I’ll start by saying that I am not a psychologist or mental health expert. All the tips and suggestions I am sharing about how to manage anxiety attacks instantly are based on my personal experience, study, and advice provided by experts. And I am also going to share expert help resources at the bottom of this blog post.
What anxiety attack feels like?
Everyone is going to experience anxiety differently. In my experience anxiety attack feels like doom, feels like everything is ending and nothing can ever be okay. It feels like I am gasping for air and if I don’t breathe as much as possible with an audible noise, I wouldn’t be able to breathe at all.
Whenever I am experiencing an anxiety attack I want that feeling to go as soon as I experience it the longer it feels that way the more it seems like I’ll not be okay any time soon or maybe ever again. In most situations, I immediately start breathing as deeply and slowly as possible. Deep breathing feels Instinctive to me. But it only helps a little because the feeling of impending doom doesn’t go anywhere until what’s causing this gets resolved.
According to MayoClinic if the feeling of sudden anxiety and fear reaches a peak in a few minutes, is known as a panic attack1Anxiety disorders – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961. And the person may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, or even pain in the chest and the feeling of doom.
A nurse practitioner in Behavioral Health Siri Kabrick in an article from MayoClinic Health System mentions the symptoms of anxiety as “feelings of nervousness and helplessness, sweating, hyperventilation sense of danger or doom, trembling, increase in the heart rate, and obsessive thinking about the triggers.”211 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder – Mayo Clinic Health System. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/11-tips-for-coping-with-an-anxiety-disorder
How To Manage Anxiety Attack Easy And Effectively
You can try these suggestions step by step to help you calm down and reduce anxiety. Few of them are already known by many and also suggested by many mental health professionals and mental health blogs as an effective way of controlling anxiety.
Deep But Slow Breathing
Well, panic breathing might not help but controlled and slow breathing can help your body signal your brain that everything is fine and you are safe and it can also calm your heart rate. You don’t have to take deep breaths in a certain way but you can time it by counting on your fingers or in your mind. If you are counting as your breath in your mind then it can also help keep your mind busy.
Meditation can also be helpful, click here to read about Top 5 Meditations That Works For Anxiety.
Start Writing Positive Affirmations
Writing something good and positive can also help because it keeps your mind busy and prevents overthinking. It will be best if you make affirmations by yourself and then write it down instead of reading affirmations from an app or website and writing it down.
Reading affirmations and then writing them down might not keep your mind as busy as it would if you make the affirmations in your head and then write them down. And if you don’t feel like writing affirmations then you can write anything good you can think of because the goal is to keep your mind busy to few minutes in a situation of extreme anxiety.
If you’d still prefer to read then these positive affirmations has got your back
- 55 Powerful Affirmations For Anxiety
- 30 Short Positive Affirmations To Challenge Negativity
- Positive Affirmations For The Day: 20 Good Thought Fuel
Try A Short Mindfulness Exercise
According to a research published in Wiley Online Library from 2019 mindfulness is significantly effective as a cognitive therapy for anxiety disorders.3Effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in patients with …. https://keio.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/effectiveness-of-mindfulness-based-cognitive-therapy-in-patients-
So it is good to engage in mindfulness practice but if you are at the verge of extreme anxiety attack or panic attack then this mindfulness exercise can help you a lot to calm down. We can consider this as mindfulness observation exercise.
- Pick a green object in your vicinity and look at it and observe it for a minute. (if something green is not available then pick any object around you but the green is relaxing and makes us feel connected to nature).
- Then shift your focus on a sound coming from somewhere far, for example the sound of traffic, rain, even the sound of a fan would work. Focus on that one sound for a minute.
- If possible depending on the situation and setting you are in, get something to eat or drink. Even water will work just fine. Experience the taste as you drink that water or anything that is accessible to you at the moment.
- Now touch something, wood, fabric, anything of texture, and really feel it for a minute using your sense of touch.
- No sniff your perfume or your hair, your handkerchief or candle or whatever you can find. The point is to engage your sense of smell.
By using all your 5 senses to focus in the present you’ll be able to shift your focus from your thoughts into reality.
Reverse Map Feeling To Find The Cause Of Anxiety
This will require a little bit of practical thinking, think about how exactly you are feeling and if the reason that caused you to feel this way is really worth it! And even if it is worth feeling this way think about how this can solve and change the situation.
There are no actual steps to do this but the point of reverse mapping feelings is to get to understand what caused you to feel that way and what is the solution to reduce that feeling. This might not be a good solution for everybody especially those who overthink but it can be helpful in situations where you want to get to the root of the anxiety causing feeling and solve it.
Analyzing If The Cause Of Anxiety Is Something You Can Or Can’t Control
This is the second step to the reverse mapping feelings, because if you can control the things that are causing you anxiety then you can actually work on creating a plan to solve it but if you can’t control it then it is better to let go. And in the scenario where you can’t control is mindfulness practices can still help you stay calm and hopeful.
Drink Cold Water
Drink a really cold glass of water, it calms down the whole system and will make you feel very hydrated. I don’t know how but it works but it is not advised to drink extremely cold water if someone is sensitive to cold or suffer from heart conditions because it can be a potential trigger for cardiac arrhythmia according to a published in Forensic Medicine And Pathology Journals4Sudden Death After a Cold Drink: Case Report : The American Journal of …. https://journals.lww.com/amjforensicmedicine/Abstract/1999/03000/Sudden_Death_After_a_Cold_Drink__Case_Report.9.aspx.
Hold Something That Gives A Sense of comfort and safety
This is also a great option to shift your focus and calm yourself down. You can hold anything of value to you or it can be a soft toy or anything that can give you a sense of safety as well as sensory relaxation would work.
Listen To Calming Music
Specially Lofi music can be especially great if you experience frequent anxiety issues. Lofi music is usually in loops and is very calming at the same time they also stimulate the brain just enough to get rid of stress. The chill and calming vibe of lofi music helps a lot. And I always listen to them to relax and unwind a lot.
Most of the music used in Loa Lab’s Subliminals are in fact Lofi. Loa Lab also has a subliminal for anxiety with lofi music in it which can be played in loop.
- 1Anxiety disorders – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961
- 211 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder – Mayo Clinic Health System. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/11-tips-for-coping-with-an-anxiety-disorder
- 3Effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in patients with …. https://keio.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/effectiveness-of-mindfulness-based-cognitive-therapy-in-patients-
- 4Sudden Death After a Cold Drink: Case Report : The American Journal of …. https://journals.lww.com/amjforensicmedicine/Abstract/1999/03000/Sudden_Death_After_a_Cold_Drink__Case_Report.9.aspx