Friday, 19 March 2021

Simple yet very effective ways to help calm stress, anxiety and panic attacks

Photo by Umberto Shaw from Pexels

Even the most laidback, confident and fearless amongst us fall from time to time to the hands of anxiety and stress. For some, however, it’s a heart-wrenching daily battle.

As VavaViolet’s writer Jessica Murray will explain from the next paragraph, we are all human and we all have these emotions. Therefore we can also all learn to combat them.

"But you’re so confident, nothing phases you", the words I hear so often but frustrate me to my core. 

If you only knew the struggle it took sometimes for me to even get out of bed let alone step out of my front door then you’d probably call me a liar... 

Most people on the face of it think I am the least anxious person in the world - the loud bubbly one who isn’t afraid to laugh at herself, who can get up at karaoke and give us a tune, pulls out all of the cheesy one-liners and will fiercely stand up for any kind of injustice but deep down it is a front to hide how I truly feel sometimes. 

Now I am not saying I am in a permanent state of anxiousness or stress however after years of wondering why my brain reacts in certain situations I chose to reach out to my local mental health service. 

Following an assessment, I was recently diagnosed with anxiety. This was done through some tests and questionnaires and on the most recent assessment, it was established that my anxiety was mild.  

I recommend you go along for one. Once you establish the issue, you can work on addressing it.

Behind the "big show" is a history of panic attacks, insomnia and stressful outbursts that can lead to everything feeling super overwhelming. 

Top that with a chronic illness where you live in constant fear of whether or not you will be able to make it to the toilet it can cause simple things to escalate into a downward spiral pretty quickly. 

Not everything helps everyone but there are a few techniques that I, and others, use regularly that I have tried that may work for you - so I am passing on my wisdom to you should you need it...

Some people will feel completely stupid talking to themselves but I find sometimes the only pep talk you’re going to listen to is the one you tell yourself.

Every morning without fail (no matter how bad it is) I tell myself - "Today is going to be a good day" and at the end of the day before I go to bed I will say one of three things: 

1) Today was a good day, let’s hope for the same tomorrow 

2) Today was ok but let’s hope for a better day tomorrow or 

3) Let’s close our eyes forget today and focus on tomorrow. It's done with, I'll remind myself. 

Some people find saying this in front of the mirror helpful whereas I just sat it to myself. 

This is a very popular method and a grounding technique when you’re feeling anxious. 

It can help you to be more aware of your surroundings and more present in the moment. 

To achieve it, it requires you to be in your space and find five things you can see, four things you can feel (physically), three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. 

Usually, the method states to say these things out loud, but if my anxiety hits in public or in a situation where I don’t feel I can - I either write them in the notes pages in my phone, text them to myself or use a good old fashioned pen and paper.




Something we used to do to get creative when I was studying drama at school was a stream of consciousness - blocking out the world with some music and solidly writing how I was feeling for five minutes. 

It doesn’t even have to make sense but getting it out often helps to declutter - there is often things or situations you didn’t even realise you were bothered about that come out. 

I have found that using instrumental music works the best for me as I have to really focus on what I’m thinking as opposed to the lyrics of the song but any music works!

"In through your nose and out through your mouth," it may sound silly but when I’m in the flair of anxiety even the simplest things can seem like the most impossible to do. 

I now try to take at least five mins out of my day to just breathe in slowly and deeply from my core, and breathe out slowly. 

There are several YouTube tutorials of this and for me, it also works as brilliant pain relief when I am flaring up with my chronic illness.

Do a little bit of what makes you happy every single day or try something new! 

Doing what you love gives you the opportunity to reposition your focus and take a step back from what is going on. 

This really helps to clear your head. 

Also, if you want to start getting stuff done, start by setting a small daily goal of what you want to achieve. It is extremely motivating and will be long-lasting if you start small and work your way up.

Written by VavaViolet's writer, Jessica Murray

Photo by Umberto Shaw from Pexels 


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