There I was, breathing rapidly and heavily.
I didn’t know what was happening. Then it hit me; I was having my first anxiety and panic attack.
And it was terrible. I can tell you that.
You might be in the same boat, especially today when we’re living in times of high stress and insecurity – where anything is possible, and an anxiety attack can come as sudden as a tidal wave upon you.
According to Mayo Clinic:
- people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations
- anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes
In this post, I want to share a few ways to stop an anxiety attack before it starts. Even though you might have an anxiety disorder, there is help for you.
Let’s read on.
How do you calm an anxiety attack?
That’s the question you need answering, especially when you’re feeling those sudden and intense feelings of fear and anxiety.
It’s not a good feeling. It’s overwhelming, and it paralyzes you physically.
In those moments, you need a few strategies that can help you when you feel anxiety or panic overpowering you.
These are the five things I use and still use when I notice my heart racing and I am breathing a little faster to help me keep a handle on it.
1. Remember to always keep breathing
When you’re anxious, this is the first thing you need to learn how to do again. And it’s as simple as breathing – because, in a panic or anxiety attack, you forget to breathe, and if you don’t breathe, it gets worse.
You need to practice. Margaret Jaworskiou of Psycom recommends you “Practice breathing in through your nose for a count of five, hold it for five, and then breathe out through the mouth for a count of five.”
2. Focus on something specific
Your mind races, and you can’t seem to focus. A lot of thoughts are going through your mind, but you need to focus on something. That’s the thing about anxiety, the overwhelming sense of no control. To combat that, you need to focus on some point to keep yourself from losing it.
Choose a point to focus on so that you can quickly go there during an anxiety attack.
3. Go to that cheerful place in your mind
In an anxiety attack, you feel fear, not just any kind of fear but a really deep fear. Going to a cheerful place is the solution for this. I understand this might sound dumb but hear me out.
Healthline gives us a few good questions to ask when you feel an anxiety attack coming on: “What’s the most relaxing place in the world that you can think of? A sunny beach with gently rolling waves? A cabin in the mountains?”
Go to a quiet place, that place where you feel safe and makes you feel happy.
When feeling anxiety in your life, answer those questions and go there. And the bonus of doing this is it can help anyone.
4. Recognize you’re having an anxiety or panic attack
Don’t run from it. Recognize that you’re having an anxiety attack, and embrace it. When you’re at that moment, you feel like you’re having a heart attack because your heart is beating so fast.
But when you recognize what’s happening, you can remember that this won’t last. It never does. Even if we think an anxiety episode won’t go away, it will.
When anxiety starts creeping in, recognize what it is, apply some other ways to cope with it, and remember that it will pass.
5. Repeat a “mantra” to keep yourself from losing it
I don’t enjoy using the word mantra, but you need to have something to say to yourself to keep you in a relaxed state. One thing I felt when I was having an anxiety attack is that I couldn’t breathe and that I might die from asphyxia. So I started repeating the same sentence over and over to remind myself that I just needed to breathe.
This is what I said: “If I’m talking, I’m breathing, and if I’m breathing, I’m alive.”
I said this because I remembered that if you couldn’t breathe, it would be impossible to talk. So I just repeated it a lot. There might be different arguments for this, but at that moment, that was my reasoning.
Depending on what your anxiety attack is causing you to do, have a “mantra” so that you can repeat it to stay focused on your breathing.
The first step is the hardest
I know it’s hard to take that first step. Anxiety and panic attacks never are easy to cope with, but you need to take that first step.
So, how to stop an anxiety attack before it starts? Follow some, or all, of the ways I mentioned in this article:
- Remember to always keep breathing
- Focus on something specific
- Go to that cheerful place in your mind
- Recognize you’re having an anxiety or panic attack
- Repeat a “mantra” to keep yourself from losing it
If you need more help to learn how to cope with your anxiety disorder, I urge you to contact a professional counselor or psychologist. And if you don’t know of anyone, go to your medical provider, and he or she will help you find one.
About the Author: Javier Velazquez is a Mental Health freelance writer. He uses his expert knowledge, skills, and personal experience in digital marketing to craft content in Mental Health that makes people take action. When he’s not working on his latest project, you can find him reading a wonderful book and drinking coffee.
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios only.
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