I have been battling with anxiety and panic attacks for coming on 5 years now. And for about 4 of those years, I have really struggled. I would isolate myself and try and keep all of my emotions in. As a result, I would have an almighty panic attack or break down and cry. Holding everything in was incredibly damaging for me. Repressing your emotions only ensures that you feel them stronger than ever. It isn’t healthy, but lots of people do it. Especially introverts. Introverts often find it difficult to talk to people. Being an introvert as well, this hindered me even more.
So here are five things that I did when I started therapy to help get my emotions out:
1) Writing it down.
When I first started therapy, my therapist suggested that I get a notebook that I would dedicate to writing down what I was feeling. Each time I felt a spike of anxiety, I would write down what triggered it and how it made me feel. This was really useful as writing it all down was very cathartic for me. Getting all my thoughts out of my head and onto paper slowed my brain down and helped me calm down. It was also really useful for my therapist as she could see what was triggering me and how to help me overcome my triggers.
2) Recording a voice note.
If you’re not a fan of writing, you could find a quiet area of your house or a place where you feel comfortable and just start speaking. Keep a record of what you’re saying. Record a voice note or film a video. This way, you can keep track of what’s triggering you and try and overcome it. You might feel a bit awkward at the beginning. But once you get going, it’s much like writing things down. Your brain will start to empty out and, thus, you feel calmer.
3) Emailing a helpline.
In the UK, we have something called the Samaritans, a charity that you can call or email if you feel you need help. It’s free and you can remain anonymous throughout the correspondence. As the person you’re emailing or calling doesn’t know you, it’s easier to offload and get all of your thoughts out without feeling embarrassed. Whatever country you live in, it’s more than likely that there is somewhere for you to contact if you need help.
4) Texting or emailing family or friends.
I found it really difficult to tell people when something was wrong. If I’d had a panic attack at school or college, I knew I should tell my parents or friends that I was upset. But I never would. I felt like if I said it out loud, then it would become real and I was at a stage where I didn’t want to admit that there was something wrong. When I expressed this to my therapist, she suggested that I make a family group chat and establish it as a safe place for me to explain what I was feeling. So every time I had a panic attack or I wasn’t quite feeling right, I’d just write a text in the group chat and that would be it.
5) Unleash your creative side
Whether it’s creative writing, poetry, drawing or photography, just let your feelings out. Expressing yourself creatively can help massively with a busy brain. You can use your emotions to dictate your art and you’re also producing something beautiful. According to a study by Boysun and Smyth, “The simple act of writing about bad times can be a potent, and low cost, method of relieving pain and symptoms of chronic illnesses.” And who knows, you might even discover your inner Shakespeare!
Have you tried any of these techniques before? What works best for you when you’ve got a noisy brain? Leave a comment below!
Edited by Viveca Shearin