How to exist in the 21st century and not have a panic attack
MATT HAIG SHARES HIS TRIED AND TESTED ADVICE
Keep an eye on yourself. Be your own friend. Be your own parent. Be kind to yourself. Check on what you are doing. Do you need to watch the last episode of the series when it is after midnight? Do you need that third or fourth glass of wine? Is that really in your best interests?
Breathe. Breathe deep and pure and smooth. Concentrate on it. Breathing is the pace you set your life at. It’s the rhythm of the song of you. It’s how to get back to the centre of things. The centre of yourself. When the world wants to take you in every other direction. It was the rst thing you learned to do. The most essential and simple thing you do. To be aware of breath is to remember you are alive.
GENTLY DOES IT
Don’t grab life by the throat. As the writer Ray Bradbury said: “Life should be touched, not strangled“.
SIMPLIFY THINGS Declutter your mind. Panic is the product of overload. In an overloaded world, we need to have a lter. We need to simplify things. We need to disconnect sometimes. We need to stop staring at our phones. To have moments of not thinking about work. A kind of mental feng shui.
Accept feelings. And accept that they are just that: feelings.
Listen to calm noise; things that aren’t as stimulating as music. Think waves, your own breath, a breeze through the leaves, the purr of a cat, and best of all: rain.
MAKE PANIC YOUR PAL
If you feel panic rising, the instinctive reaction is to panic some more; to panic about the panic. The trick is to try to feel panic without panicking about it. This is nearly – but not quite – impossible. My panic disorder was de ned by frequent panic attacks and the continuous hellish fear of the next one. By the time I’d had hundreds of panic attacks, I began to tell myself I wanted them. I didn’t, obviously. But I used to work hard at trying to invite the panic – as a test, to see how I could cope. The more I invited it, the less it wanted to stay around.
Stretch and exercise. Panic is physical as well as mental. For me, running and yoga help more than anything else.