I have suffered from anxiety on different levels for the past 7 years. My anxiety was at an all-time high 6 years ago when I experienced my first panic attack. During this attack, I 100% believed I was going to die of a heart attack. I was ultimately able to talk myself down, but what I didn’t know was, this would only be my first of many, many panic attacks to come.
Panic and fear is a vicious circle, and sometimes you feel you can’t get out. I started realizing I was so anxious about having another panic attack that I was giving myself panic attacks.
It feels freeing to say that I have not experienced a panic attack in years. And although I still deal with anxiety from time to time, I can’t remember the last time it escalated to full-blown panic. I have gathered tools that helped with my anxiety over the years, and the act of repeating mantras to myself has been one of the most powerful.
A mantra is essentially a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself either out loud or in your head. I love the history and depth of mantras, but I also like how you can individualize them for yourself and make them your own.
Below are the top 6 mantras that helped me with my anxiety and panic.
You are exactly where you are meant to be
A lot of my anxiety comes from being unsure of my direction in life. I think this is a pretty common worry, and I have dealt with it through many stages of life. When I repeat “you are exactly where you are meant to be” to myself, I am reminding myself that even if life isn’t going exactly as planned (or when I have no plan) that right now is all that matters. Where I am right now, is what is meant to be.
This too shall pass
This is a pretty common mantra when it comes to anxiety relief, but I think it’s so common because it works. It’s nice to remind yourself that you have overcome things in your past and what you are going through right now will also be in your past at some point. This helps me bring into perspective that most of the time my current worry will not be a worry of mine five years from now.
I accept these feelings (come on panic, do your worst)
I would give this mantra (or versions like it) the most credit for helping me get over panic attacks. More specifically, getting over the fear of having a panic attack which resulted in fewer panic attacks. If you’ve ever suffered from a panic attack, you understand the feeling you get when you feel one starting. For so long I would fight this feeling and tell myself no, I was not going to have a panic attack. I didn’t know that me fighting this feeling was actually prolonging it. Once I learned to accept the increased heart rate, accept the lightheadedness, accept the shortness of breath, I no longer feared the worst-case scenario. I essentially was telling myself that I had been here before and nothing bad had happened. I did not die of a heart attack. I had never fainted. I kept breathing. It was so empowering to feel the panic start and to tell it to “Bring it! Show me what you’ve got! Do your worst!”. I was no longer scared. Frequently I found myself asking “what if this one is different? What if THIS time I AM having a heart attack.” The more I practiced accepting the panic, the less those questions appeared.
I am breathing in; I am breathing out
When reciting this mantra I am doing as I say. I take a deep breath in while saying, “I am breathing in,” and take a deep breath out while saying, “I am breathing out.” I find this mantra helps bring me back to my breath and take deeper breaths. This, in turn, slows my racing heart and calms me down. I find myself often doing this while driving or laying in bed. My mind is always racing with thoughts, and I tend to do extra thinking while driving and trying to go to sleep. Giving myself these words to say and breath to focus on, blocks out all of the other thoughts rushing through.
All is well
I love how simple this mantra is. I am continually finding myself wrapped up in worry or “what-if’s” and these three simple words help me realize how much is going well. Gratitude played a significant role in helping with my anxiety, and sometimes I need to remind myself of that. All IS well.
I am not special
This one probably sounds a little weird and pretty negative, but it’s been the most influential mantra when it comes to worries about my health. Ever since losing my dad to a heart attack I am guilty of thinking worst-case scenarios with my health and the health of loved ones. The majority of my panic attacks are related to medical issues I thought I had, and this could be anything from thinking I was dying of a heart attack to that one time I was pretty positive I was going blind in my right eye. Keep in mind, when I was suffering from panic attacks I was 20 – 22 so the actual chances of any of these things happening was pretty low. Thankfully, I had my husband (then boyfriend) to bring me back to reality. The best advice he gave me was that I was not special. This now probably sounds even worse coming from him, but he meant it in the best way. He was basically telling me that there was not going to be a Grey’s Anatomy episode about my life and some crazy health issue I had. When I find myself worried over a health concern, I simply repeat “I am not special” and it helps brings me down off my cloud back to reality.
Mantras can be pretty powerful and can change your way of thinking. In addition to dealing with anxiety, I use mantras for motivation, boosting self-confidence, staying positive, and for having gratitude. Whether I write my mantras down on my calendar, on a sticky note on my mirror or in my notes app on my phone, I find it helpful to see them for constant reminders.