I designed the Stop Panic and Anxiety Sticker Set to help you more effectively manage anxiety and panic attacks, based on what the both the research and my experience working with anxious clients suggests will help you the most. Before you start to use these with your Life Planner or with a calendar that you may have, please read my post: Some Tips for Using Wellness Planner Stickers. It contains some helpful Dos and Don’ts that will make a big difference in the results you will see using them! If you begin doing ALL the things that are helpful to manage anxiety at one time, you will likely become even MORE anxious…not exactly what you want to do. Start low and go slow and you’ll get this.
The first thing to remember about anxiety is that it is a pretty normal human experience. The vast majority of human beings have felt anxious at some time in their lives and it’s likely that our nervous systems are primed to be anxious, because it kept us vigilant and on the lookout for dangerous predators or things that could cause us harm. As a tool for survival, it’s a good thing. When it becomes a constant state of mind or being, it is mental and physical torture.
By developing regular self-care habits, you can greatly reduce your nervous system’s hyper-reactive response to stress, change the way you perceive and respond to threats in your environment, and anticipate and develop better responses to triggers for anxiety and panic in your life.
What I hope to do with this sticker set for your Life Planner is help you, coping skill by coping skill, become more able to manage life stress without your typical anxious cognitive or physiological response. That’s a fancy way of saying that I want you to be able to respond to life stress with a different set of thoughts and without the knee-jerk response of your heart racing, your stomach clenching, and feeling like you want to run and hide.
You can learn how to become more resilient to the stressors and triggers that normally make you feel anxious, as well as learn what to do when a panic attack begins. Stress busters can not only be practiced regularly for resilience, if you put them into motion when you feel an attack coming on, they will often reduce the intensity of an attack or prevent a full-blown attack.
Here’s what psychologists know you need to be doing on a weekly basis to manage your anxiety and panic attacks, based on the research. If you’re already doing some or most of these, that’s great…keep it going! If you’re not doing any of these consistently, you can use your Life Planner to get one going at a time until eventually these are all just regular life habits. The difference between life with and without them is tremendous.
Here are the most important skills you need to manage your anxiety and why they are important. And there’s no need to be anxious…there’s a sticker to help you begin to incorporate each skill into your life one at a time!
Healthy coping skills to manage anxiety:
Hydrate: De-hydration leads to many of the symptoms that are triggers for panic attacks
Eat healthy: Eating foods that fight inflammation can help you manage stress and anxiety
Get social: Social support can help you manage anxiety and reduce stress
Get active: Regular exercise reduces feelings of anxiety and improves your mood
Get outside: Spending time in nature has multiple mental and physical health benefits
Additional helpful stress-management practices:
Gratitude: Focusing on what you’re grateful for changes your perspective
Stress-busters: Practicing proven techniques, including deep breathing, help you manage anxiety
The Stop Panic and Anxiety Sticker Set comes with inspirational quotes to help you change your thought process as you deal with your anxiety each week.
The stickers for developing and maintaining the essential anxiety-managment habits of regularly hydrating, eating healthy, getting social support, exercising, and spending time in nature are best if used to build toward mastery one habit at a time. If you’re not used to doing these weekly already, don’t start trying to fit them all in at once. That’s a recipe for overwhelm! Just pick one and work toward the goal of doing this weekly until you’ve accomplished this and it feels like a regular habit. Then start with another one, keeping that first one going, too. This can take weeks to months, sometimes years to get really good at. Remember progress, not perfection, is the goal.
Your gratitude practice and stress-buster reminder stickers can be put into your week either on a regular basis or when you know you will need them the most, given your life stress. Pay particular attention to the stress busters, because many of them can be used at the onset of a panic attack to prevent it from going full-blown.
The “today I can” stickers are for you to practice changing the way you speak to yourself about things you want to do. Instead of saying “I need to”, or “I ought to”, or “I should” be doing something, you are going to learn how to replace that with “I can…and I have a choice.” So, instead of “Today I should exercise”, these stickers can be used to remind yourself to say “Today I can exercise…and I have a choice.” You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. And you always have a choice.
Consider using the star stickers to reward yourself for any progress made towards a goal. Habits are hard to change. That means bad habits are hard to break and good habits are hard to get established. If you are able to make any progress at all, give yourself a star…just like when you were a kid. There’s still a kid in you who I hope will appreciate that acknowledgement of the hard work it takes to make change happen!
Remember that to get to the point where you are regularly practicing all of these habits to manage your anxiety, it could take months to years. That’s normal and quite reasonable, particularly given how much else you likely have going on in your life. But working to establish even one of these habits this year is a great goal to work towards and will have mental health and physical health benefits for you not just this year, but for years to come.
I will be writing more about each of the coping skills listed above and how to get them established using your Life Planner in future blog posts, with some specific examples to help you be successful. So please stay tuned and check in frequently or follow me on my facebook page or on twitter where I’ll let you know when they post!