I am no stranger to panic. In fact the very reason that I sought counseling for myself in the first place was because I was having uncontrollable panic attacks. I just wanted to share with you a few things that helped me stop a panic attack, or even stop the downward thought spiral. These techniques are very simple and most of them can be used anytime, and anywhere.
1. Mindful noticing – it is as simple and as complicated at that. Oftentimes we get stuck in our minds either increasing the panic, or causing the downward though spiral to continue to descend. The reason mindful noticing works is because it throws a kink in the cycle. There are several ways to use this technique:
a. Whatever is surrounding you, notice it. Describe it, fully. Name it out
loud if you are alone. For example: I am sitting in my office, I am sitting in a burgundy chair, and the chair feels hard against my back. The keys on the keyboard feel slick. They are black. I have a silver bracelet dangling from my arm. I will count the crosses on this bracelet, there are 9. The metal feels cold. Etc, etc, etc. Keep doing this until you begin to calm.
b. Pick up a piece of fruit. Describe it fully and completely. As you eat it, notice the textures, chew slowly, notice the taste, etc, until you begin to calm.
c. Close your eyes and breathe slow and deep, notice every sensation you feel. Do not judge it, simply notice it. From the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Notice how the surface you are laying or sitting on feels, continue to do this until you begin to calm.
2. The rubber band technique – I love this one! Sounds crazy but works! Place a rubber band around your wrist. Where it everywhere you go. When you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, pop yourself on the wrist with your rubber band and in your mind or out loud say “stop”. This technique is a behavioral and aversive technique. The idea is that eventually you will stop thinking these thoughts to avoid the pop! Also the sensation of the pop on your skin is usually enough to jolt you out of the negative thought cycle. Sounds crazy I know, but it TOTALLY works!
3. Verbal thought stopping and scripture. When you start the negative thought cycle, say as loudly as possible “STOP”! Refocus your thoughts, and refute the negative thoughts and lies with scriptural truth. I know the scriptural truth may not be something you “believe” at first, but over time you will come to believe it. You have spent years in these negative thought patterns, repeating them to yourself over and over again. It may also take several times of repeating scripture to yourself over and over again for you to begin to believe it. But, eventually, with practice you will replace those lies with truth! And the truth will set you free dear sister!
Lastly, I want to encourage you to seek individual counseling if you feel that is where the Lord is leading you. I avoided talking about my pain for years, and it wasn’t easy when I finally started talking about it in therapy. But it was so worth it.
Individual counseling from a Christian counselor was invaluable to me, she led me closer to the Lord, and with her guidance and His healing...it changed my life. I also continue to take an anti-anxiety medication. Which I was totally against at first, but it has made all the difference in the world. When you have been hurt or abused and spend years in certain thought patterns the chemicals of your brain get imbalanced. Medication can help to correct that imbalance. If you had high blood pressure you would take medication for that right? Same story with anxiety or depression, sometimes medication is needed, and there is nothing wrong with that!