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How To Stop Feeling Anxious: Calming Anxiety

How To Stop Feeling Anxious: Calming Anxiety

Anxiety can be overwhelming and all-consuming, and it can certainly interfere with your ability to complete daily tasks and activities. 

Whether it’s anxiety due to outside stressors, discomfort during social situations, or your anxiety seems to arise at random, there are relaxation techniques that can help you manage some of your symptoms and support your long-term well-being.

If you or a loved one are living with an anxiety disorder these techniques can also be helpful in managing your symptoms in addition to therapy and medication. There are even a few ways to get ahead of your anxiety when you feel like you are on the verge of a panic attack. 

Let’s talk about some tips and tricks that can help you get a better handle on your anxious thoughts and patterns.

Panic Attacks: What Are They and How to Cope With One

A panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by panic attacks. Panic attacks are one of the most severe physical manifestations of anxiety, and they can last for up to several minutes. 

Panic attacks can resemble heart attacks in some, and it’s important to know the distinction between a heart attack and a panic attack to better understand when immediate medical attention is necessary. 

Common symptoms of panic attacks include:

  • A sense of terror or impending death
  • Feeling tearful
  • Sweating
  • Chills and hot flashes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Chest pain, increased heart rate, or heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath

Panic attacks can present differently in different people, so if you believe that you may be dealing with a panic disorder but your symptoms are not on the list above, it does not mean that your experiences are invalid.  

Long-term anxiety disorders such as panic disorders can even lead to chronic health conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure, making it even more important to harness the power of self-help techniques to help control your panic disorder in addition to therapy and medication.

How to Get Ahead of Panic Attacks: Stopping The Spiral

When you feel like your anxiety is getting out of control, there are a couple of things you can try which may help stop the spiral and calm your mind. 

When you start to feel a panic attack approaching, trying these mindfulness strategies may help:

  • Deep breathing from your stomach rather than from your chest: Whereas breathing from your chest results in shallow breaths that may increase anxiety, breathing with the focus on your belly may help you take deeper breaths. It can help to place one hand on your heart and the other hand on your belly during breathing exercises so that you can more easily notice whether your chest or your belly is rising and falling with each breath.
  • Get moving: Light exercise can help reduce anxiety in the moment, and exercise long-term can help stabilize and regulate your mood. This is because moving your body can help flush out stress chemicals, so trying yoga, going for a run, or opting for your favorite workout routine may be an effective way to curb a panic attack. 

However, if you’re experiencing trouble breathing or hyperventilation due to an incoming panic attack, prioritize catching your breath before attenting to boost your endorphins through exercise.

  • Engage with your environment using your 5 sense: Observe your environment using all 5 of your senses to center yourself in the present moment. This grounding technique uses sight, sound, feel, touch, and taste to practice mindfulness in moments of stress. 

You can take a walk in nature noticing the smell of the trees, the colors of the leaves, and the crunch of twigs beneath your feet, or you can practice this technique at home while cooking, taking a walk around the city, or while spending time with loved ones. 

  • Remind yourself that anxiety is temporary: Reminding yourself that your anxious and overwhelming feelings will not last forever may help calm your mind. Recognizing that you are having a panic attack and riding the wave instead of frantically attempting to stop it may help you feel better. 
  • Practice self-compassion: Anxiety can convince you that something is wrong with you or that your inability to conquer your panic attacks means you are weak. Instead of harnessing this kind of self-talk, remind yourself that you are not your thoughts and that your thoughts are distress signals sent by your brain. Everyone has negative thoughts sometimes, and they will pass.

As you feel your panic attack starting to subside, try to take note of any things in your life that may be acting as triggers. Recognizing and identifying your panic attack triggers can help you prepare for future panic attacks, or it can act as a guide for lifestyle changes that may make a difference.

Additionally, taking note of any strategies that prove to be successful in easing your anxiety during panic attacks can help you remember where to turn and what to do next time you feel your anxiety getting out of control. 

General Coping Strategies For People With Anxiety

If you have an anxiety disorder, you may experience symptoms of your anxiety very frequently, not just when you are having a panic attack. 

Common symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) include:

  • Being unable to relax and feeling tense, irritable, or nervous
  • Worrying immensely about the past or future
  • Feeling tearful
  • Being unable to sleep
  • Hypervigilance
  • Dry mouth
  • Chest pain, increased heart rate, or heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath

The tips above for easing the symptoms of panic attacks can also help reduce the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and other forms of anxiety. However, additional lifestyle changes may help reduce longer term symptoms of anxiety. 

Coping strategies that can help when you are feeling particularly anxious or stressed include:

  • Taking time to yourself and practicing self-care: Practicing yoga, listening to music, dancing, taking a bath, meditating, or turning to another hobby or activity that you enjoy can help put you in a positive mindset and may help clear your mind.
  • Eating regular, well-balanced meals: Skipping meals or leaving gaps in your diet can aggravate symptoms of anxiety, so maintaining a regular meal schedule and striving to make each meal well-balanced may help you feel better.
  • Making sure you get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation can aggravate your anxiety, too, and because sleep allows your body to relax, replenish, and repair itself, getting enough sleep is an important part of managing your anxiety. Developing proper sleep hygiene habits such as creating a regular sleeping schedule, unplugging from electronics before bed, and cultivating a relaxing bedtime routine can help improve the quality and duration of your rest.  
  • Practicing acceptance of the fact that you cannot control everything: Putting your stress into perspective and asking yourself if things are really as bad as you think they are may help you relax, and reminding yourself that you cannot control stress and anxiety all the time may help you accept your feelings. Seeking out support groups can help you understand that you aren’t alone in your feelings of anxiety and that others are fighting this battle alongside you.  

Sometimes, however, these coping strategies may not be enough to help you feel better or in control, in which case speaking with a professional may be a good idea.

Getting Professional Help

While these mindfulness techniques can be a powerful tool when managing panic attacks and anxiety, you may also benefit from professional help. 

Brightside is here to support you in every step of your mental healthcare journey. We help you get the care you need from the comfort of your own home. 

With Brightside, all you need to do is fill out our free online assessment — this helps us better understand your individual needs and concerns. From there, we can match you with a provider who will work with you to come up with a treatment plan best fit for you. 

If your treatment plan involves medication, your provider will analyze over 100 unique data points and match you with the right medication for your individual needs. Your medication will then be delivered right to your door. We also offer evidence-based therapy which can be used on it’s own or in combination with medication.

Brightside helps you feel better with treatments that work.

The Bottom Line

Feelings of anxiety can be overwhelming, discouraging, and extremely tough to deal with alone. If you or a family member are dealing with symptoms of an anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, or panic disorder, there are many coping strategies available to you

Taking time for yourself and doing things that you enjoy, like hobbies, activities, or exercise, can help clear your head and put you in a more positive mindset. Additionally, maintaining proper nutrition and getting adequate sleep can help you manage your anxiety and help improve your overall wellness. 

Mindfulness techniques like observing your environment with all 5 of your senses, journaling, or practicing deep breathing may also be an effective way to help calm your anxiety.  

That said, sometimes coping strategies are not enough to help you feel better, in which case it can be extremely beneficial to turn to a professional. This is where Brightside comes in. Brightside can pair you with an expert, caring provider who will help you form a personalized treatment plan including medication, therapy or both–all from the comfort of home.

 

 

Sources:

What Is an Anxiety Attack and How Do You Stop One? | DMC

5 ways to stop an anxiety spiral | Mayo Clinic

ADAA Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress | ADAA

 

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