How familiar does this sound? From the moment you wake up, you’re running around like a hamster on a wheel, trying to juggle your career, family, exercising, going to school, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, socialising, partaking in hobbies, reading, walking the dog, feeding the cat, and the list goes on and on. This is already a difficult task to do for anyone. Still, once you smack Panic Disorder or any type of anxiety disorder on top of that, it suddenly becomes much more challenging to pull off. Maintaining a busy lifestyle with any sort of mental illness can often feel impossible without the right approach and tools.
So that’s what we’re going to be talking about today- how to maintain a busy lifestyle when you have Panic Disorder effectively. I’m writing specifically about Panic Disorder because that’s what I have personal experience with. Still, you can easily apply these tips to other anxiety and mood disorders such as bipolar disorder.
Be Organized & Plan Your Day
The first step to pulling off a busy lifestyle with Panic Disorder is to be incredibly organised and have a set plan for every day. You can do this in whatever way suits you best whether it’s a plan, list-making, a calendar on the wall, a whiteboard, a brain dump, or even just planning out your day in your head.
You can use whatever method works best for you. But the important bit is to be incredibly organised and have your day always planned out.
The reason this type of organisation is vital is that it alleviates anxiety about what’s to come, and it prevents you from feeling scattered. By eliminating any potential for additional stress or anxiety, you’re going to be setting yourself up not to have a panic attack.
On top of that, when you have yourself organised and your days planned out, you feel in control. This feeling of control can positively impact how anxious and stressed out you feel because a lot of times, anxiety can come from the feeling of lack of control and helplessness.
Imagine this: you wake up and have no idea what you should be doing today, or what to do first, or whether you have what you need to do those things.
And then imagine knowing what the day ahead holds, and being organised and prepared enough to tackle it head-on.
Which option would you prefer knowing you have anxiety?
Have Panic Disorder? You Must Plan Breaks!
While we’re on the discussion of planning out your day, make sure to schedule in some breaks into your day.
This does not have to be time consuming or complicated. It can simply be taking deep breaths for 5 minutes, doing a short yoga sequence, getting fresh air, making some tea, or practising mindfulness.
But what’s important here is that you give your mind and body a rest.
Hopping from task to task with no break whatsoever is tiring and stressful on the body and mind. There’s no way around it. And if you keep this stress up for the whole day, you’re inevitably going to crash and have a panic attack or severe anxiety.
But you can prevent that by taking short, thoroughly deserved breaks throughout the day. And you can ensure you take these breaks by planning them into your day.
For example, when I’m on campus running from class to class, I use the short breaks we get during the lecture to listen to a meditation or do some deep breathing on my own. This has helped me in not ending up with a terrible panic attack by the end of the day.
Know Your Triggers
Of course, we don’t always need a trigger to end up getting a panic attack. Random panic attacks are unfortunately harder to prepare for, but the point after this one will go over something you CAN do if you have a lot of random panic attacks.
However, for now, let’s focus on panic attacks that do have triggers. Knowing what your triggers are can be a superpower when it comes to anxiety disorders such as Panic Disorder.
By knowing what’ll likely trigger high anxiety or a panic attack, we can prepare ourselves for it. And how you prepare for it depends on what coping strategies work for you.
I’ll give a personal example. A big trigger for me is public speaking. So, whenever I have a school presentation, I make sure to prepare.
I do this by talking to my professors in advance to let them know that I may have a panic attack, and in that case, I’ll leave during the presentation. This helps me to feel calm as I won’t make a big scene, and the professor won’t deduct marks for me walking out.
I also take my emergency medication before the presentation, I always present first to get it over with, and I bring something to fidget with while I present.
Does this fix or stop my anxiety? No. But by taking every possible precaution and utilising every coping strategy I have, I set myself up for the best possible result, which is: no panic attack.
You can do the same for yourself using techniques that work best for you. Some things to try might include:
- A moment of mindfulness before the activity
- Having a warm beverage
- Inviting a loved one to support you
- Exercising beforehand
- And much more!
Get your free trigger tracker in the healthy mind bundle.
Have an Emergency Plan Ready
Earlier I mentioned that random panic attacks are harder to control and prepare for. However, something that can significantly help you with this problem is an emergency plan.
This emergency plan includes:
- Thoroughly knowing coping techniques, you can use to settle yourself (breathing techniques, grounding exercises, distractions etc.)
- Having an emergency contact or contacts to call if you need support, can’t get home, or need them to take on the task you were doing (your parent, a partner, a friend)
- Keeping a little bag of any medication or supplies, you use when having a panic attack (for example, I have a bag with my emergency Lorazepam medication, a paper bag to help myself breathe, stomach medication as I often get terrible stomachaches when I have a panic attack, and mint gum to open up my airway)
- Having a pre-planned excuse ready in case you need to leave somewhere like school or work
- Going to a safe place you have previously established if you’re able to (the bathroom at work, a neighbour’s house, your bed)
By having an emergency plan already figured out, you’ll be ready in the worst-case scenario that you do end up getting a panic attack.
Sometimes just having a backup like this can help alleviate your anxiety because you know you’re prepared no matter what happens rather than worrying about what you’ll do if you have a panic attack.
What to Take Away
I use all of these tips that I’ve just shared with you to be able to go to school full time, work, do extracurricular activities, run a blog and Youtube channel, do a co-op, maintain social relationships, and take care of myself. All with Panic Disorder.
And in all honesty, I never thought I’d be able to. I couldn’t imagine being able to be productive and busy and successful with my disorder. But here I am.
So what I want you to take away from this post is that you can do what you want, hand-in-hand with a mental illness. It’s just going to take some hard work, patience, and dedication.
I hope you found these tips useful and check out my other content!
- Thriving with Panic Disorder as a Busy Woman (Mum Friendly!) - May 14, 2020
These are such great tips! I’m a mom with mental disorders too and I always need a routine with scheduled breaks. It’s hard to maintain those routines from time-to-time but they definitely help! Thank you for sharing your tips! I’m for sure going to use a few (:
I agree, Alaia. It’s really hard to maintain routines when you have kids, but even having some sort of routine really helps! Thanks for your comment and take care. Eva x