*If you’re having an anxiety attack right now and need instant tips to calm yourself down, scroll down to ‘Overcoming and Controlling an Anxiety Attack – Naturally’*
Do you know what to do in an anxiety attack? If you’ve experienced one yourself, you know that when it comes down to it, in all truth there’s no real way to stop an anxiety attack.
Luckily, there are ways to manage and control them attacks as they happen. While I can’t tell you how to prevent an anxiety attack (that’s a topic for another post!), dealing with it as it happens is very manageable and possible – and all it takes is a bit of practice!
Remember, everything I’m telling you is from my own experiences – so if this works for me, it can definitely work for you too.
The Best Anxiety Management Techniques
Let’s say you’re having an anxiety attack right now (or you’re trying to help someone calm down from an anxiety attack).
The situation is tense, you can’t think straight. It’s difficult to breathe. The panic is increasing, and you have no idea what to do. Your vision is fading in and out. You feel like you’re going to die. You’re helpless, and noone can help you, even if they’re trying.
If this sounds familiar to you, there are a couple of things you need to know.
There Are No Cures for Anxiety Attacks
This may sound harsh, but hear me out:
There are no cures for anxiety attacks.
It’s true. Anxiety attacks can only be prevented, but not cured. Even if you choose to use medication to relieve an anxiety attack, you are teaching yourself to rely on that, rather than deal with the problem itself, and therefore, have fewer in the long run. Therefore, it’s way better to know how to manage anxiety attacks, if and when they do happen.
Another important thing: Don’t fight it. Take it from my experience: the more you struggle against it, the worse it’s going to get. Example: if you feel your whole body shaking, and try to stop it rather than let it flow, the shaking is only going to get worse. I’ve been there and done that – all while I was trapped on a plane. Long story short: do not fight the anxiety attack.
Luckily, knowing how to control an anxiety attack naturally will help you ‘the next time’. And that’s where I step in.
Overcoming and Controlling an Anxiety Attack – Naturally
Are you ready? This is how you handle an anxiety attack, and teach it who’s boss.
Do these in any order, if you need, and as many times as you feel you need to.
Remember- don’t fight it. Ride that anxiety attack wave.
(For online professional help, try out this Anxiety Module)
Can’t catch a breath?
Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4. Hold it for the count of 3. Breathe out for the count of 4. Repeat until you’ve manage to control your anxiety attack.
Watch this video: Breathe in as the shape unfolds, hold and then breathe out as it folds back in:
Distract yourself. If you’re with someone, tell them about your day, or your life, or that weird dream you had a few days ago.
If you’re by yourself – notice and tell yourself (say it loud, who cares what other people think?):
- Describe everything that you see around you, with specific details (‘the red car has a scratch on the left-hand mirror…’)
- Describe the kind of activity is happening around you (there are people sitting on the train, one is reading an article about…, someone is scratching their back…’)
- Can you find any animals? What type of animals are there, and how many of them are there?
- Listen to the type of sounds you can hear. What are they? Where are they coming from? Are there any interesting or unexpected sounds?
I used to carry water everywhere for this reason, but it’s always a good idea to stay hydrated as part of a clean, healthy lifestyle.
Why sipping water, you ask? Well, your throat can’t breathe AND swallow at the same time. By sipping water, you’re forcing yourself to take a breath afterwards.
Plus, sipping water is a very therapeutic activity. And, if you’re crying or losing bodily fluids, you need to restore those ASAP. because why make yourself feel worse than you already do?
The same as the above. Singing forces you to regulate your breathing, and also distracts you. So finally you have an excuse to sing that catchy song that’s been in your head all day long. Get singing – out loud is best, so you’ll be inhaling and exhaling at the same time.
Listen to Music
For a similar reason to the above – this will help you distract yourself. Listening to music is an instant mood changer, and, with the right song, gives you happy memories. Meaning, you get to focus on the memory related to the music, and practising great anxiety attack management at the same time!
Go to the Toilet
I don’t know about you, but when I’m having an anxiety attack, it feels like everything is going to burst out of body all at once. And, if I’m in a public place, I don’t want to embarrass myself.
Having said that, the feeling of relief once everything that needs to come out has gone…helps. It definitely makes stopping an anxiety attack easier, let me tell you.
So, if you feel the need, find a toilet. Do what you need to do. We’re all human, and you’ll be glad you did it afterwards (and feel a bit better!).
Remember, anxiety attacks are usually our mind’s silly response to a feeling or symptom. If you can relieve that feeling or symptom, you’re already winning.
Talk to Someone
The best method of distraction there is, and it will make you feel like someone is partly in this with you. One of the worst things about having anxiety attacks is feeling like you’re all alone. So, make a new friend on the bus, or train, or call an old friend from somewhere quiet while you ride it out. Either way, sharing is caring.
Walk or Jump
This one is my favorite and my number 1 tip to stop an anxiety attack.
Go for a walk. If you’re too weak to walk, jump as many times as you can.
You know why? It’s mostly for distraction. There’s a lot of adrenalin pumping through your veins during anxiety attacks, and walking/jumping gets rid of it, and quickly.
But the best thing about walking or jumping? It regulates your breathing and clears your mind. Think about it – if you’re walking fast or jumping, eventually you’re going to have to breathe. So there’s no better time to do it. It’ll help your body stop shaking, at the very least. So give it a go!
I really hope this has helped you, whether you are looking for ways to calm anxiety attacks, or if you’re looking for how to deal with someone having an anxiety attack.
Please let me know if this has helped you in the comments – and remember – sharing is caring, but in this case it could also help out someone else out – so please share, share, share to your social groups!
All the best,
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Also published on Medium.