Anxiety attacks are characterized by a sudden and intense surge of panic and fear, accompanied by a multitude of emotional and physiological symptoms as well. If these attacks are wearing you down, there is good news. You can learn to control them right from the comfort of your own home, without having to take trips to the doctor. Here are a few ways you can cope with your anxiety attack.
The most significant dread you will experience during an anxiety attack is perhaps the fear that you are about to die. It will assist you greatly to recognize an anxiety attack for what it is; it is not a life-threatening disease, it is not a heart attack, it is a temporary passing situation.
Understanding that an anxiety attack signals the misfiring of your amygdala and that your body is having an upsurge of adrenaline, offsetting your balance, is one necessary step towards the management of an anxiety attack. It is essential to understand your brain’s fear center and its response, so you can recognize this event for what it is. Despite the immediate sense of doom and angst, it will pass, and you will live through it.
During an anxiety attack, there are many psychological, physiological and emotional changes that take place in your body, and some stages of stress as well. Once you are clear about these issues, then your anxiety attack will no longer be the shadow in the darkness waiting to get you. This then allows you to focus on techniques that reduce the symptoms of an anxiety attack.
Deep, calm breathing
Hyperventilating is a sign of a panic attack, that exacerbates the feeling of fear if not controlled. By teaching yourself how to deep breath can reduce the panic by creating a slow stream of oxygen to your lungs, therefore preventing the build-up of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream brought about by hyperventilation.
Deep breathing also referred to as belly, or diaphragmatic breathing works to help you cope with an anxiety attack, by triggering a natural tranquilizing effect in the body, that counters the results of the attack.
How to deep breathe
- Take in slow, deep but gentle breathes, through your nose
- Through puckered lips, let the air out slowly and gently
- It helps to count steadily from one to five while breathing in and then count back when breathing out, for optimal deep breathing
- Pause for two seconds
- Repeat procedure till you feel the feelings of calmness begin to reign in your panic
- To learn how to do it better during panic attacks, it helps to learn to deep breathe outside of a panic attack.
Your muscles cannot be both stressed and relaxed at the same time, so learning how to control your anxiety through muscle relaxation is one great way to lessen the effect of an anxiety attack. Once your muscles are relaxed, your body’s physiological systems can then expel out the stress hormones, which will diminish the active stress response.
The other positive effect of muscle relaxation is the ability to offset muscle tension brought on by anxiety attacks. Muscle tension can cause tight or strained muscles that may be debilitating or restrictive on some individuals. These muscle twitches or cramps may even need medication depending on their severity. Learning to relax your muscles can actively combat the effects of the muscle tension symptom of anxiety attacks.
To relax your muscles, consciously relax them, begin with one muscle, then heading to the next one. You can start with your fingers, for example, leading your way to the rest of the body. Practice the muscle relaxation technique beforehand so you can engage it optimally during an anxiety attack.
Practice mindfulness and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Accept your thoughts as they come and resist the urge to blow them out of proportion and letting fear run your life. Learn to stay in the moment, and decide to stop being over analytical of events you cannot change, which is what leads you to panic. Let physical sensations such as the feeling of your toes on the carpet, or the smell of coffee wafting through the room, ground you firmly in the now, giving you a real experience to focus on.
Challenge your fears, their origins, their reality and their potential for harm. This can help you diffuse a panic attack and enable you nip it in the bud.