Today I was shopping with my one-year-old. He obviously loves shopping for coats (enter sarcastic tone) so we were having a blast together (more sarcasm).
After trying a few on, I left the department with Fin in the stroller. Suddenly I realized that the coat I wore into the store which had my phone, keys and wallet was not there anymore.
I must have hung it up while trying on other coats. My mind went into an instant panic.
“What if there’s an emergency?”
“Is Fin going to be ok?”
“I will need to cancel all my credit cards”
“Maybe someone stole it?”
“How am I going to get home?”
I’m racing around. My body is tense, jaw tight and adrenaline pumping. My mind goes blank and all I can think about is how I need to get this coat ASAP.
Luckily I found it and as I picked it up my shoulders softened and I could find my breath again.
When we are in fight or flight/panic it is REALLY hard to stop, take a breath, count to ten, feel your feet on the earth…. really any tool that will help us soften the overwhelm.
As someone who has been practicing these tools for over a decade, it still doesn’t come naturally to pause when our amygdala is firing. That’s the beauty of these tools. We have them with us always and it takes consistent practice to make that pause feel more natural and readily available.
Panicked or overwhelmed? A few tools:
Pause: Before you let your mind go into 38947945 different directions, pause.
Deep breath: Fill your entire belly up with air and exhale all the air out 3x. This will help your prefrontal cortex get back online so you can think clearly again.
Ask for help: Is there someone around that could help you to make the panic/overwhelm dissipate?
Forward fold: To release some of that adrenaline a calming position with our body can help soothe us. Bring feet to hip-width distance apart, fold over legs with a soft bend in the knees and let your head and neck be heavy. Arms can fall where they are or you can interlace opposite elbows while softening the jaw.
Choosing one tool when life is feeling FULL can help nurture body and mind.
Pausing is SO hard, especially when emotions are HIGH. Let’s be gentle on ourselves, especially during times of high stress and anxiety.