How does an anxiety attack work?
Anxiety attacks may have similar characteristics to a panic attack, but they often build up over time from underlying anxiety symptoms, instead of popping up out of nowhere. Anxiety attacks are most often connected to an anxiety disorder.
Types of anxiety disorders
Agoraphobia: This anxiety disorder is when you fear places or situations that may cause you to panic. You will find yourself avoiding these situations that make you feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed.
When anxiety strikes, it’s important to be aware of strategies that can help you calm down at the moment and manage or reduce your anxiety in the long term. Like many people, you may benefit from lifestyle changes such as eating a well-balanced diet, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, and simply taking time for yourself.
During an anxiety attack, there are also steps you can take to relax your mind and regain control of your thoughts.
9 ways to calm an anxiety attack fast
1. Stay in the present moment
Anxiety tends to be a future-oriented state of mind. Instead of worrying about what’s going to happen in the future, try to bring yourself back to the present. Ask yourself, “Am I safe right now? Is there something I can do about the situation right now?” If there’s nothing you can do in the present, revisit your concerns later so that you aren’t getting thrown off track by distant scenarios.
2. Talk to yourself
When you sense a panic attack, remind yourself that what you are experiencing is anxiety and that you are not in real danger. You can even address the fear directly by practicing a response like “I am not afraid” or “This too shall pass.”
3. Meditation and mindful breathing
Pay attention to your breathing. Initially, it may be loud and fast; try to consciously slow it down and breathe as deeply as you can. Redirect your thoughts to something positive so that you aren’t overwhelmed with negative thoughts. Give yourself affirmations, like saying “I will be okay” over and over again.
4. Be aware of your triggers
Self-awareness and increasing your knowledge about your mental health are crucial. The more aware you are of your triggers and how your anxiety starts, the easier it will be to get yourself through an attack.
5. “H.A.L.T.” your attack
Remember the letters “H.A.L.T.” which stand for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. These four feelings can bring out the worst in anyone and even turn into anxiety triggers. Once you pinpoint whether one of these is happening, you can do what you need to fix the issue before it causes a panic attack.
6. Get up and do something
When you sense an attack coming on, doing something as simple as standing up, taking a walk, or throwing away a piece of trash can help. Any action that interrupts your train of thought can help you regain a feeling of control.
7. Follow the 3-3-3 rule
This mental trick can help you center yourself and bring your mind back to the present stay in the present rather than getting carried away in the future:
- Look around and name three things you see
- Name three sounds you hear
- Move three parts of your body
8. Watch a funny video
Watching a funny video clip from your favorite show or comedian can help lower your anxiety. Studies show that laughter has tons of benefits for mental health and well-being, helping us ease anxiety as much as physical exercise can.
9. Stay away from sugar
Grabbing candy or a chocolate bar when you’re stressed can do more harm than good. Sugar can worsen feelings of anxiety, giving you a rush instead of calming you down. So instead of reaching for something sweet, drink a glass of water or eat protein, which can provide your body with slow energy it can use to recover from an anxiety attack.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
WebMD. Ways to Stop a Panic Attack. https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/ss/slideshow-ways-to-stop-panic-attack
International Bipolar Foundation. 9 Tips to Help You Get Through a Panic Attack. https://ibpf.org/articles/9-tips-to-help-you-get-through-a-panic-attack/
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