Anyone who has been through an anxiety attack knows the helpless and fearful feeling it can bring. And they want to do anything that can stop it.
No wonder. The symptoms of an anxiety or panic attack are frightening. Difficulty catching your breath, chest pain, rapid heart beat, feeling like your skin is on fire, all of these cause most people to think they’re having a heart attack.
You begin to feel like you’re going to die or run away from wherever you are screaming or like you’re going to faint. The truth is, those things don’t happen.
Probably the worst thing that can happen is you might faint. If you do, your body will return to a normal calm state, and you’ll wake up.
But in the middle of an anxiety attack, you have a hard time thinking about these things. So, it’s good to have some things you can do before you have an anxiety attack to either delay or prevent having one in the first place.
Things To Do For Anxiety Attack Help
Keep in mind the ideas that follow may not stop an anxiety attack once it has started, but they can be used to make the attacks shorter, put off an attack, and maybe prevent an attack. Some of these you may be able to remember in the midst of an attack, others you probably won’t. That’s okay. The more you use them, the more likely they will be of help.
Seek Professional Help.
This is the best thing you can do to deal with your anxiety attacks. Find a competent professional who can help you get to the foundation of your anxiety. You may need some medication to calm the anxiety for a while as you get started in therapy. But keep in mind, the medication won’t cure your anxiety. And there are many drawbacks to taking it for long periods of time.
There are many kinds of therapy that are effective for many people. Don’t hesitate to shop around to find a professional you can grow to trust and who uses a type of therapy you can believe in.
There may be some reasons why you don’t want to try therapy or want to try it later. That being so, following are some self-help ideas for anxiety attack help.
Learn About Anxiety.
Anxiety is one of the most common, if not the most common, of the psychological disorders. It is a mechanism we have naturally that helps us prepare for something dangerous in our lives. This means we don’t want to totally get rid of it; we want to learn how to manage it so that it works to our benefit.
Anxiety attacks often come if we perceive something is dangerous when it isn’t. As soon as this happens, our bodies kick into a normal response. Our hearts start beating faster to supply more blood to our muscles so we can fight against or flee from whatever the danger is.
Our breathing comes faster to get more oxygen into our lungs. The unfortunate thing is, this breathing often becomes shallow, as well. This changes the chemistry of our bodies and can lead to the fainting feeling.
Anxiety or panic attacks also only last a short time, even though it feels like they last much longer. About ten minutes after the attack starts, it has reached its peak. From there, the symptoms gradually go away for about another twenty to thirty minutes.
During the time of the attack, you use up a lot of energy. That’s why you may feel completely wrung out once the attack is over.
Not during the anxiety attack. There is no relaxation then, because you’re so caught up in the moment. But before and between attacks, practice physical relaxation. There are several ways to do this.
One easy relaxation technique that takes only a few minutes to learn and that gets more effective with practice, goes like this: Get in a comfortable position sitting or lying down. Beginning with your feet, tense the muscles there while keeping all other muscles as relaxed as you can. Hold the tension for a long count of ten, then relax those muscles. Feel the difference. Then work your way up your body through your legs, your stomach, your chest, your arms and hands, then your neck and face. Each muscle group should be tensed, held, then relaxed.
The more you practice this, the more relaxed you’ll feel and the longer that relaxation will last. Learning to relax like this will serve a preventive role overall.
Many people normally breathe with their chest muscles and many more do this when an anxiety attack occurs. This kind of breathing doesn’t use your entire lungs and doesn’t get a good supply of oxygen into your body.
Instead, learn to breathe like a baby. That is, with your diaphragm. When sitting comfortably, put one hand on your stomach just above your belly button. Take in a deep breath and make that hand go up as you do so. This kind of “belly breathing” uses your whole lungs and gets more air into them. With practice, this become automatic.
Then, once you feel an anxiety attack coming on, or once you begin to have one, focus on your breathing. Doing this will do away with the shallow breathing so common with anxiety attacks and will prevent at least most of that feeling of faintness.
This technique works very well with the two above to further deepen the feeling of relaxation you will get. It can also help during an attack to distract you from the feelings of anxiety.
Imagery is simply imagining yourself in another place. A place where you’ve felt very safe and secure, very comfortable. It doesn’t matter where that place might be, a beach, in the mountains, at grandmother’s house. As long as it was a place where you felt comfortable, safe, and relaxed. You may even want to fantasize about such a place if you can’t remember feeling that way before.
Imagine the sights, sounds, smells, and physical feelings of that place. Get them so firmly in mind that you can put yourself there in your mind. Every little detail is important; the more details you can put into this imagery, the stronger it will be.
Combine this imagery with the physical relaxation and breathing exercises to achieve a deep, lasting feeling of relaxation.
