Anxiety in Public—Avoiding the Spotlight

Anxiety in Public - Avoiding the Spotlight

When my anxiety first hit, I would have anxiety attacks in public frequently. In church, youth group, grocery stores, school, family events, and so on. If you know anything about panic attacks, you know it is not something you want to happen in public. I’ll give you brief overview: shaking, rapid breathing, suffocating feeling, crying, and sweating. Definitely not a pleasant ordeal, especially not in public where anyone can see it.

That said, panic attacks are like a wild mustang—they take work and practice to tame. So what do you do to prevent or tame or anxiety attacks when you are in public? Here are some key practices to help equip you for panic attacks.

Strengthening against panic attacks.

  1. Have a support person with you.

    Honestly, this one probably helped me the most; having someone to stand by me and talk me down in those high stress and fearful moments was one of the most reassuring things I have experienced. If you don’t have a support person already, I would totally suggest finding one.

  2. Don’t stop what you are doing.

    When I stop what I’m doing in the middle of an anxiety attack, it overwhelms me way quicker because my thoughts are left to simply focus on what is happening in my mind and how I am feeling.

  3. Practice grounding.

    Grounding is the technique where you observe your setting and list off what you see, what you hear, what you feel (physically with your hands and feet), and what you smell. This helps to keep you in reality when your mind is pumping adrenaline through your veins telling you that you have reason to be afraid.

  4. Breathe.

    In a panic attack it’s easy to hyperventilate, therefore you need to force yourself to breathe right. A technique I learned was triangle breathing; inhale for four seconds, hold for four, and exhale for four.

  5. Point focus.

    Similar to grounding, you focus in on one object and describe in every way possible (ex: there’s a notebook, it’s rectangular, it’s pink, its sparkly, it’s thick…).

  6. Know the exits.

    If it comes to the point that you need to get away from the public eye and have a melt down, you want to know where the best escape is.

Living with anxiety is definitely not fun or easy, but it is possible. I thought I would never get past the anxiety and would never get a grip on the attacks, but I did. It took time and patience with myself and adjustments in my lifestyle. You have to be willing to commit to doing what it takes to get better. You also need to believe in yourself; that means no self-criticism or condemnation when you slip up or fall apart, but instead working as hard as you can to stay positive. I know it sounds daunting and hard, but you are totally capable of it. Believe me, if I can do it, so can you.

That’s all for now! Do you have any other techniques for surviving anxiety attacks in public? Please share!


Anxiety in Public - Avoiding the SpotlightAbout the Author: Lara Fraser

Hey! My name is Lara Fraser (soon to be Lara d’Entremont). I am currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Ministry majoring in Christian Counselling. With these courses I hope to one day be working at a human trafficking rescue centre helping teen girls recover from their awful experiences. I enjoy writing, reading, blogging, riding horses, and pilates. I have a passion for helping others (especially teens) by sharing my story and experiences. You can find my blog at lightscameraanxiety.ca and my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lcanxiety/ 

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When our kids or teens are struggling, it can be hard to know what they need. It can also be hard for them to say. It can be this way for all of us - we don't always know what we need from the people around us. It might be space, or distraction, or silence, or maybe acknowledging and being there is enough. Sometimes we might need to know that the people we love aren't taking our need for space, or our confusion or anger or sadness personally, and that they are still there within reach.
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What can be easier is thinking about what other people might need. Asking this when they are calm can invite a different perspective and can give you some insight into what they need to hear when they are going through similar. Don't worry if you just get a shrug, or a disheartened, 'I don't know'. They don't need to know, and neither do we. The question in itself might be enough to open a new way through any sense of 'stuckness' or helplessness they might be feeling.
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#parenthood #parenting #positiveparenting #parentingtips #childdevelopment #parentingadvice #parentingtip #mindfulparenting #positiveparentingtips #neurodevelopment #parentingteens
Give them space to talk but you don’t need to fix anything. You’ll want to, but the answers are in them, not us. Sometimes the answer will be to feel it out, or push for change, or feel the futility of it all so the feeling can let go, knowing it’s done it’s job - it’s recruited support, or raised awareness that something isn’t right.

