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Create your own "tool box" for soothing anxiety and panic

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  • 3 months later...

I'm bumping this, because it's such a good idea to have a coping "tool box".


A few things in mine:


1. Walking with my dog or a friend or both


2. Sitting outdoors or by an open window and listening to the sounds of nature around me


3. A gratitude practice

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  • 1 month later...

I just read this in its entirety. Good for you V!.

I have GAD and I had a couple panic attacks years ago. Fortunately I don't allow it to get to that point any more.

It's something we always have to manage I'm afraid

I am encouraged by your story and how far you've come!

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I just read this in its entirety. Good for you V!.

I have GAD and I had a couple panic attacks years ago. Fortunately I don't allow it to get to that point any more.

It's something we always have to manage I'm afraid

I am encouraged by your story and how far you've come!


Thank you!! I have a panic disorder and PTSD from sexual abuse as a kid and other child abuse. I have improved a lot in the past couple years after my breakdown. My husband had GAD. But he seems to have

overcome all of it with medication and therapy. But he will be medicated his entire life to deal with OCD.

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I have what you would call a tool box for when I have insomnia or wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble going to sleep. I tend to get anxious too fast when I can't sleep. I do 4-7-8 breathing and I have one or two visualizations I do that involve a simple task (like making a bed) but where there are several steps to it and the end result is soothing -like a perfectly cozy place to sleep. I also visualize the soothing objects I would surround myself with - a favorite book, a book light within arm's reach in case I can't sleep -almost like creating a protective bubble or tunnel. I don't think it matters what you visualize but I do find that because it has several steps to it and involves something safe/comforting that is what works for me.


Thank you for this thread.

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  • 4 months later...
  • 1 year later...
Here is my own "tool box" and explanation of my own situation. Hopefully there is something in here that can help you.


Here is my explanation of my therapy.


Ok, here I go. I will start at the top. I have a panic disorder due to the effects of my childhood and other events in my life which just added trauma to my life.So I am in therapy right now to sort that all out. It is going extremely well by my standards and the counselor's standards. So of course a lot of what I has to say pertains to my specific situation but it can be used to fears and anxieties in general. The amygdala is a part of the brain that controls fear. It is in the primitive part of our brain. It also helps with the hypothalamus process fearful events or stressful events or traumatic events. It also works subconsciously. Without you even knowing it, it can assess something as totally dangerous for survival and then it sends out a chemical response in the limbic system to start the flight or fight response. You can not control that at all. However you can control how it makes you feel. Because I have a panic disorder my threshold for extreme fear is very low and has many triggers. They can happen out of nowhere so seemly no reason. All fear however is controlled by the amygdala. So people with anxieties and what not also have lower threshold for the amygdala being activated.


I started talk and cognitive therapy after being hospitalized a few times for panic that would not stop for days on end. I was near total physical collapse so I HAD to do something. I had lost almost 30 pounds in a month because I could not eat or drink or sleep or anything. What I have been learning are "grounding techniques" and there are millions of them out there. So anytime I feel panic starting I start my grounding techniques. They basically bring you back into the present moment. Fear and anxiety takes you OUT of the present moment and into the past or the future. Right? We can not live in those places. We have to live in the present. If we live in the present we have to be focused and in our own bodies.


Now some of the techniques that I use:


1. I find walking very grounding. I go for two walks a day almost every single day. So I walk about an hour a day or a little more. The endorphins it creates make you feel awesome which create health benefits too on top of the other obvious ones.


2. I have a safe place in my house that I go to if I am overwhelmed. That is my bedroom. If I am overwhelmed I ask that my family leave me alone in there for about 20 mins. You can also have a safe place in your head as well. Like a memory and you think about that memory and see it with ALL your senses.


3. Breathing techniques. You can look up a lot of these. One I use is I breath in deeply and I say, " I am peaceful and safe", and on the exhale I say, " I am letting out fear, anxiety and panic."


4. I touch my body, lightly tapping my arm or massaging my scalp or snapping a rubber band on my arm. This reminds me I am in my own body and not floating.


5. I take off my socks and walk on the floor with my eyes closed and feel the sensations of how that feels.


6. You can describe your physical surroundings with all your five senses. So you describe what you touch, you describe what you see, describe what you hear, ..... you can the picture. You keep doing it until the anxiety disappears.


7. Sometimes I will have a very hot bath or shower.


8. Affirmations. Here are ones I say 3 times a day about 5 times each.


The only moment I can control is the present moment.


I deserve to be loved


I deserve the right to express myself and be heard


I am on the path to healing


I love and accept myself and I am safe


The dark can not hurt me


The past can not hurt me


It is safe to go to sleep


I am with people who love me and won't let anyone hurt me.


Now your situation is probably different so you have to find affirmations that work for you in particular.


9. I find people to talk to even if it only 15 minutes and that helps me a lot.


10. If I have tried everything and nothing is working and it has been many hours I take a larger dose of my medication. I take a benzo once a day to keep myself off the edge. I take half a pill daily. If I have days where SQUAT is working and I have tried for about 8 hours to stop the panic I take an entire pill. That does not happen too often though. Maybe once every few months. ( I would check this with your prescribing doctor though because benzo's are a control medication and they only give you so many)



Grounding techniques are basically self soothing so that your fear does not change your perception of reality. Having someone else sooth our anxiety is not a good strategy. Ignoring our anxiety is also not a good strategy. My counselor has taught me to build a "tool box" of techniques for self soothing and my "tool box" is what I have described to you in shorter detail. I keep building my tool box with more skills all the time and you need many skills because one or two won't cut it and can fail. You need back ups for when others fail.



Once you have your tools and are secure in using them you can take your fears and anxieties out of the box. You can sit with uncomfortable and bad feelings and explore why you have them and what triggers them and decide if they are applicable anymore. You can also decide if they are even " your crap" to begin with or something that was projected onto you by someone else.


Basically you are taking control of your fear and anxiety responses and when you have control you have LESS fear and anxiety. And all anxiety is is fear and once you learn to control that......................


Wow this is super helpful!!

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  • 10 months later...
  • 8 months later...

I exercise aerobically every other day and take walks on my non-aerobic days. I diet diligently, drink a lot of water and tend to be a morning person. I pray a lot. I enforce healthy boundaries with others and learned from my past mistakes when I was incredibly naive.


I can't control the world or people in it but I can control my own life. Nowadays, I focus completely on my physical and mental health. There is a strong sound body, sound mind connection.


I immerse myself into hobbies whenever I find the time. I enjoy sewing quilts for my family and stockpiled gifts for the future, calligraphy, scrapbooking, greeting card emobossing, stamping, wax sealing, cooking & baking for my family, crocheting and craft projects. I enjoy reading books from my local library and have a stack of them on my nightstand.


I meet friends for lunch every month.


No one can make me happy. I'm responsible for creating my own happiness and sound mind.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 year later...
Bumping this useful thread.


Working outdoors is helpful to keep me grounded. Digging in the dirt, moving rocks or stacking firewood clears my head


Thanks journey. Walking helps me a lot too. My son and hubby and I walk for an hour almost every evening. It does help.

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