Once you’re in an anxiety attack help will still be there. Because the feelings that come with an anxiety attack are so strong, they take over all of your ability to think. Finding ways to distract yourself from those feelings can help you diminish the power of the attack.
One way of doing this is to pay attention to all of the sensations you experience without any evaluation of them. Just labeling them will take away some of their impact.
Tell yourself, “My breathing is faster. I feel like I might faint. My heart is beating fast.” Then expand outward from that to any other feelings might have, such as the sunshine on your face, wind in your hair, anything else at all. The more you can expand outward from your feelings, the more distracted you will be from them.
At the same time, talk to yourself. Tell yourself this will pass. It always has in the past; there’s no reason for this time to be any different.
Stay away from telling yourself you have to control any of your feelings. That will only make the feelings more intense and may prolong the attack.
You can try some other things to distract yourself, also. Count backwards from one hundred or count the number of bricks in a wall near you or count the number of blue cars that drive past. Any of these kinds of things will take your mind off your anxiety and decrease the feelings.
Keep in mind these distractions take time and practice to develop. During the anxiety attack you won’t remember what to do at first. But practicing them will make them more automatic.
Change Your Thinking.
Many times, your thoughts will automatically go toward those that make you more anxious. Sometimes, thoughts of something that always brings on anxiety can actually begin an anxiety attack.
Learn what those thoughts are for you. They may be thoughts of someplace you have to go that is fearful for you. Or someone who always makes you anxious. When you find yourself thinking about that place or person, tell yourself to stop. Then, make yourself think about something pleasant. This could be your favorite vacation place, a favorite person, or anything that is pleasant.
If you have a hard time coming up with something pleasant, find a time when you’re not anxious, and think about that kind of place or person. Write it down. Keep it with you. When you begin to notice your thoughts going to those anxiety-producing things, take out your list and make yourself think about one of the more pleasant places or people.
You may be doing a lot of “what if” thinking. That is, you’re wondering what if such and such happens? Or what if so and so is there? You’re borrowing from the future and causing worry and fear in the present.
Challenge yourself. When you find this kind of thinking going on, make yourself question whether this is happening now. Not in the future, but right now. Keeping yourself in the present will keep a lot of your anxiety away.
As you do this, make yourself realize you’re not in danger from whatever it is that “what if” thinking is all about. You may feel uncomfortable, but you’re not in danger. Realizing the danger doesn’t exist will help you feel less anxious.
Once again, this takes time and practice.
Take Care Of Yourself Physically.
The more physically healthy you are, the better you feel overall. Get enough sleep every night. Research shows most people need about seven hours of sleep every night. Aim for that goal.
Eat well. Stay away from junk food. A balanced diet is best. Stay away from processed foods and those with lots of sugar in them. Eat good protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables.
Avoid stimulants. Some coffee may be all right, but remember that caffeine can make your anxiety worse. Nicotine can do the same thing. It can make your feeling of anxiety worse if you get addicted to it and don’t get enough. Besides that, it’s very bad for your health overall.
Get some exercise. You don’t have to go to the gym every day for several hours. Walking is a great way to exercise. Regular exercise can relax you.
Pay attention to any food sensitivities you might have. Some people have responses to foods they are sensitive to and don’t realize it. Read up on these sensitivities and see if they may pertain to you.
Try eating foods that are high in tryptophan. This is a chemical found in turkey, bananas, chicken, oats, cheese, and soy. It is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps with feelings of calm and peace.
Eat foods high in vitamin B. Beef, pork, leafy greens, and citrus fruits have large amounts of vitamin B in them.
Eat complex carbohydrates to increase serotonin in your brain. Whole grains are a good source of complex carbs. They digest slowly and release glucose regularly over time, preventing a spike in blood sugar and insulin.
Avoid large amounts of alcohol. Besides the long-term health risks of a lot of alcohol, the short-term effects can be harmful. Alcohol is a diuretic and can bring on dehydration which is also a way to bring on increased anxiety feelings.
Making changes in your diet won’t bring fast relief from your anxiety, but they will bring long-lasting benefits. They’re not a way to get around getting professional help. Be patient with yourself; these changes will make a difference in the long run.
How to End an Anxiety Attack http://www.everydayhealth.com/pictures/how-to-end-an-anxiety-attack/
How to Calm Yourself During an Anxiety Attack http://www.wikihow.com/Calm-Yourself-During-an-Anxiety-Attack
Is it true that certain foods worsen anxiety and others have a calming effect? http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/expert-answers/coping-with-anxiety/FAQ-20057987
SELF-HELP STRATEGIES FOR PANIC DISORDER https://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/adult_hmpanic.pdf
9 Foods That Help or Hurt Anxiety http://www.everydayhealth.com/anxiety-pictures/anxiety-foods-that-help-foods-that-hurt-0118.aspx#02