Anxiety is the body’s natural response to external stimuli. Whenever a person is ‘triggered’ by events which have happened in the past, chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters send signals to different brain structures that influence processes in your body.
One of the brain structures is called the amygdala and when this senses danger, the pre-frontal cortext, the part of the brain which deals with every day decisions, is switched off, leaving a sense of ‘not being able to think clearly’ and the body then prepares for the flight, fight or freeze response. Adrenaline is released into the bloodstream, causing feelings of panic, increased heartrate, shortness of breath, sweating and dizziness.
In order to reduce the adrenaline and cortisol flooding your body and return to a state of calm, it can be helpful to try some of the following grounding / self soothing techniques:
- Breathe – 7/11 breathing; inhale slowly for a count of 7 and exhale slowly for a count of 11. Do this for 10 times, concentrating on your breathing.
- If you can take off your shoes; feel the ground underneath your feet, notice whether it is cold, hot, damp, hard, soft, focus on how it feels.
- Music – put on some soothing music you like.
- Connect – talk to someone you trust about every day matters
- Pick up a crossword or suduko puzzle
- Mindfulness – the use of Mindfulness can be great for calming.
- Notice 5 things around you
- Hear 4 things around you
- Touch 3 things around you
- Smell 2 things around you
- Taste something
Some of the above grounding techniques can be stored within a safety box/bag so these are easily accessible whenever you feel the first symptoms of panic.