There is nothing worse than having a fight or flight response. It can last for hours once the adrenaline and cortisol dump into the bloodstream. It is bad enough when you have that response and you know what caused it, but imagine having that response without knowing what caused it. That can feel defeating and depleting.
Since I have had too many panic attacks to count over the years, I have started to identify ways and places I feel safe. If I am able to get to one of these places, I can sometimes head off a panic attack or restore a calm mood. I hope you can start to identify your safe places and safe activities.
For ME, my top 7 are:
I created a Power Hour with my husband 1-2 years ago. This hour from 7-8 pm is sacred and did not happen until at least 10 years into my marriage. There were lots of reasons we were not connecting regularly, but one of them was some strained family dynamics. I created this time and location so that we could start to connect regularly and so that other family members would respect that time we both needed so desperately.
Naming what you need is so important. Deciding what will happen and when it will happen is
paramount for consistency and expectations in a relationship.
As I have said many times, I am not a licensed therapist.
When I found my AMAZING current therapist, one of the very first things she
guided me to ask myself regularly was "do I feel safe?".
I barely had time to stretch for 5 minutes a day, so how was I going to remember
to ask myself if I feel safe? What in the world was she talking about?
I soon realized that the simple, brief, piercing question "do I feel safe?"
would become a huge turning point for healing in my life.
Do I feel safe in this friendship?
Do I feel safe in this marriage?
Do I feel safe at work?
Do I feel safe with just me, myself, and I?
And if I don't feel safe, can I ask those that love me for what I need?
Are there some strategies we could implement that would help me to feel safe?
Do I need to close spend more time with those people and in those places
that help me feel safe? Will that help me navigate the unavoidable
situations where I do not feel safe?
And most importantly, if I start to feel unsafe (which can sometimes lead
to a panic attack), HOW can I get back to safety both
mentally and physically? She freed up my LIFE when she explained
that I don't have to "fix" whatever is making me feel unsafe.
I just have to learn how to regulate my own body and get
back to a place of calm and centeredness.
Wow. Mic Drop.
I don't have to fix it!
I can't fix it!
This is one of those posts I encourage you to read a few times and perhaps grab
a pen and paper. Jot down the places and people who make you feel icky.
Write down the people and places that make you feel GOOD.
And try to stop focusing on fixing the first list. You can't fix it.
Focus on spending more time in and around the second list.
And find your seven ways and places to feel safe.