During an anxiety or panic attack, our imagination often runs away with us. We can imagine the most awful things are about to happen or are unfolding around us.
One of the distraction techniques I use to try and regain control during the attack is to look at photos I have saved on my phone specifically for during a panic attack.
Many of these images are simply saved off the internet or are of my family, my friends and my pet.
I stare at a single image and imagine myself standing in front of the scene.
For example, I have a photo that I took of my husband and son standing in the waves on the beach.
When I look at the photograph I try and imagine what the weather feels like, what the sun feels like on my arms.
I try and hear the sound of the waves, hear their repetitive rhythm on the beach. I try and remember that sound so that I can exhale every time the wave reaches my son’s toes.
I try and hear whether there are other families on the beach. Can I hear laughter?
The longer I look at the photograph the more detail I try and add to my imagination. Am I wearing shoes or can I feel the sand under my feet? Am I standing or am I sitting?
The longer I am able to focus on the positive aspects of that image, the more I am able to distract myself from the panic and step back into my safe zone.
I also find looking at images of sunrise to be incredibly calming, they help me believe that I will look at the sunrise tomorrow, that I can make it through this panic attack. It helps me remember that this is just panic or anxiety.