The other day I found myself on the verge of a panic attack. I, like so many others am experiencing more anxiety than usual. Mostly from uncertainty and uncontrollable circumstances.
See what happened was…
Earlier that morning I sensed that my husband needed to get away. He’s been working so hard for our family and really doing the bulk of our errands in addition to his day job on the front lines of our home state.
He enjoys being outdoors and really looks for any opportunity to go for a drive. So, it’s worked out to my advantage especially during COVID.
But the monotony of responsibility and social distancing during quarantine was taking its toll. He’s not the type to complain about it but I could just feel it. And I wanted to do something to alleviate his angst in whatever way I could. Which in his case would include some form of ‘getting away’.
So, I suggested that we take a day trip to the western coast where there are beautiful beaches. We could still practice social distancing and take necessary precautions while giving him the feeling of being on vacation.
He was enthusiastic when I said it. I packed a quick bag of snacks, books to read, threw on my bikini underneath the sundress I was wearing and masks – of course.
We hit the road and in a little over three hours were arriving at a park that gave way to a secluded beach at the bottom of bamboo style stairs.
That’s when I saw that this “secluded” beach was not so secluded after all. I guess everyone else had the same idea. And that’s when I felt a surge of adrenaline rush from my feet through my throat and to my head.
No one was wearing a mask and they were piled on the beach like sardines. At least that’s how I saw it.
I looked at my husband and felt torn. I wanted to run to the car and hit the turbo button home. But, he looked so contented and fully in his element.
Still, I headed back up the stairs while saying “this isn’t going to work”.
Activate My Mindset Shift, PLEASE!
I had a choice. Go into full panic mode and ruin this little getaway that was MY idea. Or pull myself together so I could think with a clear head of suitable options.
I calmly told my husband that I was experiencing some anxiety and just needed a minute to myself. I went to the car and started deep breathing exercises while stripping down to my bikini (don’t ask me why – it just felt right).
Then I saw that my husband was walking to another end of the park.
That’s when I started running my mindset strategy.
When I experience anxiety here’s my inner dialog:
“What were you thinking before this feeling?” I get very specific as though I’m playing back a movie. I recall the exact series of words and pinpoint the second I started to feel the fight or flight urge.
“Is it based on reality or your imagination?” Most often it’s our imagination that gets the best of us when we start feeling anxious. So, I acknowledge where I let my imagination ran wild.
“What can you do about it right now?” I think of my options in order to continue with my objective or at least a reasonable alternative.
“Stop resisting.” The worst thing to doing during a panic attack is to resist it. Stop resisting a changed environment. Stop resisting changed circumstances. Stop resisting the present moment or longing for the past.
#1 Mindset Shift – Stop resisting.
The very thing you resist often becomes what you are focused on. For example, DON’T THINK OF A TEA CUP.
Isn’t it true that the first thing you did was actually think of a tea cup?
That’s how much your unconscious or subconscious mind listens. It hears only the forward thinking part of the command (think of a tea cup). Instead of thinking about what you don’t want, you must deliberately think of what you do want.
In my case, I wanted to Be Calm. Think Clearly. Stay focused on the present moment.
It’s so important to respond to anxiety with calm thoughts because we’re designed to respond to urgency with adrenaline. The only problem is that when the urgency is met with resistance the adrenaline and is more than what is needed it has nowhere to go.
So, the ability to adapt comes from staying the present moment. It’s also how to slow down the adrenaline release.
And, I know you’re thinking ‘that’s easier said than done.’ Is it, though?
Remember your unconscious mind will do exactly what you tell it to do. You just have to want to do it.
I accepted the present moment and focused on reality. I chose to think of this moment as being what I had wanted – a day at the beach relaxing with my husband.
I also realized that I had three masks in the car. We could still enjoy this bit of recreation with my sanity in tact.
My husband found us a less populated spot. I grabbed our bags, a book to read, sunglasses and relaxed.
We visited three beaches that day and really enjoyed our spontaneous getaway.