaking in Epsom Salts which are another great source of magnesium and sulfate. In fact, Dave and I had to start ordering this 19lb bag of Epsoak Epsom Salts from amazon which lasts us about a month. (We take A LOT of baths!)