Have you ever been just sitting, watching television or talking with a friend, and suddenly realize your heart is beating fast? Or have you been walking along the sidewalk when a car suddenly swerves in your direction and your heart begins thumping rapidly in your chest?
In both cases, you’ve experience heart palpitations. In the second case, the reason is very clear. You’ve felt danger and fear, your heart sped up in a natural response. In the first case, you can find no reason.
And often physicians can find no reason for this sudden rapid beating of your heart, either. In almost every case, these kinds of palpitations are not harmful to you. They appear suddenly, last for a few seconds or a minute, then go away just as quickly.
They can be caused by your heart skipping beats or by nothing. They can also be caused by anxiety. And they cause anxiety themselves. After all, you begin thinking there may be something wrong with your heart.
Only in very rare cases is there something wrong with your heart, though. Still, if you’re having palpitations, it would be a good idea to tell your physician and get it checked.
What Causes Heart Palpitations?
There are a number of things that can bring on heart palpitations. Most of them are harmless.
- Anxiety of many kinds
- Too little sleep, disturbed sleep
- Too much alcohol
- Abnormal electrolytes such as potassium
- Some kinds of dietary supplements such as ephedrine and valerian
- Hyperventilation such as during anxiety
- Over exercising
- Low blood sugar
- Stimulants such as chocolate and caffeine
- Some prescription and over the counter medications
When the palpitations are caused by stress, they are part of a normal response in your body. Stress from any source triggers this kind of response, which includes a rush of adrenaline through your system. This adrenaline speeds up your heartbeat, and can cause palpitations. Once the stress is gone, your body returns to normal and relaxes, including your heartbeat.
But if you experience continuing anxiety, this normal response is altered. The anxiety leads to a series of mini rushes of adrenaline throughout the day. You may not even be aware of these mini episodes, but they’re there.
This keeps adrenaline pushing through your blood stream faster than your body can naturally take care of it. The constant flow of adrenaline stimulates your heart to beat faster, sometimes bringing on palpitations.
Your anxiety causes your heart to beat faster, you become aware of it thumping away inside your chest, and this causes more anxiety. You can see how this becomes a vicious cycle of anxiety causing palpitations causing anxiety.
What Can You Do About Heart Palpitations Anxiety?
Considering the physical feelings associated with heart palpitations and how they can lead you to think there’s something wrong with your heart, it’s easy to see why they cause anxiety. There are some things you can do to help with this feeling.
Take A Time Out. When you begin feeling anxious and feel your heart beating faster, take a time out. Give yourself a break of a few minutes when you don’t think about whatever is causing you to feel anxious. If something is worrying you, make yourself think about something more pleasant. If you have a big project or presentation due, take a few minutes and do something else.
Get away from whatever is making you anxious.
Doing this will give your body time to burn off some of that excess adrenaline coursing through your body. If you do this consistently, it can prevent the adrenaline from building to a significant level again. This may be enough to deal with your heart palpitations.
What are some anxiety time outs you can take?
- Take a slow walk while listening to soft music
- Practice yoga
- Engage in mindfulness meditation
- Get a massage
- Play with your pet
- Spend time with your children
- Anything that takes some concentration to focus on so that it’s hard to be anxious
Control Your Breathing. Any time you feel anxious, regardless of the reason, your breathing tends to become faster and more shallow. This can lead to a change in your body chemistry and increase your feelings of anxiety. Instead, force yourself to breathe more slowly. Slow, controlled breaths will decrease the possibility of hyperventilation that can bring on both anxiety and heart palpitations.
Distract Yourself. When you feel your heart beating faster, it captures your attention quickly. You pay a lot of attention to your heartbeat, wondering what’s going on. The more you pay attention to your heart at these times, the faster it will beat. Distract your attention by doing something that requires you to focus on it.
Drink Water. The act of drinking water can have a calming effect in itself. Paying attention to the cooling feeling of the water going into your body will also be a way to distract yourself. Drinking water reduces dehydration which is a cause of heart palpitations in itself.
Learn To Relax. There are many ways to relax that are all good. Find one that fits you and practice it regularly. The more you practice, the more relaxation you’ll get. Staying more relaxed in general will help you overall in your dealing with anxiety and heart palpitations.
All of these activities will help you with both anxiety and heart palpitations if you continue doing them. They won’t stop the palpitations immediately.
Heart palpitations can happen to everyone at any time. The vast majority of the time, there may be no reason found, even by physicians. But the rapid beating of your heart that occurs all of a sudden can be caused by anxiety and certainly causes anxiety.
When this happens, you can distract yourself from paying attention to your heartbeat and lessen the chances of anxiety being generated. Going for a slow walk will help you deal with heart palpitations, also. Learning to relax will help you overall with both anxiety and heart palpitations.