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What To Do To Distract Yourself From Anxiety

Is It Panic Disorder

6 Ways To Distract Yourself From Panic

If you feel constantly stressed and anxious, particularly about when your next panic attack may be, you may have panic disorder.

People with panic disorder may avoid situations that might cause a panic attack. They may also fear and avoid public spaces .

“There’s no quick fix, but if your attacks are happening time after time, seek medical help,” says Professor Salkovskis.

Read more about panic attacks, including personal stories, at See Me Scotland.

Remember That It Will Pass

During a panic attack, it can help to remember that these feelings will pass and cause no physical harm, however scary it feels at the time.

Try acknowledging that this is a brief period of concentrated anxiety, and that it will be over soon.

Panic attacks tend to reach their most intense point within 10 minutes of their onset, and then the symptoms will begin to subside.

How To Mindfully Refocus Your Attention

Distraction is really referring to the practice of mindfully refocusing your attention. This is where we break the chain of worried thinking and rumination by doing something else, preferably physical. Im sure youve been there. A worried thought has popped into your mind and before you know it that thought has snowballed into a hundred other negative thoughts. That mild pain in your ankle has become something closer to bone cancer. Or that strange noise on the airplane is a failing engine. This is known as catastrophizing or catastrophic thinking. Rumination is where we get trapped inside these kinds of thoughts and suddenly find that hours have gone by and weve worked ourselves into feeling really anxious, all because of that first thought we had in the beginning.

Instead, try mindfully refocusing your attention by quickly changing your activity so that your brain has to stop and take notice of what youre doing. It can be anything but physical activities work best as your brain has to literally stop for a moment and recalibrate. Even five minutes of focusing on something else can break the pattern and free up your mind.

Here are my five personal favorite ways of mindfully refocusing:

  • Stepping outside for a few minutes to walk the dog or even just look up at the sky

  • Counting ten blue things in my environment

  • Turning on a favourite, mood-boosting song

  • Lighting a candle and watching the flame

  • Recording three things I am grateful for in a gratitude journal.

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    Understanding Healthy Ways To Distract Yourself

  • 1Know that distraction can be an unhealthy response. Distraction is a mechanism used to avoid dealing with difficulties and feelings in our lives. Some distractions that are considered unhealthy include eating junk food when stressed or turning to alcohol or drugs. For example, if you have an anger management problem, you might turn to drugs to handle your overwhelming feelings.
  • 2
  • Aromatherapy And Essential Oils

    10 Weird Activities to Distract Yourself From Anxiety

    Essential oils, the extract from plants, have been used for thousands of years to treat a number of conditions, including anxiety. Essential oils activate certain areas of your brain and release feel-good chemicals such as serotonin. They have been found to ease symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression, improve mood, and improve sleep.

    Recommended use includes diffusing, inhalation, or topical treatment which can aid with anxiety symptoms. When diffusing an essential oil or essential oil blend you will need an essential oil diffuser to fill your space with the desired scent. Inhalation is used by deeply smelling the essential oil straight from the bottle or by applying a drop or two of the oil on something such as a diffuser pad or lava bead that is connected to a bracelet, necklace, or even keychain. You can also place a drop or two of essential oil into your hands, rub them together, then cup your hands and take a few deep inhalations to get the desired effect.

    You should be sure that the essential oils you use are pure oils and not mixed with chemicals. Some good brands to use include: Mountain Rose Herbs, Plant Therapy, Young Living, Doterra. You can do your own research to find a brand that will best work for you and your budget. Remember that a bottle of essential oil will last a long time since you typically use only a few drops at a time.

    Essential oils that are great for treating anxiety include:

    • Lavender
    • Vetiver

    Recommended Reading: Does Topamax Help With Anxiety

    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.

    Stop The Negative Self

    Depressed people tend to see the world in a negative way. When things go wrong, they blame themselves, and when they go right, they put it down to luck. Depression reinforces self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness.

