I used to thrive off of adrenaline. Once upon a time I did really well with a long to-do list and a short deadline. I don’t know when things changed, but things did change. My capacity to hold high levels of stress has greatly diminished, with the added bonus of occasional anxiety attacks. In order to stay as mentally healthy as possible I let my anxiety inform my Witchcraft and vice versa.
There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to dealing with anxiety. I write this from my own perspective only. The biggest lesson anxiety has taught me is to listen to my body. How my body feels greatly impacts my Witchcraft, my health, and my quality of life.
I know that my body can only handle so much stress. I’ve learned that I have to make more space for quiet and stillness in my life. After a full weekend at a workshop, conference, or witchcamp, I have to take time to decompress. If I don’t take the time, my body will force me to take it.
Asking for Help
Honesty is vital to my well-being. If I am feeling off, tired, slow, or unable to handle something I have to ask for help. Sometimes this looks like cancelling appointments, asking a friend if I can vent, or telling my partner I need him to clean the kitchen. Sometimes this looks like laying on the couch watching Netflix. But when I need a break I have to take that break.
Breathing helps. Not always. Not every time. But using breathwork as a tool to calm down my panic has worked on many occasions. The best breathing trick for me is the classic 6-4-8-4. Inhale for six counts, hold for four counts, exhale for eight counts, and hold for four counts, before repeating the process. It works for me because it forces me to breathe and to count. The combination of focused breathing calms my body and the counting calms my mind.
Medication works too. I have a prescription for anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals. I don’t use them often, but just knowing I can use them if I need to brings me comfort. It also required me to talk to a medical professional about what was going on for me…you know asking for help.
I’ve discovered that distraction is an excellent way for me to deal with anxiety. Any activity that requires my focus on something specific or a shift in venue can do wonders for my mental capacity. Doing the laundry, writing a grocery list, playing a board game, going for a walk, or watching reality television are all things that can help distract me from an attack.
You might not know what your keys to getting out of a panic attack might be. It takes time to test different methods and ways of responding. The slow methodical nature of it can be frustrating, but it can lead to major changes and improvement in dealing with anxiety.
What does any of this have to do with Witchcraft? Simple. Magick is the art of changing consciousness at will. When panic or anxiety takes over I have to be able to shift my consciousness. This is easier said than done, but what is important is trying. Life is a work in progress. You have to keep progressing. Self mastery makes you a better, stronger, more capable Witch. And that’s what this is all about, isn’t it?