I have anxiety, probably as a result of experiences that will haunt me forever. At times, I still have panic attacks — moments where I feel like I can’t breathe, it’s getting hot, and I’m overthinking but can’t think at the same time.

For a long time, I didn’t know how to get past these moments, so I would be irritable and freaking out all day. I would text friends, and though I love them dearly, they never got me through them. And with every one of them living in different states, they couldn’t do much. I looked into helping myself, since I’m the only one that can, though all credit is to God.

For breathing, I never do much. I just focus on steadying the sound of my breaths. But not long ago, I found out about 5-4-3-2-1, a technique to help you ground yourself when you steady your breathing again. You count five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one thing you can taste. It usually works for me, but sometimes it doesn’t.

So for the times it doesn’t, I recommend you get a hug. And if you’re like me, you don’t like being touched. But I found that hugs are helpful with anxiety attacks from an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, in which Dr. Dixon was panicking and Miranda Bailey gave her a hug. I never thought anything of it, because medical shows aren’t fully accurate and I never thought I would face panic attacks on that level. But the other day, I remembered that episode when having an attack, so I looked up “hugs and anxiety” on Google, finding that a hug is known to stimulate oxytocin release and increase the level of our “feel good” hormones. All of these together have a way of bringing me peace. These tips are easy to remember — simple ways to find the calm after the storm that is anxiety.

(Featured Image Credit: Judy Cloud)

Tags: anxiety mental health
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she/her. black woman. writer. 🤎