How To Calm Down Quickly
Something sets you off, and before long, you feel stuck in an endless loop of intrusive thoughts, pondering every possible thing that could go wrong. Your body tenses, your breathing quickens, and you can hear your heartbeat pounding in your ears.
When you feel anxiety kick in like this, its time to calm yourself down. The first step is awareness. Its a good idea to learn to recognize the first signs of anxiety and get to work right away before experiencing an episode.
Do I Have An Anxiety Disorder
If you identify with any of the following seven signs and symptoms, and they just wont go away, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder:
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Stress Hormones Are Limited In What They Can Do
Even though anxiety attacks can feel powerful, stress responses and the hormones they produce are limited in what they can do. While they can prepare the body for emergency action, stress responses cant cause you to snap and lose your mind, cant cause a mental breakdown, cant cause you to do something you dont want to do, dont last forever, and will end.
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Find A Therapist To Help You Cope
If anxiety impedes your ability to live a healthy, productive life, its essential to seek professional help to curtail the progressive nature of anxiety and panic disorders. There, you can help determine the root causes and take effective steps toward management. Psychotherapy which address mental disorders via psychological instead of medical means is a common treatment, notes Strauss.
There are often limiting negative beliefs that contribute to the genesis of anxiety, and psychotherapy can help the client track and challenge the automatic thoughts that accompany the emotions of anxiety and fear, she explains. Its important that one tries to learn the skills to cope with anxiety in addition to consider the use of medication. Treatment modalities like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy , Dialectical Behavioral Therapy , Internal Family Systems, EMDR, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Interpersonal Therapy can all be used to help the client become increasingly more aware of what triggers anxiety.
Over time, you will be better equipped to identify these negative thought patterns as they arise, and be able to nip them in the bud, instead of having them spiral out of control.
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Whats The Outlook For People With Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders can often go undiagnosed and untreated. Fortunately, treatment can help. The right treatment can help improve your quality of life, relationships and productivity. It can also support your overall well-being.
You dont need to live with constant worry and fear. If you notice symptoms of an anxiety disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. Its best to get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Doing so can limit the problems that anxiety disorders can cause. Often, a combination of medications and counseling for anxiety can help you feel your best.
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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.
Match Your Support To Their Preferences And Attachment Style
Its best to ask someone what type of support they prefer rather than guess! However, we know from research that people who have an avoidant attachment style are likely to respond best to strong displays of concrete practical support. That could include helping the anxious person break tasks down into manageable steps, or talking through specific options for how to deal with a difficult situation, like how to respond to an angry email, but still acknowledging their autonomy and independence while doing so.
Other people are more likely to prefer emotional support, especially those who are securely attached, or who have a preoccupied attachment style due to a fear of being abandoned or of their emotions being overwhelming to others. Folks like this respond well to statements emphasizing that theyre part of a tight teamfor example, their supporter saying, This is tough but we love each other and well get through it together.
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Calming The Breath To Stop An Anxiety Attack
When you have an anxiety attack, your body goes into fight or flight mode. One of the best ways to take your body back into rest and relaxation is to focus on calming the breath.
One of my favorite exercises is something called four-square breathing. If you look around youll see some type of a square or rectangle. It might be a photo, door, window, or computer.
All of these squares can be used as a guide to controlling your breath. To do this exercise, start at the lower left-hand corner of a square and breath in slowly until your eyes reach the top of the square. Hold your breath as you look across the square and breathe out slowly as your eyes look down the opposite side of the square. Your eyes will end up in the lower right-hand corner. Hold your breath as you look across and begin the process again as you start to inhale next to the lower left-hand corner.
You can do this over and over until you feel your breath naturally becoming calmer.
Write Down Your Thoughts
Writing down whats making you anxious gets it out of your head and can make it less daunting.
These relaxation tricks are particularly helpful for those who experience anxiety sporadically. They may also work well with someone who has generalized anxiety disorder when theyre in a bind too!
However, if you suspect you have GAD, quick coping methods shouldnt be the only kind of treatment you employ. Youll want to find long-term strategies to help lessen the severity of symptoms and even prevent them from happening.
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How Does Psychotherapy Treat Anxiety Disorders
Psychotherapy, or counseling, helps you deal with your emotional response to the illness. A mental health provider talks through strategies to help you better understand and manage the disorder. Approaches include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common type of psychotherapy used with anxiety disorders. CBT for anxiety teaches you to recognize thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings. You then work on changing them.
- Exposure therapy focuses on dealing with the fears behind the anxiety disorder. It helps you engage with activities or situations you may have been avoiding. Your provider may also use relaxation exercises and imagery with exposure therapy.
