Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time. However, for some of us the anxiety can become so overwhelming and unbearable that it starts dictating our lives. Below are 5 tips you can try out to address panic attacks.
Tip#1: Notice patterns
The foundation to tackling the feeling of anxiety is to notice when and how the panic attacks occur. Is there a pattern as to when you get anxious? Do you get anxious in a specific place or situation or around specific people? What thoughts accompany the feeling of anxiety, e.g. you might find yourself thinking you cannot manage situation X? What does it do to your body; do you start sweating, feel nauseous or out of breath? And what do you end up doing to manage the anxiety, e.g. do you walk away from the situation? Mapping out answers to these questions gives you an overview of what it is you are trying to address.
Tip#2: Accept your anxiety, but commit to your values
Instinctively, what people want to do is to control or get rid of the feeling of anxiety. Accepting that you experience anxiety and that that is ok can be difficult, but can bring about a huge sense of relief. It ultimately allows you to refocus on what you really value in life and what you want to strive towards, despite the anxiety.
Tip#3: Make use of breathing techniques
To be able to manage and stick with the feeling of anxiety in the moment, breathing techniques are often recommended. When you feel anxious, your heart might start racing and your breath might become short and shallow. Thereby your body feeds further into the anxiety. However, if you take slow deep breaths in and out (at least 5s to inhale and 5s to exhale) and consciously engage your diaphragm while breathing, your body cannot fully engage with the anxiety response, making the feeling easier to manage.
Tip#4: Confront your anxiety
The only way you can find out whether you can actually manage your anxiety in an anxiety-provoking situation is to enter into exactly the situation you find overwhelming. You might initially find the anxiety unbearable, but the longer you spend in the situation the more you will realise that you can manage the anxiety and that the worries and thoughts you had about the situation are just that – thoughts – and not reality.
Tip#5: Do not go on this journey alone
Writing about and reading the above tips is simple, but putting them into practice can be difficult. Finding someone you trust to support you on this journey and who cheers you on from the sidelines can make all the difference.