If you’re like me and cannot tolerate too much anticipatory anxiety, you’ll want to keep these tips in mind.
At one point, I screamed at the top of my lungs!! The music was excellent and also happened to be really loud at the point of my outburst. Before leaving my seat, I apologized to my movie-neighbor for talking and being loud 😂
- Go with someone safe.
Plan to watch the movie with someone who is aware of your ‘freak-out-ability’ and is known for being supportive when you need to gather yourself.
My boyfriend actually apologized for taking me to see the film. He can’t resist a flick with 90% or higher rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Bless his heart.
Still, I usually watch the trailers beforehand. I had no clue what was about to happen. #TheExaggeratedStartleResponseWasReal #KnowledgeIsPower
- Take slow breaths from your belly.
Breathing slowly helps recalibrate the body. Look down at your belly to see if you can notice it inflating when you inhale and deflating as you exhale. Basically, visualize that you’re blowing up a balloon. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
When you suddenly notice that you’re holding your breath or breathing too fast, BREATHE slowly.
- Simmer down with mindfulness.
Right after the movie, give yourself a moment to decompress before carrying on with your schedule. There’s a risk of over-stimulation and possibly a more intense panic situation. Take your time.
Treat the obligatory post-movie bathroom trip as a mindfulness/intentional activity. Focus your attention on the environment to help reduce anxiety.
For instance, while you’re in the bathroom, NOTICE the number of stalls, the color of the floor tiles, the texture of the tissue, the way your clothes feel on your body, the sound of the flushing toilet, the color and scent of the soap, the design of sink and countertop, the temperature of the soap and water, the way the water sounds and how it feels on your hands, the texture of the paper towels, the size and color of the trash can, and so on.
Remember, the emotional tide will subside. Ride the wave, knowing that it will peak and then decline. As it always does. You cannot stop the waves from rolling; however, you can use strategies to help you cope during and after the experience.
- Talk about it.
Talk with your movie mate(s) about your experience at the theater. #Debrief
- Channel your energy.
Do something safe/legal/ethical that reliably helps you process your emotions while in a less stimulating environment. I turned my attention toward writing a note on my phone during the drive home. I was compelled to draft a warning for folks like me, the easily startled.
Bonus (because I <3 you): Think “Moderation after Emotional Activation.”
Be sure to monitor your alcohol (and food) intake. If you struggle with drinking/eating problems, you might try a non-alcoholic beverage and/or healthy food item and focus more on other methods of dealing with your emotions.
The idea is to address your emotions using safe/approach strategies, rather than avoidance strategies. Safe/approach Strategies enable you to look at and deal with your emotions in the here-and-now. They also foster both short-term and long-term success.
Attempting to drown out emotions with alcohol or food, does not equate to safe/approach coping, does not set you up for successful coping in the future, and is only somewhat helpful in the short-term due to impending backlash from lack of self-care. The backlash of suppressed emotions can be brutal. Because they build up and erupt, often when you least expect it.
Let me know if you had a similar experience…freaking out during and/or after this or another movie.