It’s okay to be intentional with what you do. Continue to try even when you feel stuck, lost, or unmotivated.
When you find yourself slipping into negative thought patterns, fear, hesitation, procrastination, or overthinking, stop for a second and create a positive/helpful intention for yourself. Whether this be a simple affirmation: “I am safe,” or a plan of action: “I will drink some water and reach out to my friend today,” creating pockets of reassurance and abundance can help move you out of spaces of lack and stagnancy.
Light your own path as you continue to work through the challenges of every day. Build peace within yourself by taking advantage of every moment. You are in control. Be in control.
Busyness is how some of us distract ourselves from our thoughts and trauma. With so much to do, there is often no time to stop, reflect, and build a relationship with ourselves. In times of isolation, however, it’s more difficult to combat and dismiss the impulse of intrusive thoughts. This may even be the first time some are alone with their thoughts and can’t immediately turn to “doing” to deflect negative patterns of thinking.
What do we do when experiencing an overwhelming spiral of intrusive thoughts?
Acknowledge the thought. Ask yourself, Is this thought familiar?
Identify the feelings the thought brings up. How am I feeling? Why am I feeling this?
Turn to a productive perspective to address spiraling. Is this thought true or intrusive?
Reassure yourself that you are doing the best you can and practice self-compassion. What is triggering this thought and what can I do to help myself reframe/dismiss this thought.
Write down what you are thinking or feeling. How intense is what I’m experiencing?
Ask for help or talk to someone you trust to get a different perspective.
Building a sense of self-awareness takes time and patience. There may even be parts of ourselves we may encounter for the first time and that’s okay. We are all multifaceted. Building a relationship with who we are is important.
This may be the first time we find ourselves actually reflecting, but that doesn’t mean we can’t grow and learn to love all parts of ourselves.
I started blogging in 2015 following a class project in my senior year of college. Unaware of the impact writing will have on my mental health, I maintained a steady habit. When I felt anxious, depressed or even inspired and ready to take over the world, I wrote something. No matter the circumstance or situation, I continued to write. I called this new ignited excitement for writing SparklyWarTanks, a phrase that combines the ideas of being “pretty and ”together” with also being at ”war” and ”struggling.”
SparklyWarTanks became an extension of me, who I wanted to become and the perspective I wished to build. My everyday writing changed and transformed into therapy writing; writing about pain, acceptance, identity, and struggle. I wrote to feel free, to challenge myself, and to improve my mental wellness. Writing gave me strength, peace, and my own voice.
Finding My Voice: Asking Important Questions
As SparklyWarTanks progressed during the first year, themes and patterns emerged in my writing style. I began to write mental health articles along with my motivational and creative content. Eager to build a more stable and workable sense of self, I felt refreshed when my imagination flooded with ideas.
To keep the content flowing, I often asked myself important questions. Whether these questions were related to me directly, or for my target audience to grapple with (mostly young adults, especially women, figuring themselves out), my goal was to challenge notions of self-development and self-acceptance. I wanted to construct a progressive view of growth.
Some of the questions were, but not limited to:
How do I feel?
How do I want/deserve to feel?
Who am I?
Who am I becoming?
What do I want to achieve?
Through writing, I began to create and mold myself while also advocating for a communal and collective sense of awareness for my readers. As a community, what do we need to do to improve how we see ourselves? I wanted to help others while also helping myself. I wanted my growth to help others grow as well.
Continuing in the present…
Writing and Creative Expression: Creativity and Mental Health
Progressing in my writing craft and finding who I want to be through my projects and perspective is nothing short of soul-satisfying. Writing and creative expression not only helps me build a new perspective on growth, vulnerability, and self-awareness but also helps me manage my depressive and anxious symptoms as well. The more I write and ask myself important questions, the more I’m able to identify my t riggers and heal through them.
Different genres and approaches I experiment with in my writing include:
Topics such as self-talk, self-care, self-love, self-worth, power, reflection and potential guide my views and shift how I think, especially during the tough days. I write to think through what I believe; I write to build and create my truth. Mental
health and self-development now connect with one another. How I want to feel includes taking care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Are you thinking of starting a writing habit?
Next Steps: You Can Write Too
Writing can be for all of us. Whether for fun, to vent, or to get your thoughts onto something and out of your head, writing can help! Writing can be whatever you make of it. If it’s to share or to keep to yourself, whatever you create is something to be proud of.
Experiencing a panic attack is exhausting, draining and can take days to recover from. While we sometimes do our best to prevent an escalation into a panic attack, they still can happen. How do we feel like ourselves again following a panic attack? What are some positive coping techniques we can use to improve our self-care?
Resting and Relaxing
Resting and relaxing helps rejuvenate lost energy after experiencing a panic attack. Taking time to recuperate allows us to clear our minds and take the necessary steps to recover.
