Mental Health

What is anxiety? How to stop anxiety attacks?

Anxiety is a state of uneasiness that can range from mild to extreme, such as concern or fear. Anxiety affects everybody at some stage in their lives. For example you may be anxious and nervous when giving exams.  It’s perfectly natural to feel nervous during such instances

However, some individuals find it difficult to manage their worries. Their anxiety is more persistent, and it can have a significant impact on their daily lives.

Anxiety attacks

Anxiety attacks are extreme bursts of terror, panic, or distress that occur suddenly. They are debilitating, and can have both physical and emotional manifestations. Numerous people who suffer from anxiety disorders have trouble breathing, sweat a lot, shiver, and experience their hearts throb.

During an anxiety attack, some individuals may experience severe pain in their chest and a sense of disconnection from reality, leading them to believe they are suffering from a myocardial infarction(more commonly known as a heart attack). Some people have also mistaken the condition for stroke. Anxiety attacks can be frightening, and they can strike unexpectedly.

1. Acknowledge that you are suffering from an anxiety attack

The first and most important thing you can do to help yourself is to recognize that the cause of your symptoms are your anxiety attacks. You should tell yourself that you’ve been having an anxiety attack rather than a heart attack. Remember that it’s only transient, that it’ll stop, and that you’re fine.

Eliminate the fear of death or imminent doom, all of which are signs of anxiety attacks. This will give you more time to concentrate on other ways to alleviate your symptoms.

2. Keep your eyes shut

Most panic attacks are brought on by overwhelming stimuli. When you’re in an atmosphere with a lot of triggers, your panic attack may be exacerbated. Keep your eyes shut during an anxiety attack to reduce the triggers. This will help you concentrate on your breathing by blocking out any distracting stimuli.

3. Locate a focal point

Another alternative to keeping your eyes shut is to focus only on one object. During an anxiety attack, some persons find it beneficial to direct their attention onto a single item. Pick one item in plain sight and observe everything you can about it, in detail.  To yourself, identify the item’s designs, color, curves, and size. Concentrate all of your attention on this item, and your symptoms can fade.

4. Carry some lavender with you

Lavender is noted for its calming and stress-relieving properties. It will aid in the relaxation of your body. Always carry a small bottle of lavender essential oil in your bag if you suspect you’re susceptible to panic attacks. Rub it on your wrists when you have one. Take a deep breath and inhale the aroma. Chamomile tea and lavender tea are also good options. Both are calming and relaxing.

Note: Benzodiazepines must never be taken with lavender (unless advised by your doctor) as this combination will make you feel extremely drowsy.

5. Continually repeat a phrase

Internally chanting a specific phrase or a ‘mantra’ can be soothing and comforting, and this can provide you with something to hold on to during an anxiety attack. You may chant a prayer to God or a particular slogan like “It will be alright”, “I will be fine” or “This will pass soon” to reassure yourself.

6. Take care of your diet

Diet can also be a contributing factor for anxiety attacks. It is best to cut down on coffee since the caffeine in it has been known to trigger such attacks. Try to cut down on sweetened drinks, processed flour products and other junk foods. Substitute your morning coffee with green tea or organic fruit juice if you can. Take special care to avoid foods that cause allergies as these can furthermore cause anxiety attacks.

7. Use breathing techniques

Although hyperventilation is a manifestation of anxiety disorders that can heighten discomfort, deep breathing can help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety.  If you can regulate your breathing, it can help relieve the hyperventilation and other symptoms of the attack. Concentrate on breathing slowly and deeply through your mouth, allowing the air to slowly fill and afterwards leave your lungs.

  1. a) Breathe in as you count to four
  2. b) Hold for one second
  3. c) Exhale for four counts
  4. Visualize yourself in your happy spot.

What is the most comfortable place you could dream of on the planet?  Visualize yourself there, and start concentrating on the specifics. Perhaps you can smell the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in your grandmother’s oven, or you can see the beautiful sight of the waves crashing against the shore at the beach.

8. Visit a therapist

Although there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health and seeking professional help, the truth is that there is no better alternative than to visit a professional. If you are unable to keep your anxiety under control, your best bet is to get an appointment with a therapist and create a plan that works for you. There is no shame in reaching out, in fact, the earlier you go, the better.

Last Updated on July 28, 2023 by john liam