It was February 2019 that I had a life changing panic attack. There were extenuating medical circumstances too- I had had way too much caffeine that day, not nearly enough water, was running on adrenaline from big life changes, and had just spent 20 minutes in a hot tub- all of that lead me to a situation where paramedics had to carry me outside of a local swimming pool because I simply- couldn’t move.

I think that situation kind of blew out my nervous system. After that I was terrified of being in public places for fear that I’d have ‘another episode’ and I lost complete faith in my body to simply carry me through life. I would feel anxiety all of the time- and I was terrified that I would never conquer this.

I felt isolated, incredibly scared, and limited.

This experience in my life eventually lead me to create A Bit From Within- so that other people going through similar circumstances would not feel alone, and know that they too could overcome it.

List of real tools that help with coping with panic attacks.

What Helped?

There was not one single thing that helped. Not one thing someone could say, or one single yoga class or meditation I could take that helped me. Rather it was a combination of things that really did make a huge difference in my life.

I’ll tell you that it takes time. We live in a society where time feels bad and wrong. We’re so used to getting immediate results or instant gratification, and I want to gently remind you that this is a process. That being said, I DO think there are tools you can start using to find relief right away. It may not be the cure- but hopefully it helps.

So where do we begin?

By Restoring my Nervous System

Then Reducing Stress / Letting Go / Slowing Down

Throughout the post I’ll share the links to some practical tools that really made a difference for me. And just to be transparent, these are affiliate links so every time they’re purchased from the link I get a small commission, and at no cost at all to you. If you find any of them useful, we’re so grateful for your support of our small business.

List of real tools that help with coping with panic attacks.

What Helped?

There was not one single thing that helped. Not one thing someone could say, or one single yoga class or meditation I could take that helped me. Rather it was a combination of things that really did make a huge difference in my life. Here are 2 categories that I’ll share about today:

Restoring my Nervous System

Reducing Stress / Letting Go / Slowing Down

Throughout the post I’ll share the links to some practical tools that really made a difference for me. And just to be transparent, these are affiliate links so every time they’re purchased from the link I get a small commission, and at no cost at all to you. If you find any of them useful, we’re so grateful for your support of our small business.

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.

Get Grounded:

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.

Magnesium:

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!)

Take Aways and Reminders:

While you’re experiencing panic attacks it is so very isolating. It’s so hard to explain to other people what you’re going through, and to not have good answers or feel like it’s even a discussable subject. For me, even discussing my anxiety made me feel like I was on the verge of a “freak out”, and it made it even more uncomfortable.

Besides the tools I mentioned above, I also think it’s helpful to create a note on your phone or somewhere you can pull up with helpful quotes or data you can rely on. For me I took a few helpful explanations from Windy Dryden’s “Break Out From The Vicious Circle of Anxiety” to remind myself of what was happening when it started to happen. This look like:

  • Take slow shallow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Anxiety is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and crappy but not dangerous or the end of the world. Anxiety is “Challenging but not overwhelming.” Overcoming anxiety means tolerating discomfort- so it’s important to face it and not shy away from this uncomfortable feeling.
  • Even if I panic, then I panic. That’s uncomfortable, but it will go as easily as it came.
  • Remember, even if you panic, you are a worthy person. You are strong. You are brave. You are enough- even when you feel none of these things and act as a fallible human being.

I genuinely hope you find this post helpful, and would love to connect with you on the subject. Feel free to listen to the below episode of my A Bit From Within podcast where I discuss my anxiety story more in depth. Also, check out the abundant number of resources I have on my site for gentle yoga and guided meditations that might serve you.

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