    Monitor your inner negative talk and make allowances for this type of thinking by reminding yourself that your thinking is being clouded by your depression. Dont take your thoughts seriously when you are feeling low. Acknowledge the thoughts, but this doesnt mean you have to believe them.

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    Connect With Friends And Family

    This can be one of the hardest things to do when feeling depressed, but it is one of the most rewarding activities. Isolating oneself from others may seem like a good idea, but put a limit on it and then get out there again.

    Confiding in friends and family members can have a huge positive effect on your mood.

    Activities To Distract Yourself From Your Anxiety

    Distract Yourself from Anxiety with Silliness | HealthyPlace
  • Get your heart pumping, lungs breathing deeply, muscles working, and positive hormones flowing. Walk. Jog. Run stairs. Jump rope. Swim. Move your body any way you are able and you enjoy. Think of it as sweating the anxiety out of you. Even light exercise can relieve anxiety.
  • Make something. You can use creativity to reduce anxiety. Tap into your creativity without any expectations for the result. Just create for the sake of it. Maybe you’ll build a birdhouse or flower box. Paint . Make a blanket, perhaps. Or many blankets. A lot of hospitals and nursing homes ask for donations of homemade blankets to comfort people mentally and physically.
  • Learn something new. Browse a bookstore and gather a few books on a topic that sounds interesting to you. You can do this at a library, too. You can explore on your own with no pressure to perform. If you enjoy classes and preparing work for a grade, that is a great distraction, too .
  • Care for something. If you don’t have a pet and having one is feasible, there are many small animals that are low-maintenance and easy to care for. If that’s not an option, you might consider volunteering at a humane society. Or tend to plants and flowers.
  • Wash your car or bike. Washing by hand is cleansing for your vehicle and your mind. The suds are symbolic of washing away thoughts. It’s great exercise, too.
  • Also Check: How To Get Through An Anxiety Attack Alone

    Take Care Of Your Physical Needs

    Don’t focus on what’s freaking you out. Take care of your physical needs first. Haven’t showered/shaved? Do it. Dishes? Done. Laundry? Folded and put away. Small real-world accomplishments help bring me out of my head and back to reality. It’s also really uplifting to feel clean and sexy once in a while. Feel free to pamper yourself when cleaning. Bath bomb away. Homemade spa days are the greatest.

    Holly Drummond, via Facebook

    A therapist once told me to schedule my worrying. I know a lot of people with anxiety disorders tend to overthink everything. We’re experts at contingency plans, but this process often becomes obsessive and only makes you more anxious. She told me to schedule a time during the week where I allow myself to worry and think to my heart’s content. Knowing I have a specific time to do that helped me let it go the rest of the week.

    Get Outside In Nature

    Going for long walks, especially at night the night air is so refreshing, the sounds of nature drown out everything around me, and the exercise is good and helps me get to sleep at night. Also remember to just go outside. Fresh air can help loosen those barbed wire knots keeping you locked within yourself.

    Holly Drummond, via Facebook

    I’ll call a friend. Most of the people in my life are aware of my anxiety, so when I feel panic coming on, I know that I can call someone and have them talk me down out of the attack.

    Tiffany Soriano, via Facebook

    Elena Montalbano, via Facebook

    We created a Gratitude and Calm Pinterest board, if you’d like some suggestions.

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    Tip : Distinguish Between Solvable And Unsolvable Worries

    Research shows that while youre worrying, you temporarily feel less anxious. Running over the problem in your head distracts you from your emotions and makes you feel like youre getting something accomplished. But worrying and problem solving are two very different things.

    Problem solving involves evaluating a situation, coming up with concrete steps for dealing with it, and then putting the plan into action. Worrying, on the other hand, rarely leads to solutions. No matter how much time you spend dwelling on worst-case scenarios, youre no more prepared to deal with them should they actually happen.

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    10 Weird Activities to Distract Yourself From Anxiety

    Distracting ourselves from emotional struggle gives our minds and bodies a break. It allows the nervous system to relax and get out of fight-or-flight mode. Once this happens, we will start to be able to think through our problems more clearly and come to better solutions.

