Anxiety is a typical emotion, but it can be debilitating if it interferes with our personal, social, and emotional life. Anxiety attacks are a group of physical and mental health symptoms that can happen at once.
Anxiety is a broad phrase that encompasses a range of emotions, such as uneasiness, apprehension, and concern, all of which are common in many mental health conditions.
While most people experience anxiety occasionally, that's very different from having an anxiety attack. Typical anxiety, worry, and fear frequently have a recognized trigger (a major exam, money issues, or seeing your ex partner).
How to Reduce Anxiety and Anxiety Attacks?
The symptoms of a full-blown anxiety attack, including chest pain, flushed skin, racing heart, and troubled breathing, can make you feel as though you're about to pass out, go crazy, or lose control of yourself.
However, using the following five techniques, you can feel more in control and reduce the intensity of the attack:
1) Belly Breathing
Feeling short of breath is a hallmark symptom of an anxiety attack, but you can make the feeling worse by taking short, shallow breaths. Try belly breathing instead to stop the anxiety attack.
This type of breathing, as researchers suggest, is similar to the breathing of infants, whose bellies rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. When an anxiety attack starts, exhale deeply, loosen your shoulders, and focus on some longer, deeper inhales and exhales that let your belly rise and fall. Place one hand on your belly, if you need, to feel this happening.
Anxiety is generally associated with worries about the future. If we are able to focus and orient ourselves to the present, anxiety automatically subsides. The 5-4-3-2-1 coping strategy may be able to assist you quieten your racing thoughts when you feel overwhelmed.
Here’s how it works:
Five. Take a look around the room, and list the five items you see. These may be things like marks on the wall or a bird flying overhead. The key is to keep track of the five items.
Name four objects you can touch. They could be the surface under your feet, the chair you're sitting in or the hair you're playing with.
Three. Pay close attention, and name three things you hear. These can be internal sounds, like the sound of your breathing or exterior sounds, like the fan in the room.
Two. List two things you can smell. They can be the fragrance of your perfume or something cooking in the kitchen.
Finally, notice one thing you can taste.
3) Identifying Triggers
While there are tools you can use in the short term, it's often beneficial to identify your triggers as a long-term way of symptom management. Keeping a diary is the greatest way to accomplish that. Note the times you experience anxiety as well as what you think brought on the episode. To determine what is out of your control and to concentrate on what is, make a list of these factors.
Take note, for instance, if you are aware that some people tend to make you anxious during social interactions. Then, think about concentrating on these queries:
- What about this circumstance makes me anxious?
- Am I criticizing them?
- How would it harm me, even if they were passing judgment on me?
- Would preparing this interaction make me feel more at ease? (For instance, what you will say or how you will say it)
4) File It Exercise
The 'File It' way is especially effective if you find yourself lying awake at night worrying about all the things you need to accomplish but haven't gotten to or replaying an incident from the day.
The steps to complete this activity are as follows:
- Imagine a table with a file cabinet and file folders on it while closing your eyes.
- Pick each file, and as you do, write down the name of a thought that's running through your head, such as the argument you had with your partner, the presentation you have to deliver at work the next day, or the worry you have about contracting a disease.
- Once the name is in the file, pause to reflect on the idea and how significant it is. Then, file it away. Repeat this process with every thought that pops into your head till you start to feel calmer (or sleepy).
5) Repetitive Prayer
This approach involves silently repeating a brief prayer or part of a prayer while concentrating on your breathing. If religion or spirituality holds special value for you, this approach might be particularly enticing. However, this approach is not limited to a particular religion or spiritual beliefs.
Experts advise trying out many techniques to find which one suits you best rather than sticking with just one.
Although even a short amount of time can be beneficial, try to practice for at least 20 minutes each day. However, the advantages and levels of stress reduction increase the longer and more frequently you use the aforementioned relaxation techniques.
Although it's not always possible to predict when an anxiety attack can happen, having a strategy in place for when it does can make you feel more in control. People who experience anxiety can regain control by finding a calm location, engaging in deep breathing exercises, and doing grounding exercises.
Long-term measures can also be used by individuals to lessen the occurrence or frequency of panic attacks. Making healthy lifestyle choices, trying counseling, and learning how to control anxiety in daily life can all help you.
Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.
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