Kevin Love's 4 Go-To Tips When He Feels Panic Taking Over
When we think of at-risk populations during COVID-19, those who struggle with mental health may not be front of mind. But it's an important factor to think about when discussing the global pandemic, as the uncertainty and hysteria around the virus (not to mention the lack of social interaction) can create fertile breeding ground for anxiety, depression, and a host of other mental health concerns.
A mental health issue can be rather debilitating—it certainly was for five-time NBA all-star Kevin Love, who experienced his first panic attack in the middle of a game.
"I wasn't feeling right, after a timeout—I wasn't really absorbing what was going on. Everything in my head and in my body... It seemed like I was having a heart attack. I was in sheer panic, and it was so public," he shares with me on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast.
While you might not experience a bout of panic in front of 20,000 people like Love did, you may feel a bit more anxiety-ridden of late. Rather than fearing those triggers, keep Love's four go-to tips in mind the next time you feel a panic attack coming on. When you notice those familiar feelings start to bubble up, chances are, you'll be more prepared.
1. Remember, you're not alone.
"The first thing is realizing that it's normal to feel this way," explains Love. "It can be tough to realize so many people are suffering and going through a lot of pain, but on the other side, it's really powerful knowing you're not alone or isolated." It's especially important now, as feelings of isolation may be magnified when we're told to stay home and minimize human contact.
Even if you don't experience anxiety or depression, per se, we're all connected to mental health struggles somehow. "Whether you experience it or not, it's only an arm's length away," Love says. "Mental health issues are either in your family or not yet. This thing doesn't discriminate."
That's why when certain anxiety triggers arise, Love reminds himself that he is not alone—other people are probably experiencing similar emotions. Feeling connected to others in this way can ultimately overpower feelings of anxiety, even when you may be facing it head-on.
2. Remove yourself from the situation.
When Love had his first panic attack during a game, he ended up running to the locker room and away from the public eye. Now, he's found that removing himself from the situation (both physically and emotionally) can help calm his racing thoughts.
"I step outside and take a break to center my thoughts," he says. Other times, he may need to breathe and foam roll for a few minutes. He also tells me that he sets his phone aside (even putting it on airplane mode) and goes outside to work out or play basketball to keep his mind off of it.
Like Love, find whatever you can do in that moment to keep your mind from spiraling toward that all-too-familiar abyss of anxiousness—whether you have to physically move your body or not.
3. Cool down—literally.
"Sometimes I can run extremely hot," Love notes. "So I put an ice pack on my wrist or on the back of my neck, or I drink a really cold glass of water. It seems so simple, but for me it's something that works really well."
Symptoms of panic can look different for everyone—sometimes you may feel sick or nauseous, while other times you may get sweaty or clammy. You may even feel short of breath. Noticing these symptoms from the get-go can be quite helpful, so you can create a plan of action if you feel yourself slipping into panic mode.
4. Live your life outwardly.
According to Love, you shouldn't keep your anxiety buried inside the pit of your stomach. Instead, check in with yourself (and with others, for that matter), and speak about what's on your mind, how you're feeling. In other words, vulnerability can be powerful.
"Nothing haunts us like the things we don't say, so try to live life outwardly," Love states. "Any effort to pay it forward or speak your truth is going to make a big difference and is worth it. It's going to help."
Whether you confide in a friend or reach out to a colleague, be open and honest about your struggles with your mental health. After all, it affects everybody one way or another—whether you struggle personally or witness a family member in distress. According to Love, checking in with yourself and others amid the coronavirus is one way to ensure we stay physically healthy: "This is a fight. When we talk about flattening the curve, this is something we need to do for our health."