It’s normal to experience anxiety or situations that make us anxious. After the situation is over, however, life should return to normal, and these feelings will go away. However, for those who experience chronic anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), it is a different story.
If you’re reading this post, it likely means that you experience anxiety attacks but don’t know how to calm them. It’s common for many people to feel as if their anxiety attacks won’t ever end, even if we know that eventually, they will. Before we can talk about how to calm an anxiety attack, let’s go over what they are.
What Are Anxiety Attacks?
Many people commonly believe that anxiety and panic attacks are the same thing. While they share many of the same symptoms, there are key differences between them. Panic attacks come on suddenly without warning; their symptoms are often severe.
Anxiety attacks, on the other hand, slowly build up over time. The signs of them can include:
- Racing heart
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling clammy
Experiencing one, unfortunately, can stop you in your tracks and impact the rest of your day until it is over. Fortunately, there are things you can do to calm them down in the moment.
5 Ways To Calm An Anxiety Attack
1. Focus On Your Breathing
When anxiety ramps up, it often impacts your breathing patterns. You can counteract this by completing breathing techniques that calm you down. A great breathing technique is through boxed breathing.
- Slowly inhale for four seconds.
- Hold your breath for four seconds.
- Slowly exhale for four seconds.
Repeating this a few times should help you to feel calmer.
2. Grounding Techniques
Anxiety causes us to be super focused on the future and every what-if scenario our brains tell us we need to worry about. When this happens, you can use grounding techniques to distract your brain from those worries. To practice this, identify:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can hear
- 3 things you can touch
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
By the time you complete this exercise, you should notice that the anxiety attack seems less severe.
3. Counteract Your Negative Thoughts
Anxiety has a way of telling us lies. It convinces us that there is something to worry about, even if there isn’t. It tells us that we are not worthy or that the worst will happen.
As these intrusive thoughts flood your mind, try to counteract them with positive affirmations and approach them with logic and reason. “What evidence do I have that this will happen?”
Replace these thoughts with, “I am capable of handling this.” “This is just something temporary that I am experiencing and won’t last.”
If you are struggling to understand why you are experiencing an anxiety attack, it can be helpful to start writing your thoughts down. What do you have coming up in your life or at work that you are feeling anxious about? Are you stressing out because of finances, doctor appointments, or something else?
Sometimes, we don’t even realize how much what we have going on can impact us daily. This build-up of stress and anxious thoughts can contribute to experiencing anxiety attacks.
Self-care is not just a buzzword that circulates on popular social media platforms. Yes, taking a long hot bath, participating in your favorite hobby, or going out with friends can relieve stress. Self-care also means caring for the most basic things humans need: healthy nutrition, exercise, and getting enough sleep. All of which can help you to feel more balanced overall.
If you are struggling with anxiety attacks, don’t be afraid to seek support. As licensed therapists, we are trained to help people just like you not only find ways to deal with anxiety attacks but to get to the root cause as well. Reach out when you are ready to learn more about anxiety treatment and how it can help you.