If you suffer from anxiety attacks, you probably feel as though there is nothing worse than the gripping fear, emotional turmoil, and physical symptoms that make you feel helpless and out of control. When you start to feel like this, try using one or more of the following tips for calming yourself down and getting through your next anxiety attack.
Take Slow, Deep Breaths Using Your Stomach
When you have an anxiety attack, one of the ways your body reacts is by taking quick, shallow breaths that are primarily located in the top portion of your lungs. This type of breathing can make you feel as though you cannot breathe, which only increases your anxiety levels.
If you start having an anxiety attack, take a moment to concentrate on your breathing. Take slow, deep breaths by inhaling into your stomach. Each breath in, make your stomach rise by taking in as much air as possible.
Breathing this way triggers diaphragmatic breathing, which leads to deeper breaths, which helps slow your heart rate and calm yourself down. It also gives you something else to focus on rather than your anxiety, helping to shorten the duration of the attack.
Talk to Yourself Out Loud
During an anxiety attack, your mind can feel as though it is going a mile a minute. Your thoughts start to become a jumbled mess of information and negative feelings that only serve to increase your feelings of fear and helplessness.
When you notice that your thoughts are taking a dark turn, talk to yourself. Say small affirmations to yourself about how things are not as bad as they seem and how these feelings will soon go away.
Make sure you say these things out loud. Not only does thinking and hearing the words help reinforce their meaning, but it gets you out of your own head so that you are not concentrating on your symptoms.
If you are surrounded by people and feel too embarrassed to talk out loud to yourself, try whispering under your breath. Or, find an excuse to go to the restroom or step outside where you can feel free to verbally calm yourself down.
Keep Sugar-Free Gum With You
Another way you can get through an anxiety attack is to always carry a pack of sugar-free gum with you so that you can start chewing a piece as soon as you start having symptoms. Since anxiety attacks trigger your instinctual fight-or-flight response, you will start feeling a surge of nervous energy.
When you chew gum, some of this energy is focused on a simple task. When you use the gum, chew it slowly, counting each bite you take. Counting the bites helps you to focus on a simple numerical task that gets your mind off of your anxiety.
Take a Walk Outside
If you have more energy than chewing gum can alleviate, take a walk outside. If possible, walk as fast as you can to burn up the energy.
While you are walking, do not focus on any problems or your symptoms. Instead, look around at the trees or flowers, finding words to describe them. Or, if you do not feel like gazing at nature, simply start counting your steps. Either of these can help pull you out of your thoughts and become less focused on them and your anxiousness.
The above tips are only a few things you can do to help you get through an anxiety attack, especially when you first start feeling symptoms. If you feel you need more advice or find that your attacks are becoming more frequent, make an appointment with an anxiety therapist so that together you can pinpoint your attack triggers, as well as come up with an individualized plan for coping with the anxiety.
When I first started understanding my anxiety, I realized that I wasn't capable of taking care of the issue on my own. Instead of trying to quietly navigate my condition, I decided to start working towards understanding the counseling process. I focused on finding the right counselor, and then I worked hard in therapy day in and day out. This blog is all about understanding how counseling can help, because I know how much it helped me. You never know, by talking with the right person and tackling your issues head-on, you might be able to enjoy a more fulfilling life.