That familiar feeling...
Hot, sweaty and in a state…
Hands up who's been there? That feeling of panic, rising from your belly, you forget to breathe, your hands are sweaty, your mind feels void, you can't get your thoughts straight, your heart is racing…I hear you!
This is an everyday occurrence for me, and it's not just one thing that brings it on either. If only it were that simple! I might receive a text message I wasn't expecting, or have far too many emails in my inbox, it might be an ‘unknown number’ calling me on my mobile, it might be the thought of having to go to Sainsburys with my 5 year old…
So how do I do what I do? How do I move forward? What is it that helps?
I want to introduce you to my ‘Invisible Bumbag’! (Yep I spend far too much time with a 5 year old but bear with me…) It's sparkly, it's pink, hell it's covered in glitter, but it's not the outside that counts, it's what I keep inside that invisible bumbag that matters, and also that I remember that I have it on!
So what's inside my bumbag? Tools and techniques, simple stuff that I practice when I am not feeling like that hot, sticky mess, so that when that familiar feeling starts to creep up my belly I know what to do. Here are my Top 5 -
- IT IS NOT TRUE Yep, you heard it right, your thoughts are not necessarily true...crazy but true. Most of the time our thoughts about and around something are simply not true, they are just thoughts. Thoughts about what's behind something, thoughts about what other people think, thoughts about what people think of us, imagined, but not necessarily true. So my number one ‘GO TO’ technique is to PAUSE and ask myself (yeah I talk to myself...just me then?) ‘IS THAT TRUE?’
- BREATHING - In my opinion this is the most underrated tool and technique that any person in the world can do, and it is FREE! Right now, as you are reading this, are you holding your breath? Are your breaths long or short? Can you feel the air in your tummy? Are your ribs expanding filling your lungs with oxygen? Nope...mine neither! Practice breathing, I know hilarious isn't it! An essential function of our body, for things to work, including our brains is getting oxygen inside..and we can all benefit from practicing and doing more of this. Click here for a free download of a breathing technique that we use that is super simple
- TALK TO SOMEONE - Yep again a pretty obvious one, but something we all find hard to do. Particularly if we are asking for some help. So this a great one to remember and to practice. Talk to a friend or your partner about something that you are finding hard, that's not helping, that you would like help with, come up with some strategies that might help together. I promise the help is there, and you are not alone. Every single time I have asked for help, as hard as it was, it was there.
- JOY LIST - Make a list of things that bring you ‘JOY’ it might be as simple as sitting in your favourite spot on the sofa with a hot cup of tea, or it might be walking in the park. Try and get to at least 3 things that help you feel ‘JOY’ write it out and stick it on the fridge as a reminder. Then plan them into your week. As human beings we tend to focus on the negative, this is not about ignoring that life is hard, its about making room for JOY and if you have to write it in your diary/phone calendar/book a sitter to work it into your week, DO IT.
- PAUSE - Practice pausing, just stopping what you are doing (I just did it whilst writing!) and notice how you are feeling. Putting a name to our feelings, and giving ourselves permission to FEEL IT, is one of the greatest tools for self development. We do it with our toddlers and kids a lot, explaining what feelings are, and appropriate ways of feeling them. This isn't about ‘happy all the time’ this is about ‘feeling sad’ and that's OK! Feel sad, have a little cry, promise it doesn't last half as long as it does when you have been bottling it all up for years. So practice PAUSING and NOTICING.
You may have noticed that I haven't used the word ‘anxiety’, for me it's another label, and I am for ditching the labels and taking action. Not suffering in silence. Talking about it, showing and sharing tools and techniques to help. Shit stuff gets smaller when it's shared. Life is hard, but it's easier when you know you are not alone.