It’s time we start taking anxiety seriously. Have you ever felt like you’re unable to breathe, covered in sweat, have a rapid heartbeat, blurred vision, or trembling hands? These are all signs of a panic attack, and they’re more common than you think. We have a habit of brushing these things under the rug, but panic attacks can be terrifying and are a constant reality for so many of us. Learning to control them is a process. And while some people have access to therapy, for those of us who don’t, here are 8 ways to manage your anxiety the next time it feels like it’s too much.
1. Breathe Slowly And Deeply
Anxiety causes you to breathe very quickly. As you start feeling the panic setting in, calm your body and mind by taking slow and deep breaths. It helps to envision a balloon filling up to the count of 8 seconds, holding in the breath for five seconds, and exhaling to the count of 8 seconds again. Keep doing this until the panic subsides.
2. If Not Physically, Visualise Doing Yoga
Yoga is medically proven to reduce stress and anxiety. If you find it hard to practice yoga immediately during a panic attack, just visualise it. Even something as simple as sun salutations can help calm your mind.
3. Listen, Sing Or Hum A Soothing Song
There’s no denying that music is a great healer. Whether it’s your favourite song or one which has a soothing effect, just put on your earphones and listen to it on loop. You’ll feel transported from your current reality.
4. Watch Oddly Satisfying Videos
We’re not sure how or why, but these videos are crazy soothing. You can find an abundance of oddly satisfying videos on YouTube, or you can even search for them on Snapchat or Instagram. Watch a compilation of them until you’re completely relaxed. ASMR videos work in a very similar way, and you can easily find them online.
5. Play With A Toy That Distracts Your Mind
As soon as you start feeling the symptoms of a panic attack, take out your fidget spinner, a coin with ridged edges, a pen which clicks, or even wear a ring you can slip on and off. If you’re at home, get a colouring book and take out time to focus on it whenever you’re free. This will distract your mind from the thoughts associated with a panic attack.
6. Name Five Things You Can See, Touch, Hear, Smell And Eat
Naming and listing tangible, real things is the best exercise. It keeps your mind busy and roots you to your surroundings, reminding yourself that whatever irrational thoughts or fears have triggered your anxiety aren’t actually around you. This helps to establish a safe space wherever you are. Keep doing this until you forget about what was stressing your mind.
7. Say The Alphabet Backwards
Another great way to trick your mind is this silly yet effective exercise. This can be really challenging as your mind is used to saying it in the correct order, and so it can divert your mind from the source of your panic. You can also count backwards from a hundred in reductions of three.
8. Think Positive
The most important of them all. We know sometimes this can feel like redundant advice, or the most impossible thing to manage. Push away all the negative thoughts you have by thinking about the times when you’ve successfully dealt with a panic attack in the past. Speak kindly to yourself in your head, and lure yourself out of whatever anxiety you’ve fallen into.