Alternative Anxiety Attack Definition
Earlier we mentioned that “anxiety attack” is not a medical term, but rather a descriptive term for intense moments of anxiety. Most people, including some medical professionals, refer to panic attacks as anxiety attacks simply because it is easier for people to understand. When you say panic, people tend to think of someone running away from Godzilla. When you term them anxiety attacks, people tend to understand it better.
But because anxiety attack is not a medical term, not everyone uses it the same way. Some people use anxiety attack as a way of describing severe symptoms of other anxiety disorders. For example, those with obsessive-compulsive disorder may have an “anxiety attack” when they encounter a trigger of extreme anxiety that forces them deep into their compulsions. Those with an upcoming test in school may call their significant worry about the test an anxiety attack even though theyre really just talking about being very nervous.
Keep this in mind when people describe anxiety attack, as the term may lead to a bit of miscommunication. For the purposes of this article, however, were talking about panic attacks, because panic attacks are a very real, very common anxiety problem that most people are referring to when they say they have these attacks.
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How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated
An anxiety disorder is like any other health problem that requires treatment. You cant will it away. Its not a matter of self-discipline or attitude. Researchers have made a lot of progress in the last few decades in treating mental health conditions. Your healthcare provider will tailor a treatment plan that works for you. Your plan may combine medication and psychotherapy.
Hanging Out With Friends
Relationships matter even for us introverts, says Stone. Research also tells us that isolating is one of the worst things for anxiety and depression.
So, consider making time for friends, family, and other social engagements.
Put yourself in social situations at least weekly as a part of your self-discipline to help you build community over time, says Stone.
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Ask Them What They Need Before It Happens
Okay, this kinda seems obvious, but it will help you so much. If your friend has a history of panic attacks, you may want to have the conversation about what they need ahead of time. Would they be okay with physical contact? Would they want you to get them away from other people, if possible? Having them write a list of what helps them in the moment can really come in handy when they have a panic attack.
Buuut life isnt always that simple, and sometimes a friend with zero history of panic attacks can experience their first when youre around. Or, they didnt tell you about it, because its mental health and sometimes people arent comfortable sharing stuff like that. If thats the case, you can also ask them what they need as it happens.
Phobias And Irrational Fears
A phobia is an unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that in reality presents little to no danger. Common phobias include fear of animals , fear of flying, and fear of needles. In the case of a severe phobia, you might go to extreme lengths to avoid the object of your fear. Unfortunately, avoidance only strengthens the phobia.
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Calming Step : Have A Script Ready
A panic attack can fill your head with racing, negative thoughts, which can keep the panic going and make you feel worse. But you can wield a powerful weapon against them: A script of positive thoughts.
Write down encouraging words you can read to yourself during a panic attack, Dr. Josell says. Your script should answer the negative thoughts. So if you feel like youre going to pass out, tell yourself you wont. If you feel like youre dying, tell yourself you wont die from a panic attack. The words you hear are powerful, and over time, they become your truth.
Ideally, write your script when youre feeling calm. Tuck it in your pocket or purse or type it into your smartphone notes so its easy to access.
If youre in the middle of a panic attack and dont have your script, you can fight negative thoughts on the fly. Try repeating in your mind or out loud phrases like, Im strong, and I can handle this, or This is only temporary, and it will pass.
Your script helps you deal with an attack that arises, but its a preventive measure, too. It can calm your fear of having another panic attack because you know youre in control. The more confident you are that you can manage a panic attack, the less likely you are to have future attacks.
How To Stop An Anxiety Attack Fast
If youve ever had a panic attack, youve likely wondered how to stop an anxiety attack fast.
Anxiety attacks can be scary. Many of my clients tell me that they are afraid that they are “going crazy” or “losing control”.
Im a therapist for anxiety, and I help clients who struggle with regular panic attacks find their way back to calm again.
In this post, Ill cover some of the common causes of panic attacks and how to stop anxiety attacks fast.
The sweating, shaking, racing heart and shortness of breath that accompany panic episodes can leave you feeling out of control and drained.
Though these feelings and sensations are uncomfortable, they are symptoms that are typical of panic episodes, and they will pass. Approaching anxiety with fear or dread will only make symptoms worse.
Understanding what a panic attack is will help reduce fear AND give you the keys to stopping your panic attack as quickly as possible.
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All Panic Attacks End
No matter how powerful the anxiety attack, it will end. We can end them faster by doing some or all of the above. Nevertheless, all anxiety attacks end. Its only a matter of time.
No one experiences unending anxiety attacks even though sometimes it can feel that way. Riding out the anxiety attack knowing it will end can help you remain calm, which also shuts off the stress response and anxiety attack.
What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder
With GAD, you may feel extreme and unrealistic worry and tension even if theres nothing to trigger these feelings. Most days, you may worry a lot about various topics, including health, work, school and relationships. You may feel that the worry continues from one thing to the next.
Physical symptoms of GAD can include restlessness, difficulty concentrating and sleeping problems.
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