    Distraction can be anything from taking yourself on a walk, putting down your phone or sitting down to watch a television show. Active activities e.g. those you have to properly engage with are probably the best to turn to if youre feeling particularly distressed, such as doing a creative activity like drawing or painting, or taking yourself to the gym or for a run.

    Described by King as the first step in learning to establish a sense of safety and control over our inner lives, distraction is a powerful skill for all of us to learn and master.

    Once you can regulate the intensity of your own emotions, life begins to feel less turbulent and overwhelming, says King. Emotions begin to feel less scary because you will have your hand on the lever controlling how strongly you experience them, and have a reliable way out if it gets to be too much.

    Engaging in positive, non-destructive activities to give you some mental clarity is the best thing you can do for your mental health when it all gets a bit too much. So next time youre feeling particularly stressed and upset, dont beat yourself up for putting your problems to the side for a bit.

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    Practice Stoicism And Live Your Worst Fear

    Whatever is causing you anxiety will hold on to you unless you actively let it go. The fears surrounding your anxiety will lie dormant eating away at you until you finally give in. Stoicism philosophy dictates that the best way to overcome a fear is to live it briefly. If your anxiety is caused over a fear of being poor for example then live a day role-playing not having any cash. Experience the pain and hardships. You will often find that the experience isnt as devastating as you play it out to be in your mind. You therefore gain perspective and overcome your anxiety. Here are some anxiety related fears that you can overcome with stoicism:

    • Anxiety over losing wealth
    • Stress over approaching girls
    • Anxiety over public speaking

    Another great way to use stoicism is by applying it to your symptoms of anxiety. This term is coined exposure therapy and essentially involves mimicking the symptoms of your anxiety. This is so that you mind no longer associates such symptoms with your stress. Examples include:

    • Sweating if you usually sweat when you are anxious, then go into a sauna
    • Rapid heart rate do sport such that your hear rate increases

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    Donna Jefferson is a writer, editor, and health and wellness enthusiast covering topics on parenting and senior health. Donna leads a fairly active lifestyle and enjoys sweating it out at the gym or going on hikes with friends during her free time.

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    Signs Of A Panic Attack

    When a panic attack occurs, you may feel overwhelmed by the uncomfortable physical sensations of the attack. Common somatic complaints include:

    • Chest pain
    • Tingling or numbness
    • Trembling

    These physical sensations may lead to a greater sense of fear and anxiety, as the person experiencing these panic symptoms worries that they will lose control, embarrass themself, or even possibly face medical issues due to their symptoms.

    Find What Relaxes You

    How Can I Distract Myself in a Panic Attack: 3 Simple Steps for Quick Relief

    There are already things in your life that relax you. You may find it beneficial to make a list of things you enjoy and that help you to relax so you can reference it when symptoms of anxiety arise. When you notice your anxiety rising turn to those activities to help stop symptoms before they escalate.

    For example, if you find that a warm bath is relaxing, don’t wait, draw a bath, maybe light some candles or add a few nice scents and get in. Whether it’s a bath, a shower, skipping stones at a park, getting a massage – if it works, do it right away, rather than allowing yourself to become overwhelmed by your anxiety.

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    Six Types Of Distraction

    Ive divided distraction into six categories. You might come up with other ways to group them but this is just a way that Ive found useful. Below are examples in each category but there are many others I didnt list. Use the list as a starting not an ending point.

    • Stress-reduction meditation, visualization, diaphragmatic breathing

    • Physical activity running, walking, lifting weights, biking outside, spinning

    • Hobbies/Leisure gardening, knitting, building models, woodworking, painting, playing music, genealogy, dancing, writing, journaling.

    • Mentally engaging tasks Sudoku, Scrabble, crosswords, online games

    • Social activities meeting with friends, visiting family, spending time with children, going someplace with other people like a café or bookstore.

    • Routine activities house chores, cleaning, running errands, working on home improvement.

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