How to Stop Freaking Out? Start By Breathing
Getting to know your triggers and early warning signs can help you avoid panic.
So, this past week I’m just moving along, minding my own business, getting work done and all of a sudden I start to freak out. It starts off small as just one thought about something I have to do. It hasn’t even happened yet. It’s not even going to happen for a few days. It requires a lot of preparation, expertise, information from others and then me delivering front and center.
Then, like a tidal wave, the panic and anxiety washes over me. It’s like someone just pulled the bar over top of me as I sit in the roller coaster. It’s making the climb to the top and I know it’s going to be a fast hair-raising descent.
I start breathing really shallow and much shorter breaths. I feel tense all over. My jaw clenches. My temples tighten. My ears feel a pounding inside. My face starts to tingle. I can even feel my adrenal glands start to throb on my lower back.
So I’m totally in fight or flight mode. You know, where your body thinks it needs to fight off that Saber Tooth Tiger. I know that if I stay in this state it’s going to be bad news. If I stay stuck in this mode of fight or flight I’m also opening up myself to some serious health issues.
So what’s a gal to do?
I know what it is but, man, is it hard to do when deep into this panicked state. I need to breathe. And I don’t mean the shallow panting I’m currently doing. I need deep belly breathing to calm down my system and turn off the cortisol and adrenaline pulsing through my body. I need to get oxygen to my brain so I can think.
But I’m so deep into my freak that’s not fast enough. I need an inversion and quick. So I lay on the floor and put my legs up the wall and breathe. Really deep slow breaths in and slow breaths out. I could bend over at the waist and let my arms hang and just swing but today I need an open belly to breathe.
That works super fast and I can feel my body calming down.
Now if I had been paying more attention during the day I might have noticed some of the physical sensations coming on before I panicked. The first one for me is usually the shallow breathing.
What are the signs you notice when you’re operating in fight or flight mode? What triggers those feelings? Get to know your triggers and your early warning signs so you can be aware and breathe when they start to creep into your day.