If you’ve ever experienced an anxiety or panic attack, you’ll know that they can be terrifying experiences. And, what makes them so terrifying is that there’s no hard and fast way to stop them from coming.
However, and luckily – there are ways to manage and control these attacks when they happen. While I can’t tell you how to stop attacks in their tracks (well, actually I can tell you how I learned to do it, but that’s another topic for another time!), dealing with them as they happen – or in those key minutes and seconds just before – can lessen the impact, and even prevent them next time.
Anxiety Attack Techniques
I’m sure you can picture it in detail – let’s say you, or someone you’re trying to help keep calm – is about to have a full-on anxiety attack.
Things are getting tense, you might not be able to think straight or worse, feel like you can’t breathe, and the panic is only increasing. You might feel like you’re going to collapse or die; you don’t know what to do and you’re seeing stars. Maybe your vision is buzzing or fading, but in any case – you feel like you are beyond help at this point.
So here’s what you do. First thing’s first:
Anxiety Attacks Have No Cure
I’m not trying to sound harsh, but it is true: there really is no cure for anxiety attacks.
They can be prevented, but not cured. Even if you decided to take medication to treat anxiety attacks, it will not stop them from happening in the long or short term – instead, you will be training yourself to self-medicate each and every time you have an attack.
One more thing – don’t fight the attack. Take it from me and my vast experience with this – the more you struggle against it, the worse it will be. For example: I was a plane and had a massive full-on attack. I was shaking, crying and nauseous, and I tried to stop shaking – and I ended up blacking out.
But, the experience taught me what I should have done. And here I am to help.
The Natural Way to Calm Yourself During an Anxiety Attack
So here we go. Here’s how you handle an anxiety attack.
You can do these in any order you like, and as many times as you feel the need to.
If you can’t catch your breath, try breathing through your nose. Breathe in for 4 seconds, then hold it for 3 seconds. Breathe out slowly over 4 seconds. Repeat this until your anxiety attack subsides.
This helps your brain to receive more oxygen and calm down, as well as slows your heart down to a normal pace.
Take your mind off whatever it was that set off the attack in the first place:
- If you’re with someone, tell them about your day, your life, or something strange you dreamt about recently.
- Describe what you see around you with details (?there’s a scratch on that blue van’s side’)
- Describe the activities and people around you.
- Listen to the sounds you can hear around you – what are they, where are they coming from and what could they mean?
Sip Water Slowly
This is my favorite one – I used to carry water with me everywhere for this reason.
The reason this is so important is that if you feel you can’t breathe, water opens your airway and forces you to take a breath. This is because your body can’t breathe and swallow at the same time, so once you slip, you automatically need to breathe after.
Also, sipping water is therapeutic – especially if you’re crying or losing your bodily fluids, you need to restore those quickly.
Sing It Out
Just like the above, singing forces you to keep breathing regularly and has the added bonus of being a distraction. Sing that catchy tune you’ve had stuck in your head all day – out loud is better, so you can inhale and exhale regularly and calmly.
Listen to Music
Similar to the above, this distracts you. Music can instantly change your mood, and (if you hear the right song), can trigger happy memories too.
Walk it Out
This is hands down one of the best ways to calm yourself down.
Go for a quick, brisk walk. Or, if you’re too weak to move, try to jump, or move your arms or legs.
This is mostly for distracting yourself but there’s also a scientific reason behind it – during an anxiety attack, your body releases a lot of adrenalin, meaning you need to do something to get rid of it and walking, jumping or a short run helps you do that.
Plus, even better – it helps you to regulate your breathing, as well as clearing your mind.
Go to a Quiet Place
Find a quiet place, away from distractions and whatever might have triggered the attack in the first place. Practice breathing, singing and whatever else you feel like. Wait out the attack. You’ve got this.
I really hope this helps you, and that you never need to use these tips. But, if you do, now you have some useful and easy ways to help calm yourself down.
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