Anxiety attacks are an intense outpouring of panic, fear, or worry. They can become overwhelming, and they can also have physical and emotional symptoms. People who experience this can have a hard time breathing, copiously sweating, shuddering, and feel their hearts rushing.
They can also happen suddenly, and they can be overpowering. So knowing what you should do when it happens can lessen an attack’s seriousness or help prevent them altogether. Aside from consulting a psychiatrist and doing counseling, you can follow these steps to reduce anxiety.
Ways To Avoid Anxiety Episode
Anxiety attacks can cause a wide range of signs. The physical symptoms may include:
- Rapid breathing
- Racing heartbeat
Some of the emotional symptoms may include:
- An intense and recurring feeling of distress
- Experiencing dread and worry
- A Sense of impending tragedy
Here are 13 ways you can follow to help minimize attacks and regain control:
- Never Forget That It’s Temporary
When you’re experiencing an attack, you should remember all the things you’re feeling will ultimately pass. Also, these feelings wouldn’t cause you harm, even though they feel overwhelming and scary during the occurrence.
You should also attempt to recognize what you’re experiencing is a temporary period of intense worry, and it’ll stop eventually. Anxiety attacks can also have their climax around the 10-minute mark from the onset, and then the symptoms will start to fade slowly.
- Always Take Deep Breaths
Taking a deep breath can help bring the episode to be manageable. These attacks can cause you to breathe rapidly and make your chest tighten, so your breaths will become shallower. If you don’t try to take deep breaths, your feelings of tension and anxiety will worsen.
You should try to be calm and breathe slowly and deeply, and you should also concentrate on taking each breath. Breathe from your abdomen, so your lungs will fill with air slowly and steadily. You should also count to four while you inhale and do the same when you exhale.
You can also try doing the ‘4-7-8 breathing’ technique where you inhale for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds, and exhale gradually for eight seconds. It’s also worth noting deep breathing can make some people have worse anxiety attacks. If you’re one of these people, you can try to divert your attention to an activity you enjoy instead.
- Get A Whiff Of Some Lavender
Inhaling a soothing scent can help lessen your anxiety by stimulating your sense of smell. This can also help you stay grounded and divert your attention away from your attack. One of the most popular remedies is lavender, and it’s known for contributing a deep sense of calmness and relaxation.
Try holding lavender oil under your nose and inhale it gently or dab a little bit onto your handkerchief to make it easier to smell. Although this essential oil is widely available in online stores, you should only buy them from reputable retailers to ensure premium quality.
But if you don’t like the scent of lavender, you could replace it with an essential oil you prefer. Some of the more prevalent alternatives are chamomile, lemon, and bergamot orange.
- Find A Quiet Spot
Overwhelming sounds and sights can usually worsen your anxiety attack, so if possible, you should try your best to find a quieter spot. Leave a crowded and noisy room or lean against a wall close to you.
Going to a peaceful spot will allow you to have more mental space. You’ll also have an easier time focusing on finding other coping strategies or breathing deeply.
- Keep Focusing On A Certain Object
When you become overwhelmed with negative thoughts, emotions, or memories, try to concentrate on an object near you. By doing so, you’ll feel more grounded, and focusing on another stimulus will reduce the other feelings you have.
As you focus on the item, you should try to think about how it feels when you touch it, the person who made it, and the shape it depicts. Following this technique will also lessen the symptoms of your anxiety attack.
If you have frequent attacks, you can set aside an object and carry it around with you to keep your mind from wandering. You can use ordinary things like a seashell, a smooth stone, a small token, among others.
- Try The 5-4-3-2-1 Method
Anxiety attacks can make you feel disconnected from reality, caused by the power of your episode taking over your other senses. The 5-4-3-2-1 method is a grounding strategy and a form of mindfulness because it can help divert your attention from the things triggering your stress.
To follow this method, you should do these steps slowly and carefully:
- Look for five different items: Contemplate about each object for a short period.
- Listen to four different sounds: Think about where they’re coming from and what makes them different.
- Feel three objects: Reflect on how they feel, their temperature, and what their functions are.
- Smell two different smells: You could inhale the scent of coffee, soap, or detergent.
- Identify one thing you can taste: Take note of what your mouth tastes like or try tasting a menthol-flavored candy.
By doing these, your mind would gradually be peaceful and the attack would eventually lessen.
- Remember A Mantra
A mantra is any word, phrase, or sound to help you focus and give you strength, and repeating it to yourself can help you overcome an anxiety attack. Your mantra can also be your way of reassuring yourself, and it may be as simple as a common phrase like, ‘This too shall pass.’
As you focus on softly reciting a mantra, your physical symptoms will subside, and you can breathe more freely and relax your muscles.
- Walk Around Or Do Some Light Exercise
Walking can help you overcome a stressful atmosphere, and the pace of your walk can also help you control your breathing. Strolling around can also trigger the release of hormones such as endorphins to help improve your move and make you feel relaxed.
