That thing you stop doing first when you finally admit that panic attacks, anxiety, and / or depression has you by your collar and is strangling you is generally the thing you love to do and often makes you feel better. I speak from experience.
When I start feeling overwhelmed and particularly anxious and prone to panic, the first thing that stops for me is working out. The close second is crochet. I’m not some buff human. I’ve worked out since late 2018, nothing crazy….usually 30ish minutes a day (and not every day; I started with small, sustainable changes because of a litany of heart and cardiovascular issues at a relatively young age and by the time I was 40, I was fucking over it).
I learned that while I don’t just loooveeee to exercise, not only did it allow me to no longer be a cardiology patient, it lessened my overall anxiety and panic. I had less brain fog. I could focus better. After exercising, I am always in a better mood. I just felt better overall.
But…when I wake up and don’t know what’s wrong (thanks, C-PTSD) and it just keeps growing and growing, I start to feel overwhelmed and pressed for time. That’s generally (when I’m in my regular frame of mind) a stupid thought (I work hard to always show myself compassion). I have full control over my own schedule. I’m self-employed and work from home.
The first thing to go, though, is the very thing that I know makes me feel better: working out. My justification? I don’t have time. I have too much to do. I don’t feel like it. And so I set about my to-do list and just keep adding to it. Days could pass before I finally workout. By then, of course, the internal struggle is real and I wish I could shake it…and then I hear something or read something that reminds me how exercise has the capacity to change how we feel. The anxiety kicks back up because then I’m upset I let myself skip it…but I get up and do it anyway…because it is the very medicine to fix it. It rights my thoughts and I can get back to what I was doing, be more productive, and feel better.
Related: How to Be Enough in the Moment
Exercise might not be the medicine for you (although I highly recommend you give it a go…even a walk or going outside or yoga or meditation can be beneficial and there are a lot of free options – if you are reading this online, you can access those free options). Whatever that thing is that you give up first, try it if it is good for you.