Resting may look like:
Taking it easy.
Asking for help with chores or errands.
Taking a break from demanding responsibilities.
Prioritizing time alone or with trusted family and friends.
Giving ourselves permission to slow down assists our recovery process and opens our perspective to the best methods of self-care.
Mindfulness is the skill and habit of focusing awareness on the present moment. The better we become at cultivating nonjudgmental awareness of our thoughts, feelings, environment, and experiences from moment to moment, the more we can learn about ourselves and our stressors. Mindfulness teaches us to notice, accept, and let go rather than dwell and latch onto past thoughts or future worries.
Mindful Daily Activities
Along with resting and relaxing, it’s also beneficial to practice mindfulness while doing everyday activities like eating, drinking, walking, etc. Becoming mindful while engaging in daily activities enables us to clear our minds only to focus on how we are interacting with our environments and ourselves during each moment.
Tip: To eliminate worry, center the senses in current activities rather than what can happen in the future or what happened in the past. Ask yourself what is happening in the here and now.
Mindful Meditation/Controlled Breathing: Sitting in quiet spaces practicing mindful meditation and controlled breathing are also useful coping mechanisms to calm the mind and body. Creating a rhythm of breaths, inhaling and exhaling for the count of five for example, while also clearing our minds of worry helps in recentering focus and control.
Reminder: Mindfulness reinforces our ability to gain control and restore our inner wellbeing.
Reminders and Positive Self-Talk
Accompanying mindfulness is reminders and positive self-talk to further empower our inner sense of security. Reminding ourselves that we are safe and in control helps us move past our fears and into a calmer state of mind.
Some self-soothing affirmations to try include:
I am safe.
I am in control.
I can ask for help if I need to.
I release my fears and worries.
I am powerful and in control of my decisions.
Note: Positive self-talk increases confidence and supports inner strength despite discouraging feelings of doubt and fear.
Our triggers can hinder us from wanting to do the activities we love or want to try. Like mindfulness and positive self-talk, building self-awareness helps us learn more about ourselves and what overwhelms us. One way we can gain self-awareness is by asking important questions.
These questions can be:
What caused this panic attack?
What can I do to prevent possible future spirals and escalations?
What are my next steps?
How am I feeling right now?
Who can I go to for help?
What tools and resources are available to me?
Recognizing and identifying our limits as well as creating boundaries can help us take better care of our mental health. Understanding who we are and what triggers us is a necessary step to preventing future escalations of overwhelm.
Tip: Journaling/Writing can be a helpful tool when attempting to reflect and process what happens after experiencing a panic attack.
Once we’ve gained some energy and given ourselves time to rest and reflect, we can communicate with others we trust about our experience. This step can be taken during or after our reflection time as processing can look different for everyone.
Reminder: Remember to be gentle communicating experiences with others. Panic attacks do not make anyone a failure or stop any of us from enjoying life or taking risks.
Utilizing creativity is not only engaging but can help in the reflection process following a panic attack. We can supplement how we communicate our experience with creative expression.
Asking important questions about an experience can be difficult but using creative prompts in poetry or art can catalyst that process.
Expressing ourselves creatively can be in the form of:
With creative prompts like:
If you can describe, craft, or create a physical description of the anxiety or feelings following a panic, what would it look like? Would it be a person, place, or thing? Does it have weaknesses and strengths? What is it’s vulnerable points?
Write a letter to the anxiety that leads you to feel overwhelmed. What would you say to it?
Imagine a tree with its roots. Imagine the tree is you. List everything that makes you strong and firm and put them at the roots of the tree. Now, list all of your accomplishments, talents, things that help you keep going and name them on the branches of the tree. As a reminder of all that you are and motivation to move forward, create your tree of life.
Along with using creativity to help process our experiences, we can also use creativity to distract and calm ourselves too. Learning a new craft is both rewarding and fun!
A new craft to try can be:
Designing and making stickers.
Now that we’ve learned some tools to bounce back from a panic attack, what techniques are most helpful for you? Self-care is different for all of us so what helps some might not help others and that’s okay! What’s important is feeling better.
Never forget that we are still capable, strong and worthy of whatever we set our minds to despite experiencing moments of panic.
“Growth and healing are a continuous process. While we may want our recovery journey to look linear, always progressing and improving, that is not what reality teaches us. Recovery, even when we see ourselves in great shape for long periods of time, sometimes come with low moments. Learning how to accept sudden stumbling blocks can be discouraging, but those moments are what builds and crafts what recovery really looks like.”
What are tactics you can use in pulling yourself from a panic attack? If you feel overwhelmed how can you gain control of your intrusive thoughts? What are ways you can manage and understand how to avoid triggers that can potentially lead to a panic attack?
Check out my Defying Shadows article in learning methods to help you through panic attacks.