How To Stop An Anxiety Attack
People have this powerful idea to make the anxiety attack stop, Carbonell says, but you cant make it stop through force of will. However, if you look back at your history, you’ll see that every anxiety attack does indeed stop, even if it feels awful for a while.
Your best first step stopping an anxiety attack is to simply notice your symptoms and accept that you’re having an attack. This can be challenging if it’s one of your first anxiety attacks, but after that you’ll know more about what to expect.
How To Calm Your Anxiety Naturally
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder : Symptoms include exaggerated and persistent worry and tension, even when there is nothing to provoke it.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder : Symptoms include recurrent and unwanted thoughts , which are accompanied by repetitive actions to temporarily rid the obsessions.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder : Occurs after one experiences a terrifying event that results in grave physical or mental harm, such as abuse, violence, traumatic accidents or military combat.
- Social Phobias: Symptoms include excessive anxiety occurring in normal social situations. These phobias can be limited to only one fear or a generalized fear anytime one is around others. Specific social phobias include fear of crowds, fear of public speaking and fear of public restrooms.
Here are 8 ways to calm your anxiety naturally.
Stay In The Moment To Relieve Anxiety Attacks
Although your gut response might be to leave the stressful situation immediately, dont. Let your anxiety level come down, advises Carmin. Then you can decide if you want to leave or if theres a way to get back to whatever you were doing when the anxiety attack started. Staying in the moment will help you overcome anxiety, but its hard to do this at first.
Its one of the things I respect the most about people I work with, that they are taking the leap of faith and willing to do the things that terrify them, Carmin says. That takes a lot of courage.
Getting Through A Panic Attack At Night
Nighttime panic attacks or night terrors can be especially frightening because they have the same symptoms as regular panic attacks, except they wake you up from your sleep, making it difficult to get back to sleep at times. Theyre fairly common, but experts dont really know why they happen.
Its possible that our brains are still dealing with our anxieties and fears while were sleeping or that theres something genetic that increases a persons likelihood of experiencing them. Chronic stress, some medications, chronic physical illnesses, and consuming alcohol, cannabis, or caffeine can increase the chances of nighttime panic attacks.
To help deal with panic attacks that strike at night, I follow some of the same tips as listed above, but I also make sure to do a few things specifically for bedtime:
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine including reading, journaling, meditation, etc.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol or other substances before going to bed.
- Abstain from eating three hours before bedtime
- Make sure the room is cool, well ventilated, and darkwith as few distractions as possible.
- Take a hot shower or bath before going to bed to help the mind and body relax.
Squeeze A Stress Ball
If you’re prone to anxiety attacks, it might help to keep your hands busy in moments when you feel panic creeping in. You might want to stretch and play with some putty, handle a smooth stone, or squeeze a stress ball, if you have one.
As Masand says, “Keeping something in your hands can help connect you with the present moment and also acts as a stress reliever.”
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Ways To Calm An Anxiety Attack
1. Stay in the present moment
Anxiety tends to be a future-oriented state of mind. Instead of worrying about whats going to happen in the future, try to bring yourself back to the present. Ask yourself, Am I safe right now? Is there something I can do about the situation right now? If theres nothing you can do in the present, revisit your concerns later so that you arent getting thrown off track by distant scenarios.
2. Talk to yourself
When you sense a panic attack, remind yourself that what you are experiencing is anxiety and that you are not in real danger. You can even address the fear directly by practicing a response like I am not afraid or This too shall pass.
3. Meditation and mindful breathing
Pay attention to your breathing. Initially, it may be loud and fast try to consciously slow it down and breathe as deeply as you can. Redirect your thoughts to something positive so that you arent overwhelmed with negative thoughts. Give yourself affirmations, like saying I will be okay over and over again.
4. Be aware of your triggers
Self-awareness and increasing your knowledge about your mental health are crucial. The more aware you are of your triggers and how your anxiety starts, the easier it will be to get yourself through an attack.
5. H.A.L.T. your attack
6. Get up and do something
7. Follow the 3-3-3 rule
- Look around and name three things you see
- Name three sounds you hear
- Move three parts of your body
8. Watch a funny video
9. Stay away from sugar
How Do You Calm An Anxiety Attack
When anxiety strikes, its important to be aware of strategies that can help you calm down in the moment and manage or reduce your anxiety in the long term. Like many people, you may benefit from lifestyle changes such as eating a well-balanced diet, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake and simply taking time for yourself.
During an anxiety attack, there are also steps you can take to relax your mind and regain control of your thoughts.
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Acknowledge It And Write Down The Signs And Symptoms
Having an anxiety attack is definitely scary. It can also feel like a heart attack.
But once you know youre having an anxiety attack, acknowledge that it is happening.
Now, try to jot down a few of the symptoms, feelings, and thoughts you are experiencing. By writing it down, you can see it from a different perspective. This makes it less overwhelming.
Bring Your Focus To Your Breath
Panic attacks often cause racing thoughts that make it feel like you cant focus on anything. It can also cause shallow, labored breathing and a pounding heart rate. You can turn all of these problems around by focusing on taking deep breaths. Start with this strategy, called the 4-7-8 breath, developed by Dr. Andrew Weil
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
If you are able to deploy the 4-7-8 breath early on in the panic cycle, often you can interrupt it before it flares out of control. Remember, though, that the 4-7-8 breath is simply meant to reduce your arousal level. Its not about preventing a dangerous panic attack because, as was explained above, there was nothing dangerous to begin with.