Exercising regularly can also help reduce your anxiety after some time, and it may lead to a decrease in your attack’s severity and frequency.
- Relax Your Muscles
One of the symptoms of anxiety attacks is having tense muscles. So if you try to practice muscle relaxation, it can help mitigate an attack. If your mind feels your body is becoming more relaxed, other symptoms of your attack like rapid breathing can also reduce.
A method called progressive muscle relaxation is gaining more popularity nowadays, and it can help you cope with anxiety attacks. This technique involves straining some muscles then relaxing them one by one. To complete this technique, you should:
- Tense up your muscles for around 5 seconds
- Say ‘Relax’ as you release the tension in your muscles
- Let your muscles relax for 10 seconds before proceeding to another one
- Think Of A Happy Place
Your happy place should be anywhere you’d feel calmer. It’ll be different for each person since everyone has a specific area where they’ll feel safe. When your anxiety attack starts, you can close your eyes and imagine yourself being in your happy place. Think of how peaceful you’ll be when you’re there. You can also visualize your feet touching the grass, sand, soil, or rug.
- Take Prescribed Medications
Based on the gravity of your anxiety attacks, your doctor could prescribe a drug to help you manage and deal with them. Luckily, these medications usually work quickly. Some of these can contain benzodiazepine, which is also known as a beta-blocker reducing your blood pressure. They work by blocking the effects of epinephrine, more commonly known as adrenaline.
However, some of these drugs can lead to addiction, so you should use them exactly as how your doctor prescribes. Also, if they’re taken with alcohol or opioids, they can cause hazardous adverse effects potentially leading to death.
Your doctor may also prescribe you selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs are commonly used as antidepressants, but they can also prevent attacks from happening.
- Tell It To Someone Important To You
If you experience anxiety attacks frequently in the same place such as the office or a crowded place, it’d help if you tell somebody about your situation. Doing so will trigger them to offer you their support and can do it again if it happens in the future.
When you experience an anxiety attack in public, telling someone you know can also help immensely. They can help you find a quiet spot and prevent other people from gathering around you.
- Discover Your Triggers
Your anxiety attacks can often be caused by the same triggers like crowds, enclosed spaces, or financial problems. If you learn to avoid or manage these stimuli, you could reduce the occurrence and severity of your attacks.
Helpful Strategies To Control Your Anxiety
It’s good to reduce the impact of your anxiety. Reducing your stress levels will also help lessen your attacks. These strategies can help:
- Perform breathing exercises: Practicing slow, deep breathing is a relaxation technique to have some relief when you’re having an anxiety attack.
- Meditate: Having regular meditation exercises is excellent in reducing your stress levels, promoting mindfulness, and making you feel less lonely. Meditating on a specific thought could also make you be grounded with your surroundings.
- Talk to someone you trust: Having a stable social support system can help ease your anxiety and make you feel valid.
- Engage in regular exercise: Doing physical activities can help you get better sleep, lessen your built-up tension, and trigger the release of endorphins. This can make you feel a sense of happiness and feel more relaxed.
- Try taking therapy: If your anxiety or sense of panic is often affecting your daily life, asking for help from a mental health professional is important because they can offer expert support, advice, and reassurance. Engaging in therapy can help you discover the cause of your anxiety and the most effective ways to cope with it.
Making significant lifestyle changes could also help diminish the effects of your anxiety. These strategies could help:
- Avoid or try to reduce smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages, and coffee.
- Have a healthy diet
- Try to get a good sleep
- Stay hydrated
For millennia, people from different cultures have employed herbs to curb the effects of anxiety and depression. Some of the most common alternative remedies widely available online are passiflora, kava extract, and valerian. However, you need to do prior research about their effect since further studies are still being done to know their advantages. You should also consult your doctor before using these remedies.
Knowing When To Seek Help
Anxiety attacks can be perplexing and terrifying, so if you’re worried about having an episode, you should consult your doctor to seek their advice and reassurance.
If you experience severe or regular attacks, this could mean you have a disorder. Even though you aren’t diagnosed, you should still talk to your doctor if your attacks are:
- Unexpected and recurring
- Affecting your daily activities
- Can’t be controlled with simple coping methods
Consulting a medical professional will help you know what to do in dealing with the attacks as they can suggest both short-term and long-term strategies. Also, the symptoms of an attack such as sweating, chest pain, and intense anxiety can be identified with more serious conditions like cardiac arrests. So if you think you’re having a heart attack or stroke, seek help immediately.
It’s impossible to know when an anxiety attack will happen, but planning for it can help you feel a sense of control. When it occurs, you should find a peaceful place and employ deep breathing or grounding techniques to make you feel more secured during an attack.
You can also implement long-term methods to reduce the rate and incidence of attacks. These can comprise trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, going to therapy, and finding ways to cope with your anxiety in your daily activities. Apply any of the tips mentioned here to equip yourself better.