You’re in line at the grocery store, trying to maintain your distance. You adjust your groceries. Sweating under your heavy winter coat. You struggle to get a deep breath under your 3-ply, Ministry of Health approved mask. You feel a cough coming on. Worried others will think you have COVID, you hold it in. A tickle forms in your throat. You start to feel hot. Panicky. And, BAM! You cough and sneeze all at once. Inside your mask. YUCK!
Looking around, it seems people are looking at you. Your heart is pounding. Your hands are sweaty. Your mouth is dry. And your face is red. The more you notice how red you are, the redder you become. You feel your chest tighten and your heart pounding in your head. Everything seems brighter, louder and yet you feel like everything is under water. All you want is OUT!
If so, you need a mindfulness meditation strategy that you can use on the spot.
Previously we talked about the importance of having a regular, everyday formal meditation practice. But in this case, you need a strategy that you can use on the fly. An informal practice that you can do anywhere, anytime.
Meditation on the fly
An informal meditation practice is an impromptu practice that you use as often as possible. And, whenever you need it. It’s just as important to practice mini-mindfulness moments, as it is to have a regular daily formal practice. In fact, the whole point of formal practice is to help you get better at doing informal mindfulness on the spot.
So, here you go. A COVID friendly informal practice that can help you to mitigate a panic attack.
Soak in the Senses
When you have a panic attack or anxiety attack, it can feel like an intense, all-of-a-sudden fear or discomfort. Although panic attacks are not life threatening, they sure can feel frightening. You might feel like it’s coming on with no warning and go from 0 to 100 in a fraction of a second. And yet, it does take a few minutes for symptoms to peak.
So, what can you do?
As soon as you feel the tension start to build….. let me repeat…. as soon as you feel tension building, start this practice.
Ground your feet. Exhale. And, soak in what you feel in all 5 senses.
Most people don’t often ground, exhale and pay attention on purpose. But, for this strategy to work, make it intentional. Tell yourself, “this is my strategy, to soak in the senses”.
As you read this, I want you to try it out. If you don’t try it RIGHT AWAY, you are less likely to remember this strategy later when you need it.
10. Feel your feet firmly planted on the floor.
9. Exhale and release very slowly, as much air as possible.
8. Pause for a moment.
7. Release again, as much air as possible. Try to empty your lungs.
6. Breath in slowly.
5. Name out loud, or if you’re in the grocery store name them in your head. All of the things that you can see. Try to see and name at minimum 5 things.
4. Name out loud, or if you’re in the grocery store name them in your head. All of the things you can touch or feel on your body. Try to tactile feel at least 4 things. For example, feel your hair, notice your socks, touch your sleeve, grab hold of something solid like the counter, table or wall.
3. Name out loud or in your head (you get the idea), at least 3 things that you can hear. Is there something up close, something farther away, or perhaps even your own breath exhaling.
2. Name out loud or in your head, at least 2 things that you can smell. If there is nothing in the air, smell your hands, shirt, or something your can bring to your nose.
1. Name out loud or in your head, at least 1 thing that you can taste. Swish your tongue over your teeth, gums, the corners of your lips and notice if your breakfast or coffee is still in there.
The more you practice, the easier it gets.
Leave a comment and let me know how this practice worked for you. If you’d like support with this or if you’d like to learn more ways to manage stress, anxiety, panic or worry, reach out and book an appointment today.
PS: If you’d like to learn about Mindfulness Self-Compassion, download a FREE workbook here.