About an hour before writing this, I woke up in a sheer and utter panic. It’s been awhile since I’ve suffered from panic attacks at night, which I guess means that I was overdue for one. I don’t think that should ever be true, but last week was a rough one and it only makes sense that my anxiety levels would be sky high.
It’s been a little while since I wrote about something terribly personal on my blog. I’ve found that while I’m more than happy with my life, writing about it isn’t necessarily what brings me joy. Most of my days are the same; get up, go to work, come home, cook dinner, work on a blog post or relax. What brings me joy is helping others, whether it be encouraging someone to try a new trend, a bold lip color, or just sharing a new place to shop. Sure, I’m not changing the world, but in a world full of struggle and sadness, I like to write about the things that bring happiness.
Things were a little quiet around here last week. I often turn to writing for comfort, but honestly, last week I just couldn’t blog. After having some alarming digestive systems over the past couple of months, I had to go in for a diagnostic test that I was beyond terrified about. What the final results were was what I was most dreading. What if I had something seriously wrong? What if I had to take a step back from life as I knew it?
I’m so relieved to have found out that nothing is wrong with me, which while still frustrating, means that I can move forward and work on my stress levels. And then, of course, that same stress that you’ve been bottling up for a week straight knocks you in the gut 2:40 AM on a Sunday (time of writing this!) and you realize that not dealing with the emotions you’ve been internalizing is clearly not working out. Enter those pesky panic attacks at night.
5 Ways to Cope with Panic Attacks at Night
I know I’m not the only one who deals with panic attacks. I’m sure many of you do as well, and I’m sure some even more often than I do. I’ve discovered a wide array of things that help me on a day to day basis: exercise, eating well, sticking to a somewhat normal routine, self-care, and talking to someone when I’m feeling overwhelmed. But, when you find yourself in the middle of a full blown attack, these things really aren’t of much help. So what’s a girl to do? I have a few suggestions that help me, and I hope they can help you too.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV. I’m not providing medical advice; the following are suggestions I have personally used to manage my panic attacks and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). If your panic attacks are escalating and/or you are having thoughts of harming yourself, please call for help now.
Tell Yourself This is NOT the End
Is it weird that telling myself that I’m not dying is comforting? Maybe, maybe not, but since I have yet to drop dead from a panic attack odds are I won’t this time either. Telling myself that I will get through it, that I’m not dying, and that there are better times ahead really helps me at the onset of the attack.
If you’re someone that suffers other symptoms related to panic attacks like an upset stomach, tingling limbs, tight chest, or anything else mentioned on this ____ anxiety list, tell yourself that this too shall pass. Trust me, I’ve probably had every single symptom on that list at one point or another and I’m still here. You will get through it too girl, I promise.
Take Deep Breaths and Small Sips of Water
And now that you know that you are not in fact dying, take a big deep breath. And then another. And another. Good. Feeling a bit better?
I hope so. And if you aren’t, keep breathing mindfully, pour yourself a cool glass of water (I prefer mine to be slightly cooler than room temperature as to not upset my stomach further, but do whatever you like) and take small sips. I find that all the deep breathing sometimes can make my stomach a little rumbly so I find that small sips work best. There’s something about focusing on hydrating and breathing gets the mind off the situation at hand and will have you on your way to feeling better.
Distract Your Mind
Of course, sipping water and breathing can only get you so far. I’ve found that an activity that is mundane yet requires a decent amount of brain power can really help. I personally like organizing things or cleaning in this case. There’s something comforting to me about order, and the repetitive nature of cleaning feels soothing. For some this could be flipping through a magazine, light exercise, talking to a friend, playing with a pet, organizing your jewelry, trying a new makeup look, or maybe something from this list. Whatever it is, be sure to choose something that doesn’t add to your anxiety. (No scary movies or books that have many plot twists, please!)
Find Something Productive
As the panic begins to wane, I find that doing something productive (if you’re not too busy cleaning or organizing your entire house!) can be fulfilling. Case in point? This blog post. By the time I’m reaching the end of this post, I’m feeling much better about life, AND I have something to show for it that, fingers crossed, will help someone else too. For me, finding another therapeutic activity helps. For me, that means editing some photos, writing, and hugging my dog in between. ;)
Know That You’re Not Alone
Now that your stress levels are coming down, and the panic seems like just a memory, I hope you know that you’re not alone. There are so many of us out there that deal with anxiety disorders every single day. If you don’t have a real life network that understands, know that I do, and I’m more than happy to listen. (You can reach me by email, and I’ll respond promise.)
There are also some amazing places on the Internet to find others who understand too. The No More Panic Forum, Anxiety Zone Forum, and Reddit’s /r/anxiety have come up in countless frantic Google Searches over the years that have calmed my nerves. I’ve also been known to read this anxiety symptom list in times of panic to know that what I’m feeling is more than likely just anxiety.
Panic attacks at night are awful. Anxiety sucks. I wish I didn’t have it. But it’s also taught me to value my stress-free moments and to be grateful that I don’t have it worse. In the scheme of things, it can be controlled in a variety of ways (therapy, medication, life changes) and by learning coping mechanisms, can get you through the hard times. Keep breathing, it will all be okay soon.
P.S. If you found this post useful, I’d appreciate if you’d consider pinning the above image. (Just roll over it, then click the Pin button to save it!) The more we talk about Anxiety the less power it has over us. ♥
If you’re a fellow anxiety sufferer, do you have any advice for working through panic attacks? How have you learned to deal? I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice in the comments below!