Over the years I’ve accumulated a number of anxiety essentials that I find useful or comforting during a panic attack. These range from things to help with the general symptoms I get to a few things that are useful for distracting me. Most of them I try and keep in my bag with me, or I make sure that I have them within good reach at home. I thought for today’s post I’d share with you the things in my anxiety kit, in the hope that it will give you some ideas for your own.
When I’m anxious, the number one thing that happens is that I feel sick. That’s why mints have always been my go to when it comes to my anxiety essentials. It stems back from when I was a kid and I’d always get a stomach ache – my Mum would always tell me to have a mint. I’ve looked into it too, peppermint is a good natural remedy for nausea. I don’t tend to take actual peppermint oil, I literally just suck on extra strong mints because it’s a much cheaper habit to have when you feel anxious as often as I do. I’m not overly sure as to whether it’s a placebo effect of some sort, but I generally find that they settle my stomach.
This follows on closely from the mints thing. It’s a similar thing in terms of the mint settling my stomach, but I also find that chewing gum for some reason makes me feel hungry, and when you feel sick, the feeling of hunger is actually quite reassuring. My go to during an anxiety attack is mints, but if I feel sick after eating (which is often) that will generally trigger an anxiety attack – which is why in these cases I head straight for chewing gum. It helps ease that awful bloated feeling, and the mint generally gets rid of the taste of whatever I’ve just eaten, which usually triggers the nausea more!
I have several go to games on my phone that I play if things start getting too much. Puzzle and strategy games work amazingly well for me when it comes to anxiety distraction. My personal favourites are Cats Are Cute, FrozenFree Fall, and 2048. Just make sure your phone is charged enough or that you keep a power bank in your bag if you’re out and about!
A Hair Tie
I don’t like the feeling of my hair in my face if I feel sick – I assume because of the fear of it getting in the way if I actually did throw up. Which is why I always try and keep a hair tie in my bag or within close reach. Sometimes just simply putting my hair up and out of my face is a good start at calming me down.
This is a given. Medication plays a huge part in my essentials for anxiety. I take an SSRI every day as I have done for the last 2, nearly 3 years to fight my OCD and anxiety, something which I will hopefully come off of or at least decrease in the future. Recently my stomach issues have started to resurface, so I now take medication for IBS too, with the idea that treating it will help break the cycle between that and the anxiety. I also keep a box of Imodium in my bag too, for the times when the IBS medication doesn’t quite work.
I mentioned in an earlier post about the importance of some good self care TV, but again it can also work wonders in terms of anxiety distraction. I have a pretty big collection of boxsets that I can pick out when I’m at home, and I’ve also got Netflix installed on my phone for when I’m away. It’s amazing how simply zoning out for the duration of a 20 minute sitcom episode can really calm you down. You can read my post on my go-to self care shows here.
So while this isn’t a physical thing in my anxiety attack survival kit, some good distraction techniques should definitely be included, because when done properly, they do actually work. I’m going to share two of my favourites: one I think is quite a well known one, the other is one I’ve made up myself.
- Take a deep breath, and try to name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. I read about this on an anxiety forum I was part of and found it really helped the next time I had a panic attack.
- This is slightly more quirky – I list Taylor Swift songs for every letter of the alphabet. A is All Too Well, B is Bad Blood, C is Call It What You Want etc. There’s one or two letters that don’t have a song but generally, going through my Tay-Tay alphabet is enough to distract me and calm me down from a panic attack. You don’t have to even list Taylor Swift songs – you can do it with another artist, your favourite TV shows, your favourite movies, whatever works for you.
What essentials are in your anxiety survival kit? Do you have any fail safe anxiety essentials you can’t live without?
Post first published on SassyCatLady.com – May 2019