How To Put Yourself Together The Morning After A Panic Attack
Oh it’s the absolute worst. Waking up the morning after an absolute meltdown and feeling that familiar sinking feeling. Oh god, why did I behave like that last night and let things spiral so much.
It’s a bit like waking up from a mental hangover. I swear sometimes you feel just as bad as if you’d gone out all night drinking. Why? Because panic attacks are so draining. People often don’t realise just how much they take out of you – especially when you have an uber bad one.
Once you’ve woken up and the sinking feeling, well, sinks in – you start the next stage of your emotional hangover. The guilt. You feel guilty for putting loved ones through such a traumatic experience. And anyone who has witnessed a full on panic attack will agree, watching someone you love go through it can be terrifying.
You lose control. You say extreme things that are super irrational. You act properly crazy while the anxiety builds and reach a climax. I don’t know about other people, but I often experience a kind of anxiety electricity running through my body. It’s like an energy – but not a good one. I fight to get rid of the energy but simply end up tensing my entire body, writhing around or seriously wanting to punch something. It’s exhausting.
The next stage you experience the morning after a panic attack is the shame. You’re like – why me? Why do I have to act like this? Why couldn’t I be stronger? And you brand yourself an absolute mess. None of these thoughts are helpful, obviously.
So I thought I’d put together some useful tips for the morning after. Because the last thing you want to do is relapse and repeat the whole trauma all over again the next day. If your panic attack happened late into the night just before you went to sleep or the early hours of the morning, you’re going to be hit extra hard in the morning.
I’m partly writing this list for you guys as I want to help others in a similar situation, but I’m also doing it for myself. Writing down a bit of an action plan just might help me the next time this happens, which I hope isn’t too soon.
Don’t push yourself too hard
OK, you’re obvs not going to wake up and be ready to conquer the world, although that would be dandy. Just don’t wake up and put MORE pressure on yourself. There was probably a reason why you freaked out so bad last night, you just might be a little bit stressed (although I’m very aware these attacks sometimes happen for no apparent reason). So take things slow. Get up, get dressed and start off the day with a gentle task. Don’t throw yourself in at the deep end.
And I don’t mean reflect on just how soul destroying last night was. Don’t spend your time wallowing and repeating all the negative thoughts that made you start to spiral in the first place. I usually feel horrendous the day after a meltdown, but I’m also able to reflect on things a bit more clearly. Once you’ve slept on things you can reflect and process what happened, and maybe get to the root of the problem.
Yesterday you were hard on yourself. You put yourself through near torture. So today, if you can, do something that will put a smile on your face, even if it’s something really small and simple. A little treat to say ‘I can do this’ or ‘I need to be kind to myself.’ It can just be a warming hot chocolate with extra whipped cream, or you could go for a manicure or go see a friend. Whatever floats your boat.
Hot shower or bath
Nothing washes your worries away like a good old soak in the bath or a warming hot shower. I sometimes feel as though sitting in the shower for a bit almost cleanses all the pain and bad energy away. And it leaves you feeling fresher and ready to face the day. Maybe boost your bath with a comforting bath oil or bath bomb.
Try and accomplish small things
You’ve had a rough time the night before, so as I mentioned earlier, go easy on yourself. But, it can help to set a few things to achieve throughout the day, even if they are really small things. I always feel better as soon as I get into town in a coffee shop and fire up my laptop. After a bad day, getting to a coffee shop and doing a few hours of work is an achievement.
Reflexology/Indian Head Massage
If you’ve had a particularly bad episode, it’s time to call in the big guns. A.K.A book yourself a relaxation treatment asap. Personally, I find if my brain is overworked and exhausted from stressing so much, an Indian Head Massage is the perfect way to relieve all the tension. And if I need to be ultra zen and totally relax, then I will book a reflexology session. Your health is so important, so it’s worth splashing out on a much needed treatment every now and then.