5 Tips on How to Calm an Anxiety Attack
Want to learn how you can quickly calm your body when experiencing anxiety? Read on to learn more. Schedule with one of our therapists if you are looking to learn ways to effectively manage your anxiety today!
Anxiety attacks can be a terrifying experience, and it's not uncommon for people to feel completely helpless during such episodes. What happens in the body when you experience and anxiety attack is your fight or flight nervous system activates in the absence of a threat, which is a terrifying experience for your mind - there is nothing to run from or fight! Fortunately, there are a few techniques that can help calm anxiety attacks and make them more manageable. Here are some tips on how to calm an anxiety attack.
Recognize the symptoms: The first step in calming an anxiety attack is to recognize its symptoms. Common symptoms include a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, and a feeling of impending doom. Once you realize that you're experiencing an anxiety attack, you can start taking steps to manage it.
Practice deep breathing: Deep breathing is a simple and effective way to calm anxiety attacks. Start by taking a slow, deep breath through your nose, and then slowly exhaling through your mouth. Repeat this process several times until you begin to feel more relaxed. This works because when you slow your breath you are sending a message to the part of your brain that triggers your fight or flight (the amygdala) that there is no threat and you are okay.
Use grounding techniques: Grounding techniques can help you feel more present in the moment and less overwhelmed by your anxiety. Try to focus on your surroundings by identifying five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This helps to pull you out of getting caught up in thoughts that can escalate the anxiety.
Try progressive muscle relaxation: Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body. Start by tensing the muscles in your feet and then slowly working your way up your body. This technique can help you feel more relaxed and calm. It works because when you go into fight or flight your muscles tense preparing for fight, but when you consciously relax them, a message is sent to the brain that you are "okay" and there is no threat.
Challenge your thoughts: Anxiety attacks are often caused or made worse by negative thoughts and beliefs. Try to challenge these thoughts by asking yourself if they're really true or if there's another way to look at the situation. This can help you feel more in control and less overwhelmed by your anxiety.
Bonus: Seek professional help: If you're experiencing anxiety attacks on a regular basis, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A therapist can provide you with coping strategies and techniques for managing your anxiety, as well as help you identify any underlying causes of your anxiety. Although the above techniques can help manage panic in the moment - they don't get to the root of why it occurs in the first place. Therapy can help you to identify underlying patterns and even train your brain to habituate to fears (through a therapy called Interoceptive Exposure Therapy).
In conclusion, anxiety attacks can be a frightening experience, but there are several techniques that can help you manage them. By recognizing the symptoms, practicing deep breathing, using grounding techniques, trying progressive muscle relaxation, challenging your thoughts, and seeking professional help, you can learn to calm your anxiety attacks and feel more in control of your life.
Want to learn more? Schedule a free treatment consultation with one of our anxiety specialists today.