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How To Calm An Anxiety Attack
Its important to note that not everyone who feels worried a lot has an anxiety disorder.
Feeling nervous or anxious is normal and can sometimes be good. For example, when you are about to give a presentation, or are overwhelmed with your work, or are lacking sleep and exercise, it can be easy to feel anxious.
But the dangerous part is when you consistently have a fear or a heavy feeling of anxiety.
What Causes Panic Disorder
While the exact causes are not known, what researchers do know is that panic disorder does sometimes run in families. And it is often seen in individuals who suffer from other anxiety disorders explains Cole.
For example, a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder may experience a panic attack when their schedule or compulsions are interrupted. Individuals who struggle with specific phobias are also susceptible to panic attacks. A person with an extreme fear of heights may experience a panic attack in a penthouse apartment.
And for someone with generalized anxiety disorder , a condition characterized by extreme fear or worry, the unending anxiety can escalate to a panic attack. People with post-traumatic stress disorder have a higher incidence of panic disorder than the general population. Illness or traumatic events increase the chances of panic attacks.
People with hyperthyroidism , mitral valve prolapse, and other conditions or diseases also may be more easily triggered.
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How To Deal With Panic Attacks
A panic attack is a feeling of sudden and intense anxiety.
Panic attacks can also have physical symptoms, including shaking, feeling disorientated, nausea, rapid, irregular heartbeats, dry mouth, breathlessness, sweating and dizziness.
The symptoms of a panic attack are not dangerous, but can be very frightening.
They can make you feel as though you are having a heart attack, or that you are going to collapse or even die.
Most panic attacks last somewhere from five minutes to half an hour.
Know What To Do For Calming A Panic Attack
Now you have some effective ways of calming a panic attack.
We understand its a highly unpleasant and scary thing to go through, which is why we hope the above tips have helped. But one of the most important things in handling an anxiety attack is to have the aid of a professional therapist.
With their help, you can learn even more effective ways of dealing with these panic attacks so they arent as detrimental to your life. In addition, they can help you pinpoint your sources of anxiety and give you effective ways to deal with them so your chances of anxiety attacks are decreased for the future.
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How To Get Treatment For Anxiety
Rose Hill Center has an onsite psychiatric residential treatment facility available for effectively combating extreme anxiety conditions. We offer a unique approach for those suffering from anxiety by providing therapeutic treatment in addition to clinical assistance. We use a mix of traditional psychotherapy measures and effective behavioral therapy tactics along with group, individual, and family therapy sessions.
If you are seeking effective ways to deal with an anxiety attack, our professionals at Rose Hill Center can offer some. Reach out to us by calling , and let us help you eliminate anxiety from your life.
Regain Control With Meditation
Meditation is another common intervention that can be helpful not only as a preventative measure to reduce anxiety on an ongoing basis, but also as a tool to re-establish your relationship with your thoughts, which becomes important during an attack.
It can help clients become an observing witness to the fluctuations of thought, realize they are not controlled by them, and consequently reduce symptoms, says Meredith Strauss, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker who specializes in treating anxiety and depression. By focusing on the breath, or the mantra, clients are distracted from disturbing thoughts dictated by the mind. They also learn to become non-judgmental of negative and distracting thoughts as they become a witness to their own thinking.
She also notes there are meditation apps available that help calm an anxious and overactive mind. Also, writing thoughts in a journal can also help the client vent and understand the origin of their feelings.
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Who Gets Panic Attacks
At least 6 million Americans suffer from panic attacks and panic disorder both conditions classified as anxiety disorders. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America , about 2-3% of Americans experience panic disorder in a given year and it is twice as common in women as in men. Panic disorder typically affects individuals when theyre in their 20s but is also seen in young children, adolescents, and older adults.
Challenge Your Negative Thoughts
Changing your thoughts is always easier said than done, especially when youre in the middle of a panic attack. But the more often you practice replacing negative, scary thoughts with ones that are more positive, the easier it will become.
People with panic tend to catastrophize or see the worst in things, Masand says. For example, if youre panicking while on the subway, it might be because youre vividly imagining something going wrong, even when everythings a-OK.
Carry some positive mantras or sayings to bring you back to reality, Masand says. Or better yet, prepare your own. When you have the negative thoughts of gloom and doom, write down some positive and more realistic rebuttals.
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Find Activities That Reduce Stress
Its important to incorporate activities into your routine that help reduce stress, and its effects on the body.
Exercise releases endorphins, a natural chemical that makes you feel happy, into the body. Consistent exercise has been linked to a reduction in stress and tension, an improvement in sleep, and a more stabilized mood. In conjunction with therapy and prescribed medication, exercise can provide you with additional control over your anxiety and panic disorder.
Combinations of hand movements and mantras can help the patient immediately reduce anxiety.
Strauss recommends yoga, specifically, for its ability to calm and ground a person whos been triggered or may feel a panic attack coming on.
Yoga is an excellent tool that often helps people understand how the mind and body are linked. Body awareness helps us understand the bodys response to anxiety and how to ease those symptoms, she says. Certain combinations of hand movements, called mudras in yoga, combined with a mantra can help the patient almost immediately reduce anxiety.
Hand movement examples include putting your palms together in a prayer-like motion, and touching your thumb to your pinky and ring fingers. If people have trouble with the Sanskrit syllables, I redirect them to simply chant, I am O-K, and this seems to work just as well, says Strauss.