My First Coping Tool- Breathing!

The main thing I want to get out of seeking professional help for my anxiety is a “toolkit” of coping mechanisms. I know that anxiety isn’t just going to disappear for good and the chances are that there will be things throughout life which will crop up and trigger me and I want to be ready for them!

One of the absolute worst things about feeling anxious, in my experience, is the feeling of being out of control. I can’t control my thoughts and I can’t control my physical response to them. It’s bloody awful. I first properly experienced this on the dog walk I mentioned in my “An Unexpected Turn of Events” blog. When it happened that time, I had no real coping mechanisms to pull on and just felt totally adrift and alone. I’m delighted to say that few sessions with Celia have now given me some core tools for my kit!

I have a few things going on just now which have had me struggling over the past few days. Today has been particularly bad and I ALMOST had a reoccurrence of that awful walk. This time, I recognised it for what it was and pulled my tools out of the bag baby!

I know that this week I’ve had a fairly constant ‘low level’ of anxiety buzzing away around my solar plexus but it’s been manageable and I’ve been using a few techniques to deal with it. Imagine me doing breathing techniques and tapping away at my knees under my gown at the hairdresser and you’ve got the picture. However today, again on my walk (I think it’s because THAT is when I get the most headspace and therefore my mind goes crazy for those stressy thoughts!) I started to feel overwhelmed and all of a sudden felt the tears pricking behind my eyes. Fuck sake! I was more prepared today. Thank goodness.

Because I was walking the dogs, I needed to use a method which could work ‘on the go. This pretty much narrowed it down to breathing techniques. I have been practicing one which Celia told me about; it involves breathing in for a count of 4 and out for 8. I like this one because the counting gives me something to focus my thoughts on while the breaths themselves regulate my body and the nonsense it’s giving me. I used this today while I walked once I realised what was happening. And it worked!!! It brought me down a good few levels. If I said my anxiety was about an 8/10 when I started, I was down to a 4/10 when I finished. This is a LOT. Then I stepped onto the beach and honestly, the instant my boots hit the pebbles I was down to a 2/10. The beach is magical, I swear. Thank God I live on an island! I think the smell of the salt in the air helped to calm me too. Might sound a bit nuts, don’t really care. I’m rolling with it.

More posts to follow on other equally magical techniques. For now, in for 4 and out for 8!

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