Sometimes the feelings might be seismic but the words might be gone for a while. That’s okay too. Do they want to start with whatever words are there? Or talk about something else? Or go for a walk with you? Watch a movie with you? Or do a spontaneous, unnecessary drive thru with you just because you can - no words, no need to explain - just you and them and car music for the next 20 minutes. 

The more you can validate what they’re feeling (maybe, ‘Today was big for you wasn’t it’) and give them space to feel, the more they can feel the feeling, understand the need that’s fuelling it, and experiment with ways to deal with it. Sometimes, ‘dealing with it’ might mean acknowledging that there is something that feels big or important and a little out of reach right now, and feeling the fullness and futility of that. 

Part of building resilience is recognising that some days are rubbish, and that sometimes those days last for longer than they should, but we get through. First we feel floored, then we feel stuck, then we shift because the only choices we have we have are to stay down or move, even when moving hurts. Then, eventually we adjust - either ourselves, the problem, or to a new ‘is’. But the learning comes from experience.

I wish our kids never felt pain, but we don’t get to decide that. We don’t get to decide how our children grow, but we do get to decide how much space and support we give them for this growth. We can love them through it but we can’t love them out of it. I wish we could but we can’t.

So instead of feeling the need to silence their pain, make space for it. In the end we have no choice. Sometimes all the love in the world won’t be enough to put the wrong things right, but it can help them feel held while they move through the pain enough to find their out breath, and the strength that comes with that.♥️
Speaking to the courage that is coming to life inside them helps to bring it close enough for them to touch, and to imagine, and to step into, even if doesn’t feel real for them yet. It will become them soon enough but until then, we can help them see what we see - a brave, strong, flight-ready child who just might not realise it yet. ‘I know how brave you are.’ ‘I love that you make hard decisions sometimes, even when it would be easier to do the other thing.’ ‘You might not feel brave, but I know what it means to you to be doing this. Trust me – you are one of the bravest people I know.’
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 #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #parentingtip #childdevelopment #braindevelopment #mindfulparenting #parentingtips #parentingadvice
So often, our children will look to us for signs of whether they are brave enough, strong enough, good enough. Let your belief in them be so big, that it spills out of you and over to them and forms the path between them and their mountain. And then, let them know that the outcome doesn't matter. What matters is that they believe in themselves enough to try. 

Their belief in themselves might take time to grow, and that's okay. In the meantime, let them know you believe in them enough for both of you. Try, ‘I know this feels big and I know you can do it. What is one small step you can take? I’m right here with you.’♥️
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 #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #parentingtip #childdevelopment #braindevelopment #mindfulparenting
Anxiety will tell our kiddos a deficiency story. It will focus them on what they can't do and turn them away from what they can. We know they are braver, stronger, and more powerful than they could ever think they are. We know that for certain because we’ve seen it before. We’ve seen them so held by anxiety, and we’ve seen them move through - not every time but enough times to know that they can. Even when those steps through are small and awkward and uncertain, they are brave. Because that’s how courage works. It’s fragile and strong, uncertain and powerful. We know that that about courage and we know that about them. 

Our job as their important adults is to give them the experiences that will help them know it too. This doesn't have to happen in big leaps. Little steps are enough, as long as they are forward. 

When their anxiety has them focused on what they can't do, focus them on what they can. By doing this, we are aligning with their capacity for brave, and bringing it into the light. 

Anxiety will have them believing that there are only two options - all or nothing; to do or not to do. So let's introduce a third. Let's invite them into the grey. This is where brave, bold beautiful things are built, one tiny step at a time. So what does this look like? It looks like one tiny step at a time. The steps can be so small at first - it doesn't matter how big they are, as long as they are forward. 
If they can't stay for the whole of camp, how much can they stay for?
If they can't do the whole swimming lesson on their own, how much can they do?
If they can't sleep all night in their own bed, how long can they sleep there for?
If they can't do the exam on their own, what can they do?
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When we do this, we align with their brave, and gently help it rise, little bit, by little bit. We give them the experiences they need to know that even when they feel anxious, they can do brave, and even when they feel fragile they are powerful.

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