Relaxation training is only one of many ways to calm down. In fact, it doesn't work well when anxiety is very high. Here are many more useful methods, briefly described. Each month, I will explain another method in greater detail including how it works, so that you can bring them easily into your life. These articles are published in my newsletter, available by visiting the Phobic Update page.
Most often, this is simply a person who makes you feel calmer. Children can be calming if enjoyed or played with. Or, you can choose a special "practice partner" for their warmth and helpfulness.
Most find that active conversation or "talking it out" to be calming. It is not for everyone, and it can be overused. Talking about interests and feelings is especially calming.
This is sure-fire. Whatever is very interesting, attractive or absorbing will do. A reliable satisfaction, a favorite hobby or pasttime are great. Examples: catalogues, photos, puzzles, opposite sex, electronic fames, music, chewy foods, etc.
Whatever gives direct, personal pleasure or dependable satisfaction is best. This is an individual choice and the pleasures should be healthy and not get you in trouble. Examples: singing, message, artwork, collecting, crafts, childcare, gardening, etc.
The active use of your whole body in some absorbing activity brings mind and body together in calmness. Examples: sports, walking, dancing, hiking, video workouts, cleaning, swimming, etc.
This is purely sensual touching, probing, seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling and whatever direct sensations reassure you in a fearful situation. Examples: control surfaces of car, fresh air, wet face cloth, sipping water, solidness of floor, etc.
This consists of a detailed inspection of your immediate situation so that it becomes familiar and ordinary. For example, if fearful of heights, observe your escape route, supports, railings and walls, distances, other people nearby, etc.
This means studying and getting relevent information about the fearful situation so that it becomes understandable and acceptable. Examples: studying how aircraft fly, how snakes behave, etc.
If you check out and identify patterns of behavior or events, you make the fearful situation more predictable and more in your control. Examples: patterns in auto traffic, party behavior, response to medication, telephone talk, etc.
Diaphragmatic Breathing (Stomach Breathing)
Taking 3 or 4 deep breths by swelling your stomach (not your chest) stretches your diaphragmatic muscle and reflexively lowers your heart rate, respiration and other nervous activity in your body.
Good ole' relaxation: this often is a combination of letting muscle tension go, stretching, deep breathing, and focusing on peaceful images. This practice lowers overall nervous excitement so that surges into high anxiety or panic are rarer.
Deliberately rehearsing a positive outcome or benefit, instead of worrying about the worst, is always calming. Example: "I am never trapped. I can step outside anytime. I can come back calmer."
Whenever you can step back or out of a fearful situation, you get control, a chance to calm down and to find better approaches. Important: go right back into the fearful situation. Example: sit on the aisle seat for an easy exit - and easy return.
Knowing Your Triggers
When you analyze the situation of fear into what causes anxiety to rise, you have fewer surprises, more good planning, and real success. Example: home alone, fearing nothing to do, being alone, and darkness, I will phone friends and plan my activities.
This means getting another person to give you the support when you need it, or sometimes to be there "just in case". Example: have a partner wait outside the store by the door, just in case you need him/her. It does not have to be a dedicated practice partner.
Panic Free - The Book
Dr. Raynard's book, Panic Free, was designed to be a guide you can take right out in fearful situations. It is calming, distracting, motivating, assuring and a true companion
for you. The action plans will help guide you each step of the way.
Where to go from here?
Truthful facts will help you understand what is happening to you, and what can be done to end the destructive cycle of panic-symptoms-worry-avoidance which keeps you stuck. I will expand upon each of these Calming Methods and bring the facts to you in a way which will motivate you to put an end to your suffering once and for all.
If you're in a hurry for the Calming Methods, Dr. Raynard's book Panic Free discusses each of these and much more. If you would like information about Dr. Raynard - The Panic Doctor - visit the Credentials page or Contact.
To be panic free is a reasonable hope,
no matter how long or severe your attacks have been.