Without the hustle and bustle of an everyday routine of “work, ” it can become draining and confusing to figure out what purpose means. Because we’re used to linking who we are to what we “do” we often forget that we aren’t what we do, we simply…are. We exist and that, in itself, is purpose.
Awareness of the present “self” is appreciating all that “we are” in the absence of work. Who are we when we are not working or performing tasks? How can we bask in the simplicity of being?
Note: Focusing our attention on “doing” dictates our actions and goals to define success as accomplishments achieved only by something we can perform through our behaviors and actions. Therefore, when we are not actively “doing” much of anything we lose our sense of self and purpose. Shifting our focus to “being” allows us to appreciate existing when we are not/cannot “do” anything.
Acknowledging that we have worth and value, not because of “what” we do but because of “who” we are (already) helps us to understand our fundamental “being.”
Affirmation Challenge: When waking up every morning, begin by affirming and manifesting the words, “I am.” By understanding that “doing” doesn’t define purpose, we can view our expectations of ourselves with gentleness, approaching each day with gratitude and grace. Existing and living how best we can outweigh the constant assumption of having to do more to fill our sense of self.
Reminder: It’s okay if some days are difficult to even get out of bed. Those days are our “being” days. It’s okay to focus on being.
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.”
While we often believe we can accomplish everything on our own, help is often necessary to get where we want to go. Whether we get help for personal or professional reasons, the help will allow us the resources and knowledge to push past our obstacles!
Asking for help is one of the most fundamental ways to get ahead, but due to the type of help sometimes it’s difficult to reach out and get the assistance we need.
Here are some helpful tips to consider when asking for help:
Research the help you need based on what you think is best for you.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Receiving the right help for you can take multiple attempts.
Keep trying even if you don’t get the help you need at first.
Not everyone you ask for help will help you. Do not get discouraged.
Help can be given in different ways. Be open-minded.
Just because someone can’t help you doesn’t mean they can’t be a resource, ask if they know anyone who can.
Do you ever get stuck when trying to help someone with depression? Do you find that some things you say may hurt the person who is struggling with their mental health? What are phrases to avoid when communicating with someone with depression? What are some helpful gestures and phrases?
Visit my Defying Shadows article to see some tips and helpful insight when it comes to helping someone who struggles with depression!