That lightheaded, room spinning feeling, combined with stomach turning nausea hitting all at once is when I know that my anxiety is hitting me hard.
Sometimes it won’t hit that bad, and other times it’s much worse. Anxiety shows up in slightly different ways each time – the core “symptoms” may be similar, but there’s always a different variation to it, based on the situation.
And my anxiety may not look the same as your anxiety.
But there are a few things that have really helped me to de-escalate my anxiety – maybe not exactly in the moment, but pretty soon after. Instead of being in a high state of anxiety all day, every day, with regular anxiety attacks, it’s become much easier to calm my senses down, to take stock of what is triggering and fueling the anxiety, and taking action from there.
To start, I do my best to remove myself from whatever the situation is that caused my anxiety, assuming that the anxiety is stemming from a specific situation. If it’s not being caused by a specific situation, then I ignore this part. But if it is situation specific, I do what I can to remove or limit myself from that situation.
That’s not always possible – if it’s a situation surrounding my kids, I can’t physically remove myself from that situation – but I can do some the work to mentally remove myself from the situation, in a way that I’m still helping my kiddos through whatever it is, but I’m able to do so from a place of mental safety.
Then, I’ll focus on getting some deep breaths in, and do my best to ground myself. I tend to notice that my breathing gets pretty shallow when anxiety hits, so once I become aware of the shallow breathing, I try to do a few rounds of box breathing – breathing in for four, hold for four, exhale for four, hold for four. This helps to make sure that I’m getting enough oxygen, and to start to calm my nervous system down.
If I’m home, I’m usually barefoot, so I’ll focus on how my feet feel on the floor or the ground, if I’m outside, give my mind and body that sense of grounding. If I’m at work and can’t take off my shoes, I do my best to feel the solidity of the ground underneath my feet.
Then, probably the easiest of all, I’ll put on some music. Whether it’s through headphones, in the car, on the radio at home, I’ll find music that resonates with me in that moment and blast it. The kiddos and I will have a dance party, I’ll sing along in the car, or sit silently at work listening and absorbing the energy.
There’s always something we can do to mitigate the anxiety when it comes at us.