As a former professor of communication, I know that how we talk to ourselves about our experiences shapes how we view those experiences. Whenever I hear the term “panic attack,” it usually makes me feel panicky. So we Anxiety Sisters decided to adopt a kinder, gentler term for “panic/anxiety attack:” spinning. We like this term because it doesn’t have all the unpleasant implications of the word “panic” or “attack,” and it reminds us that, like a toy top, (or a grueling cycling class at the gym) our spin will eventually come to an end.
In keeping with the lingo, one great tool for anxiety relief is what we call a Spin Kit. Very simply, a Spin Kit is a portable collection of soothers to keep with you on the go. Even just knowing that we are prepared if we start spinning (see? much better than “panic attack”) helps us to get out and about with less fear.
Spin Kits can be anything that eases anxiety, but, in case you don’t have a bunch of soothers in mind, here are a few tips:
1) Since our senses are often in overdrive when we are spinning, anything which can soothe them might be helpful. And don’t just think about taste and smell. Things that soothe our sense of touch are excellent anxiety remedies.
2) Things that distract us from our physical sensations are also great soothers. These can include music or a soft fabric or a picture of a calming scene or piece of art.
3) I’m a big fan of TLC; if it works for you, choose items that will help you to talk to yourself, loosen all constraints and cool down.
4) If they work for you, don’t forget to include over-the-counter or prescription medications that alleviate uncomfortable symptoms.
5) Do not just toss your soothers in your purse. What makes it a Kit is that it is readily accessible and very convenient. Digging frantically (ahem, Mags) through your bag during a crisis only serves to heighten anxiety. Keep your soothing items all together in their own case, bag, or box so they are right there when you need them.
Here’s what is currently in my Spin Kit:
Bach’s Rescue Remedy (2 spritzes on the tongue and I am immediately calmer)
Lavender-infused eye pillow (the smell of lavender soothes me and the pillow over my eyes relaxes me and blocks out too much visual stimulation)
Worry Stone (rubbing it distracts me and keeps me grounded in the here-and-now)
Vanilla hand lotion (smells like cupcakes! need I say more?)
Noise-cancelling ear buds (blocks out noise so I don’t feel so overwhelmed)
Laminated mantra “This too shall pass” (so I can remember to talk to myself)
Cooling towel washcloth size (so I can cool myself down instantly)
Ativan tablets (already cut in half)
Your Spin Kit should contain the soothers that help you. It takes a while to figure out what they are, so experiment. If you are willing to share, we love hearing what’s in other Anxiety Sisters’ Spin Kits.