From panic attacks to wellness routines
As a child, nobody told me how to soothe my nervous system when I was upset. I guess it’s something we all learn to do in our own way (with more or less guidance from our parents or caregivers).
There were many instances during my childhood in which I would feel deeply sad, not knowing what else to do but cry until I had a complete emotional release. My mom and sister would make jokes about my face when I was crying too much, trying to cheer me up of course. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect as I didn’t feel my emotions were validated enough…
Children process emotions in different ways and I suppose I was more sensitive than others. I’d worry a lot, questioning life from a very early age (I guess this is what allows me now to have more empathy for my own daughter’s emotional outbursts).
I was about 7 years old when I started suffering from panic attacks. I didn’t like to stay alone at night, especially when my older sister went out to parties and left me alone in the bedroom we used to share. I would have panic attacks, would shiver and sweat, had nightmares and all until she came back hours later and went to sleep as if nothing had happened to me. I don’t know why I felt so insecure at that age, and I had to deal with it by myself to avoid upsetting my parents for “nothing”.
Over the years I learned that I could write about my emotions as a way of coping. I always kept a journal beside my bed and found journaling a therapeutic way of releasing unprocessed thoughts and emotions. I loved reading and soon learned that crying is ok and that it’s just a temporary emotional state, like excitement, anger, etc. I learned to become aware of my change of moods, to be more present, to observe, and especially, to breathe properly.
It took me about 15 years to actually begin understanding the power of self-awareness and mindfulness; and I’m still learning; reminding my body and mind that everything it’s ok if I choose to perceive it that way. I like to practice yoga as a way of coping and releasing stress, but that’s not the only way of doing it. It’s also good to incorporate as many wellness activities as possible into our daily routines. To put self-care at the top of our priorities and goals list.
According to The National Wellness Institute wellness is a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.
“Wellness matters. Wellness matters because everything we do and every emotion we feel relates to our well-being. In turn, our well-being directly affects our actions and emotions. It’s an ongoing circle. Therefore, it is important for everyone to achieve optimal wellness in order to subdue stress, reduce the risk of illness, and ensure positive interactions.” Student Health and Counseling Services, UCDavis
Time has passed and even as an adult I tend to get depressed or anxious about things I can’t control, however, I’ve learned to use my own “wellness toolkit” – From yoga stretches to meditation and journaling. I’ve found various ways to escape from my own ego traps… to acknowledge emotions in the present moment and then letting them go through mindful deep breaths and other wellness activities.