Anxiety: Four Ways To Reduce Panic Attacks
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a constant heaviness in your mind. It’s that heart pounding, sweating, nausea, chills, shortness of breath, and dizzy feeling that comes out of nowhere. Sometimes anxiety will make you feel restless and constantly distracted. It feels as if your thoughts are running wild in a million different directions, bumping into each other along the way. Sound familiar? For many of us these symptoms are all too real.
I have personally suffered with anxiety for many years starting when I was a child. As I got older my panic attacks grew worse and more frequent. There were times when I felt like I couldn’t even breathe. As a result my grades suffered, relationships failed, and achieving goals seemed impossible. Anxiety is scary and it’s no joke. It wasn’t until I found a few reliable techniques to reduce anxiety that I was able to get better.
What To Do
I am not certified nor trained in any way in the health field. Everything I am about to tell you is based off of my own experiences. This is what I do when I feel a panic attack come on.
When you begin to feel a panic attack come on stop what you are doing and tell yourself, “Ok I am having a panic attack.” Reading this might sound so silly but most times simply acknowledging the anxiety will begin the healing process. Next take deep breaths. Nice and slow. Focus on inhaling and exhaling. Imagine exhaling all your stress. You will begin to feel your body calm down bit by bit. While breathing slowly focus on something right in front of you. For example lets say your sitting at your desk and notice a pen. What color is the pen? Does the pen have a cap? What color is the cap? Is the pen thick or thin? Think of how the ink glides across the paper with every touch.
The purpose of this exercise is to get your mind to slow down and focus on one thing. You will notice the racing thoughts will calm down and your breathing will become easier. With every panic attack these techniques will become easier for you. The first few times may feel scary but remember fear amplifies your symptoms. The more fear you feel the worse the panic attack will become. The best thing to do is remain in control of your thoughts. Once this is under control everything else will fall into place.
Four Ways to Reduce Panic Attacks
According to studies getting exercise regularly is one of the best ways to reduce mild to moderate stress. It is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. The primary reason that exercise works as an effective anxiety management solution is because exercise actually has some of the same effects as some anxiety medications. When you exercise your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body and reduce stress. They are your body’s all natural painkillers. Studies show that over time exercise will reduce the frequency and severity of anxiety and panic attacks. When starting an exercise routine you don’t want to push yourself too hard especially at first. Start off by taking daily walks or if you’re up to it go for a long run. (Sometimes just getting outside helps me start to feel better). Swimming is another great way to get a good workout without going too hard. When you feel ready to step it up a bit try yoga. In yoga you will focus a lot on breathing which is very important when reducing anxiety. Over the years I have become a big supporter of doing yoga. Anxiety started to become a big issue for me after giving birth to my second son. I noticed that I would have frequent panic attacked throughout the day. I started a home yoga program called Namaste Yoga. Each workout is only about 20 minutes long, which was great while the baby slept. The moves started off simple and progressively became more advance. The narrator’s voice along with the background music was so relaxing I didn’t even notice the time go by. Doing this yoga program daily along with focusing on my deep breathing helped reduce my panic attacks drastically.
Find a Hobby
Finding an enjoyable hobby is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. I was reading an article not too long ago that suggested taking up coloring or painting when you are feeling anxious. It allows your mind to focus on one task allowing the other million thoughts to subside. I tried this technique myself and I have to admit it does work. With the increase of adult anxiety many bookstores now carry coloring books for adults. I think it’s a great idea. Another great way to reduce stress is journaling. Designate a specific book for your thoughts. You can even decorate the cover making it more personal and whenever you feel anxious write down how you’re feeling. Sometimes just getting your feelings out will help make you feel better. My favorite thing to do when I am feeling overwhelmed is chopping vegetables. When launching My Corner Bistro I was completely stressed out. I had just left my full time job in the legal industry and was a new stay at home mom, pregnant with our second son, learning photography and submersing myself in an industry I never thought I’d be interested in. Most of the time I found myself in the kitchen prepping for the next dish I was going to put up on the site. I noticed that each time I chopped the veggies for the dish I began to calm down. Cooking is something I’ve always loved to do but chopping the veggies forced my mind to focus on that one task allowing all the other thought to fade away. Find something that you love or maybe try something new.
For many people simply getting out of the house and grabbing a bite with some friends will do the trick. Being around people that make you laugh and you can be yourself is a great way to reduce anxiety. A change in scenery with your pals eating great food is one of the best ways to get your mind off of the things that stress you and allow your mind to calm down. Dave and I make it a point to get out of the house and sit somewhere and grab a bite once a month. We don’t talk about work or anything stressful, even though we end up always laughing about our boys most of the time. Just getting out allows us to feel refreshed and ready to come back to our responsibilities.
If at any point you feel like your anxiety becomes too much for you to handle please get help. Call a doctor, counselor, or mentor. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who can help you. The most important thing is your health and safety. Calling an anxiety helpline is a good way to reach out for help if persistent anxiety is affecting your quality of life. Anonymous and confidential, free anxiety hotlines can offer a compassionate, nonjudgmental ear and connect you with valuable resources that may help you take control of your anxiety. Remember you’re not alone. If you or someone you love is experiencing a debilitating anxiety attack please don’t hesitate to call The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).