Susy Markoe Schieffelin of The Copper Vessel is a Los Angeles-based sound healer, reiki master, yoga and meditation teacher. Inspired by her own healing journey, she uses these modalities to help others transform their lives and find healing from within. When she’s not leading restorative crystal alchemy sound bath ceremonies, Susy works her healing magic as a sobriety coach. She’s deeply vocal about her own path to sobriety, journey with alopecia, and struggles with social anxiety and panic attacks. Her courage encourages us to brave the blocks that stand in the way of living our most radiant lives. We’re sharing Susy’s seven powerful techniques to off-set anxiety and panic attacks that are working for us…
When I was younger, I experienced crippling social anxiety. For most of my life I’ve suffered from an autoimmune condition called alopecia, which causes my hair to fall out at random. When I was a teenager, I would be anxious that someone would notice my bald patches or my wig in every single social situation. I was terrified that someone would learn my secret. In my adolescence, I turned to alcohol to numb my social anxiety. Unsurprising, this led to a vicious cycle of panic and numbing.
You don’t have to have a condition to experience social panic. In fact, most people experience social anxiety in some capacity. It looks something like this: You’re out for the night with your friends and everything is going fine. Suddenly, your mind starts to race, your palms become sweaty, and your heart pounds in your chest. Your head starts to spin, your breathing becomes strained, and a sense of panic begins to arise.
7 Effective Ways To Mitigate Social Anxiety + Panic
Turning to alcohol or other external crutches to feel ‘more comfortable’ in social settings is a pretty common way to try to tame these symptoms, but what if I told you that you don’t need to turn outside of yourself or run away to ease your anxiety? Since dedicating my life to guiding others down a path of self-empowerment, I have found many powerful tools for mitigating panic and anxiety in public.
Chant a mantra | Chanting a mantra in your head can help halt a spin of anxious and negative thoughts and turn those thoughts into positive ones. My favorite mantras for mitigating panic attacks are: I am okay or I am safe.
Hum | Humming is like giving yourself an internal sound bath. This practice will shift your vibration from one of frantic anxiety into one of peace and calm.
Take deep breaths | In my lineage of yoga, we believe that if you are able to control your breath, you can control your life. Try this simple breathing meditation: Inhale for 4 counts, hold the breath for 4 counts and exhale for 4 counts.
Take a break | Excuse yourself from the situation and head outside, if you can. Take a walk around the block and breathe in the fresh air. Taking off your shoes and feeling the earth beneath your toes can help you feel safe and grounded.
Practice self-love | Before you head into a social situation, send yourself some love. Remind yourself of all of the things that make you great and lovable and take a few moments to truly appreciate these things about yourself.
Observe sensations in your body | Notice where you feel sensations and breathe into them. Panic will often manifest as a tightness in the chest or a feeling of disconnection. Don’t judge the feelings, just notice them and allow them to pass.
Phone a friend | Reach out to someone you know and trust, like a friend or therapist, who can support you in reframing the situation and bring you back to a safe and centered place.
I would recommend trying each of these practices and find what works best for you. You can even think of it as a game. Each time you walk into a social situation, you can try a new practice and see if it works. If you do end up feeling panicked, don’t beat yourself up about it. Take what you learned and resolve to do it a bit differently the next time. Once you find a panic mitigating tool that fits, you can walk into every social situation prepared for almost anything.