Are you dealing with anxiety attacks? Anxious situations are hard and dealing with stress can at times be so overwhelming that it seems the problems are pressing our shoulders from each direction. How to deal with them? Everyone is facing them, but it seems some people deal with them with ease and some feel completely paralyzed by fear.
We could blame it on our parents, childhood and bad experiences, sure. There is definitely a pattern we have established in our early age. However, what is stopping us now, as adults to cope better?
Dealing with anxiety attack – few easy steps
For one, and some might not agree, we as adults have a choice to act a certain way. We need to understand that our thoughts, actions, and reactions are our responsibility. It is up to us to find ways to cope better. With help if necessary, but it is our responsibility.
Same goes for anxiety attacks (and panic attacks). Don’t get me wrong, I am not undermining the mental health issue. Professional help is in many cases a necessary way to deal with anxiety. What I am saying is that even if you are getting the help you need to help yourself as well. Double efforts can’t hurt.
How to help yourself during anxiety attack
For those of you dealing with anxiety attacks here are several easy steps to follow that I have used and that helped me ease the situation:
- Breathing – I know, a no-brainer, but I don’t mean just deep breaths. When you’re having an attack all you want to do is restore normal breathing. But how? Try through counting and adjusting your body position. You can do it sitting down or standing up if you find it easier, with your palms facing outwards (this will push forward your chest and shoulders and open some space). Then inhale through your nose counting to 4 and exhale through mouth counting to 4. Focus on counting. After several breaths, continue inhaling through nose counting to 4 and exhale but this time counting to 7 or 8. After several breaths, the hyperventilation will ease up. At this point, you can also introduce holding your breath for several counts and exhaling slowly counting to 8. This method will help adjust your breathing and will also slow down your heart rate. You can try this method even if you don’t suffer from anxiety attacks. Try it before sleep or before an important meeting. It will help relax you.
- Refocus the mind – Muscle tension – this can be done with the above method, but often it is hard to focus on both at the same time. Start with breathing but if you have a problem moving from the first set of breaths to another, try first by squeezing your hands. Squeeze one hand for four counts, squeeze the other hand for four counts. This focuses the brain on the muscle tension. You can continue from your hands by squeezing other parts of your body too. If you feel up to it, you can also introduce the breathing method.
- Refocus the mind – Drawing/Coloring/Doodling etc. – take a paper and draw shapes, squares, triangles, lines, circles, whatever comes to mind and color them, focus on staying inside the lines. Or doodle something. You can also make cubes with play-doh etc. Simple shapes is all you need.
- Awareness – it is hard to make the mind exit the ‘weird comfort zone’. When dealing with the anxiety attack be aware of what is happening. If you have suffered from several anxiety attacks you can already with certainty say it will pass. You know it will pass. Become aware of this knowledge and use the previous steps.
- Relaxation – each of my anxiety attacks ended in complete exhaustion and in feeling both relieved and ashamed. Be kind to yourself. After the attack passes continue using the breathing technique and acknowledge the fact that you have made it through. Lie down or sit down and just breathe.
These were methods I used daily. Eventually, I started using them to prevent an anxiety attack. With a slow introduction of positive thoughts and physical activity, I started to have less and less of them until they completely stopped. I hope some of these steps help you as well. You are not alone in this.