Those who get frequent anxiety attacks know all too well the intense surges of anxiety, fear, and panic that they bring. The overwhelming outbreaks can have both emotional and physical symptoms including chest pain, profusely sweating, heart pounding, difficulty breathing and trembles. Some people may even feel a sense of detachment from their bodies or from reality during an anxiety attack. No matter how extreme the symptoms, each anxiety attack can leave the victim feeling helpless, hopeless, and out of control of the situations they face.
Even if anxiety attacks are common for an individual, because of the intensity and immediacy of them, they can be scary. However, there are ways to control or even stop an anxiety attack when you feel one coming on. If you are a person that suffers from regular anxiety attacks, the following strategies might be helpful to you.
Recognize the Feelings Associated with Anxiety Attacks
Once you start to recognize your physical and emotional state prior to an anxiety attack, you may be able to control a full-blown attack from coming on. By acknowledging your anxiety attack is not a stroke or heart attack, you can remind yourself that what you are feeling is temporary and will pass. You can even tell yourself that you are OK. By taking away impending doom or a feeling that you are dying – both common symptoms of anxiety attacks, you allow yourself to focus on mindfulness techniques to reduce your symptoms.
Regularly Practice Mindfulness
Staying grounded can help you accept the reality around you. Because anxiety attacks often leave one with a feeling of separation from reality and detachment, practicing mindfulness on a daily basis can prepare you to combat a panic attack prior to it approaching. It may even help you from eliminating it from ever happening. When practicing mindfulness, focus on physical sensations around you. Things like feeling the texture of your t-shirt, digging your bare feet into the carpeting, or listening to the birds chirping are all ways to ground yourself into reality. These options also give you something to focus on rather than whatever it is you are feeling anxious about.
Find a Focus Object
Having an object to focus on can be helpful to concentrate on during an anxiety attack. By picking something in clear sight, you make a conscious effort to think about only that item. You will place all your thought and attention on it during an anxiety attack. For example, you may notice that a picture hanging in the room is slightly crooked, a stain on the carpet, an ant crawling on the sidewalk, or the second hand on a clock. It does not matter what the object is, the point is to focus your energy on something so your feelings and unwelcome symptoms of anxiety subside.
Practice Deep Breathing
Hyperventilating is a common symptom of anxiety attacks which is why regularly practicing deep breathing may help to reduce symptoms when an attack strikes. There are various apps and even wearable technology that can help with breathing, but simply controlling and counting your breath can also do the trick. If you are able to focus and control the way you breathe, you are much less likely to begin hyperventilating and give in to other symptoms. To practice deep breathing, simply focus on breathing in through your mouth. Let the air fill your chest calmly and slowly. Then gradually let the air out. As you do this, count to four, then hold your breath for one second, and slowly let out the breath for another four seconds.
Keep Your Eyes Shut
Anxiety attacks can be even more overwhelming when your senses are overloaded. To avoid these types of triggers, keep your eyes closed to reduce the stimuli of the environment around you. Doing so will help block out unnecessary excitement and let you focus on deep breathing.
Use Techniques to Relax Your Muscles
Similar to deep breathing, using muscle relaxation techniques can keep your body from tensing up during an anxiety attack. Practicing these techniques can help control your anxiety and your body’s response to it. By consciously focusing on each muscle starting with your toes or fingers and then moving all the way through the body, you will feel more relaxed regardless of the stressful or anxious situation.
Repeat a Mantra Internally
Repeating a mantra as you close your eyes and focus on your breathing can be reassuring and relaxing. It can also provide you with something to hold onto when you get extreme anxiety. Keeping your mantra simple with just a few words is key. Something like, “I am fine” or “this too shall pass” can fill your head will positivity rather than impending doom.
Use Essential Oils
Essential oils, particularly lavender, can be stress-relieving and soothing. If you are prone to anxiety attacks, keep essential oils on hand to put your mind at ease when anxiety strikes. You may also want to try controlling attacks by drinking lavender tea or chamomile tea. You may find these to be comforting and calming.
Picture Your Happy Place
Mentally taking yourself out of the situation by picturing a more pleasant place you would rather be can help control your anxiety attacks. Think of your favorite place in the world or a much more relaxing place than the location where you currently are. Perhaps it is a beach at sunset, a walk through the forest, or the mountains. Wherever your happy place is, close your eyes and picture yourself there. Focus and imagine this in as much detail as possible.
Go for a Walk
When you feel anxiety coming on, you may find that physically removing yourself from your current location can help keep it under control. Go for a light walk to help get the blood flowing. The extra blood pumping through your veins can spark endorphins and improve your mood. Note: if you are truly hyperventilating than you should not get up and walk. Be sure to catch your breath before doing any physical activity even leisurely walking.
Seek Professional Help
Whether they happen frequently or just once in a while, anxiety attacks can be extremely scary. You deserve to live a life free of the pain and suffering they cause. Do not be afraid to ask for help. A good local mental health professional as well as online counseling provider can help you get the professional treatment you need to tackle your anxiety and the difficult emotions that come with them. You deserve to feel better.