It was a regular evening.
I was sitting in a taxi on my way to an appointment.
The phone in my hand lit up with a new message.
Everything slowed down as I read it.
My heart started pounding against my chest… as though trying to escape the car before the rest of my body.
My throat went dry.
My chest tightened.
The car suddenly felt too small.
I had to get out.
Struggling to keep my voice calm, I told the driver to let me out and I started walking. I didn’t know where I was going but I was in hurry to get there.
I stopped. Closed my eyes. And took a deep breath.
I’d felt like this before.
I was in the middle of an anxiety attack.
And I knew the message caused it. The contents of the message wasn’t devastating. But it was triggering. And my brain and body didn’t seem to know how to handle it.
I took another deep breath and reminded myself that I wasn’t in any immediate danger.
It didn’t help.
I took yet another deep breath and tried to remember what my therapist told me to do in this situation.
It was a 54321 technique, but I couldn’t recall exactly what the 54321 things were.
They came back in fragments:
Five things you can see…
Some things you can hear…
One thing you can taste.
I knew I wasn’t remembering everything perfectly but it didn’t matter.
By focusing on my breathing, the taste of gum in my mouth and the sights and sounds around me, my errant heart starting slowing to it’s usual rhythm.
That technique didn’t actually save my life that day but it felt like it did.
So I’d like to share it with you.
It’s actually a proven way of treating anxiety attacks. And it only takes less than a minute.
The version below is from the Calm meditation app. It’s something I’ve revisited a number of times whenever I felt stressed or overwhelmed .
If you suffer from anxiety I sincerely think it’ll help.
If you don’t suffer from anxiety but know someone who does, please share this post and video with them. They’ll thank you for it.