Managing Anxiety & Preventing Panic Attacks

My top tips on how to manage social anxiety and panic attacks in public

Before I begin, a little disclaimer. I am not a doctor and the advice below is what has worked for me, it may not work for you. I have left some useful links below, now let’s get into it. How do we manage our stressful situations a little better?

1.  Comfortable Clothing

It may seem basic but it is so important lessen additional stress when entering a situation you already find stressful. Wearing shoes that cut your feet or an itchy jumper, won’t help you feel at ease.

Opt for soft, breathable materials than can be layered, that way you can easily remove a layer and tuck it in your bag if you get too warm or have a scarf that you can add to feel cosy. Wear what makes you feel confident but not self conscious.

shed-layers-like-this-cat-sheds-hairs

2 . Know Your Route

Plan your journey ahead of time. Take note of where your bus stop, parking lot, airport gates and terminals are. Download timetables and give yourself plenty of time to arrive so you’re not in a rush. If you’re going to an unfamiliar place, take screenshots of your route on Google Maps, that way even if your internet coverage isn’t great you can still see the direct route.

screenshot-your-route

3.  Re-fuel

Keep hydrated and eat regularly. You’re not going to feel your best without proper nutrition. Keep a bottle of water in your bag and snacks for on the go, fruit or a granola bar, something that is fuss free. Grab a smoothie at a juice bar instead of the coffee, the less jittery the better, right? Re-fueling should be your priority, you can’t run on empty. If you are stressed, your body is working overtime. Keep your blood sugar level steady!

your-body-needs-nutrients

4.  Prioritize Tasks

Putting unnecessary pressure on yourself finish a long to-do list or to perform exactly like everyone else is not good. Sometimes when I feel anxious I think “If everyone else can go shopping without anxiety, answer a call, or give a presentation, then I should be able to.” It is not helpful to compare yourself to other people. Everyone has a different challenge.

Instead of creating big goals, create small ones. What is the single, most important task you need to get done today? Break everything down into smaller task. (For example, that big project you have coming up – what’s the first thing you need to do in it?) Every little accomplishment is important.

progress-is-progress-no-matter-how-small

5.  Plan B

A safe place. It’s okay to need time alone or time out to gather your thoughts. If you feel panicked, go to a safe place, this may be a physical or psychological place. For some people it may be putting on headphones and listening to music, for others a toilet cubicle, a quiet park, a bench, your car or even talking to someone you trust on the phone. Hearing familiar voices when you’re around strangers can be really reassuring and a relief.

Sometimes after having a few moments to yourself, you’ll find you can go back out there and continue with your day. It’s okay to need a breather!

 6.  Apps and Books

Having a phone constantly in your hands or pocket, can be a blessing and a curse. We need to get away from our phones to make progress and step outside our comfort zones. However, meditation apps like Headspace can really help guide your thoughts if you have trouble being clearing a foggy mind. And no, this doesn’t mean getting out a yoga mat and burning incense in the middle of the street. You can listen to nature sounds while walking and practice breathing techniques.

Having a full phone battery can help you feel a little more secure when you’re venturing away from home so you know you can call a loved one when you’re finding things difficult. Charging an external power source and bringing that with you is useful. In my experience not looking at my phone and being in the moment in social situations has really helped me be more mindful, sure it can be nerve wrecking – but rewarding too.

I highly recommend reading Cognitive Behavioural Therapy books available in most book stores and online that do a much better job at explaining the significance of directing our thoughts and habits towards a beneficial, mindful way of living.

 

 

Although I have only touched on a few simple ways to manage the stress around social anxiety, I hope you find it helpful. You may find the following links useful, find similar websites for your country.

Irish Council for Psychotherapy   http://www.psychotherapy-ireland.com/members/disciplines/cognitive-behavioural-therapy/

Mind and Body Works   http://www.mindandbodyworks.com/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-dublin

Kati Morton explains CBT   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7B3n9jobus

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy books  http://www.easons.com/search/go#w=cognitive%20behavioural%20therapy
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