Although it's normal to feel scared or anxious sometimes, anxiety attacks interfere with an otherwise normal life. An anxiety attack -- or episode of intense fear and worry -- can hit without warning, at any time. Fortunately, there are things that you do to take control and help the attack end quickly. Here are four steps to take if you feel yourself having an anxiety attack.
First, remind yourself that this is an anxiety attack and will pass, even if it doesn't feel like it will. This is not an easy step to take, because if you have never had an anxiety attack before, it can be very frightening. Telling yourself that it will be okay and that the anxiety attack is just temporary is a good step that will allow yourself to take control of the situation. Recognizing it is your mind making up this narrative will reveal that you have left the present moment and are racing into the future or pulling from the past.
Secondly, take deep breaths. Although this is something that may seem obvious, it's easy to forget when in the moment. Anxiety attacks often cause sufferers to feel short of breath, which can compound the anxiety. You can counteract it by breathing deeply from your stomach, inhaling and exhaling deeply. Learning grounding and breathing techniques can be a huge benefit to recovering quickly at the onset of an attack.
Third, ground yourself in the world around you. Find something in your surroundings to pay attention to and describe it to yourself. Even if you're in a mundane environment, the simple act of describing an ordinary object such as a chair or bed can help to return you to the present. Use all your senses to feel, view, and smell the world around you. This will help to take your mind off of any frightening things in the past or future, which could be triggering your anxiety. Meditation is a huge help in bringing your mind back to the present moment.
Fourth, if at all possible, continue any activity that you were doing before the attack. This will further help you to take your mind off of whatever is causing you anxiety and help your brain and body to move on. If you are having trouble continuing your prior activity, perhaps try one that is easier or more relaxing, such as reading or stretching. Yoga is a great way to calm and ground yourself as well.
Anxiety and anxiety attacks are not easy to live with. If you find yourself suffering from these attacks often or if they are interfering with your life, it may be time to see a doctor and attend therapy. A doctor will be glad to speak with you about any concerns you may have regarding anxiety and help you find ways to treat it or cope with it. Some of the possibilities include therapy and medication. Even so, anxiety attacks may not always be preventable. Hopefully these four tips can help you to get the worst of it under control and go on with your life. At High Expectations Counseling we specialize in working with clients that are experiencing high levels of anxiety. Call us today for a free 15 min consultation.