It’s only recently that I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ve dealt with panic episodes since I was a little girl. If you have ever experienced one of these moments (that seem like forever), you know the drill:
- Clammy feeling
- Sweaty armpits
- Racing heart
- Feeling of choking or not being able to swallow
- Inability to concentrate
- Feeling like you’re trapped
In short, it feels like you’re either having a heart attack or are going to die. It is truly awful.
We all have certain triggers. Mine is feeling like I’m in a situation that I can’t escape – or at least where it would be embarrassing to leave. This semester in nursing school, I have experienced more panic episodes during exams. One of them early in the semester was the worst I had experienced in a long time.
After that, I knew I had to do something. I refuse to be a victim to my Type A personality and propensity to be anxious. So of course, I turned to essential oils and other natural solutions. Here are my eight steps to avoiding panic episodes during exams (or any time you might be triggered).
Get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before the exam
It is much easier to panic when you’re sleep deprived. Yes, I know following this step will mean no cramming the night before….but does that last-minute cramming REALLY help you get a better grade? It’s better to have more sleep so that you can think critically.
Nursing students seem to run on caffeine, but trust me on this one: if you get 8 hours of sleep, you won’t need coffee! And the reasoning for this step goes deeper: caffeine can cause the jitters. So save your cup of java as something to look forward to after the exam.
Eat a balanced meal of protein, carbs, and fats
Yup, even for breakfast! Our brains need healthy nutrition in order to function properly. Binging on sugar or refined carbs before a test will be detrimental. If you feel too nervous to eat, then make yourself a healthy smoothie using a high-quality protein powder, fat like coconut oil, and berries for good carbs.
Diffuse calming essential oils in your home before leaving for the exam
There are so many calming essential oil choices, so it really comes down to your personal preference. Lavender is a standard go-to, but if you don’t like floral, petitgrain is a perfect substitution. Elevation, the “joyful” blend from doTERRA, is uplifting and calming. Any of the citrus oils will bring a smile to your face, too!
Take a “Chill Pill”
Many of doTERRA’s essential oils can be safely taken internally, and petitgrain is one of them. It can support healthy cardiovascular function and relaxes smooth muscle. It’s easy to take internally: fill an empty vegetable capsule with 2-3 drops of petitgrain and top it off with extra-virgin olive oil. Take this about 30 minutes before the exam starts.
Eat a banana on the way to the exam or 15 minutes before
It’s pretty common knowledge that bananas can be calming, but how many of us actually remember that fact? So, I’m reminding you here. ;) Plus, they are a fairly easy food to eat, so it could serve as a healthy carb in your balanced pre-exam meal.
Make a rollerball bottle of the “Extreme Calming Blend”
If there was ever a “magic bullet” for panic episodes, THIS is IT! After that bad episode I had early in the semester, I discovered this blend from Jackie Ritz, The Paleo Mama. I used it during my next exam and was able to successfully stop the panic in its tracks! Here’s the recipe:
Before the exam, apply this blend to your pulse points – wrists, temples, and solar plexus – and also inhale the aroma. Keep the bottle on your desk and apply topically/smell it whenever you feel yourself getting stressed.
Bring a soothing drink to sip on
Make sure this is non-caffeinated and low-sugar! If you are extremely sensitive to caffeine like I am, do not bring even decaf coffee or tea – these can still cause the jitters. One of my favorite herbal teas is a rooibos blend that I combine with coconut oil, On Guard, and lemon essential oils.
Being forearmed and prepared will go a long way to warding off panic episodes. Following these steps isn’t a guarantee that they will stop forever, but they do GREATLY increase your chances of remaining calm.
Do you have any tips on avoiding panicky feelings? Share in the comments!
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