Draíocht Healing founder Laura McAuliffe shares some tips on dealing with anxiety and panic attacks.

One of the most common issues people come to me with is anxiety and/or panic attacks.
It seems to be more prevalent than ever, especially in younger people. There are a number of factors contributing to this including social media and recovering from a global pandemic to name a few. There seems to be growing pressure on young people now to have everything figured out and to constantly be happy and grateful for the life they have, and it can feel like you are the only one who is feeling anxiety when all you see are peoples highlights on Instagram.

The first thing I ask people is, do you have any time to switch off? Usually they may think that they are having down time by watching tv, or scrolling on their phones, or spending time with friends. But what I mean when I say switch off is; having time where you can remove yourself from all devices, and all other people, and experience pure stillness. No distractions, and no expectations. Most people don’t do this or feel like they can’t, and that’s probably because they have never tried.

I have dealt with anxiety myself now for ten years, and have found a few places and techniques that really help my mind to switch off, and to feel a sense of calm wash over my body. Examples of these are; being in the ocean, being in the woods, sitting in my garden, and also holistic therapies. Some days it is harder than others to achieve that sense of calm and ease by simply sitting in nature or floating in the water, and if that is the case, I know I need a little bit of extra support to help me get back to that level where my anxiety is under control enough so that I can benefit from these simple things.

There have often been times where I go for a reiki session or a massage because I know I am really stressed, thinking I will never be able to relax, and ten minutes into the session it’s like my body remembers the ability it has to go into a deep state of calm. Maybe there has been a particular stressor, or something has been on my mind, and it is as if that energy needs to be shifted from my body and sometimes I need someone else to do the body work for me, to get me back to where I was, and back connected with myself. Also when you are particularly stressed or busy, it’s most likely you are operating in a state of “fight or flight” and that there is excess adrenaline and cortisol in your body. Sometimes this needs more than five minutes in the garden or fifteen minutes in the sea.

After a session like this, it’s like I have hit the reset button or had the “top-up” I needed. I find in the days after this it’s easier to switch off my mind, to bring myself to go to the woods or the beach, and over time it becomes a habit again. Whenever I have clients who are new to all of this, I never suggest anything extreme like meditating for an hour a day or cold water exposure.

My favourite thing to recommend, especially to people who say they have no time to dedicate to themselves, is to stand outside on the grass at the end of the day, for 3-5 minutes. Take off your shoes and socks, so your feet can feel the grass and the earth, and take a few deep breaths. If it feels right, maybe even shaking off the day, as if you’re shaking it into the earth. There are scientific studies on the benefit of grounding (bare skin on the earth) that show its impact on our overall health and wellbeing. Next time you feel anxiety or panic start to build up, try this for 5 minutes and see how you feel.

If you find this difficult, to be alone with yourself or to experience quiet and stillness, you may need the help of a therapist. Talk therapy, reiki, massage, reflexology and other therapies can really help you to shift emotions or energy blocks that may be stopping you from being able to switch off and experience inner peace. Please feel free to reach out if you feel you can relate to this article and need some help with managing anxiety and panic, I know all too well how it can impact your life and thats why I love to help people with my therapies and also give them tools that will suit their lifestyle.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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