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Stop an Anxiety Attack in 5 Simple Steps

Stop an Anxiety Attack in 5 Simple Steps

Have you ever wished you could retrain your mind? Anxiety attacks are as much a mental phenomenon as they are physical. Fortunately, there are several practical ways to stop an anxiety attack before it takes over. Once learned, these basic methods can be utilized to quell anything from minor stress to extreme panic.

1. Breathe Correctly

The single most important thing to know if you suffer from panic attacks or general stress is proper breathing. When we panic, our bodies naturally begin to take in air incorrectly. The more inefficiently you breathe, the worse you panic, and a vicious cycle begins where you seem to lose control.

As a rule, if only your chest and shoulders are rising, you are breathing in a way that worsens stress. Make sure that when you breathe, your abdomen is expanding. When anxious, this may feel unnatural, or even like you are making things worse. Keep doing it anyway, and after several minutes your nervous system will start to shift out of sympathetic mode.

The other important thing to remember is that your exhales should be longer and slower than your inhales. Inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Again, this might feel difficult to manage when anxious, but be persistent. Some doctors recommend making the “shhh” sound when exhaling, as it slows your breath down naturally.

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2. Control Your Thoughts

Have you ever made a phone call only to be put on hold? There’s the waiting, the boring elevator music, and no one to talk to. The experience has quite a sedative effect. This is the atmosphere you should cultivate in your mind. You must put it on hold.

Meditation techniques and anxiety reduction techniques are one in the same. If your anxiety comes from constant ruminating or worrying, the most important thing for you to do is STOP. Stop thinking. Stop internally talking to yourself.

You may experience many intrusive thoughts, and you may feel like you are too panicked to have any control. Again, consistency is key. Meditation gurus tell us that we must keep bringing our mind back to blankness each time it wanders. It works the same way for anxiety attacks.

So pretend you are the phone operator and your mind is the unruly customer, refusing to be put on hold. Do what all of our insurance companies would do, and leave it on hold.

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3. Relax Your Body

Tension is linked to stress and anxiety. Wherever you are, try to find the most comfortable and relaxing position available. This may be lying down, sitting in a chair, or standing up. Whatever feels comfortable, do it. You should obviously avoid anything strenuous that increases your heart rate, like climbing stairs.

Move your shoulders around to loosen them. Try to go through your body from head to toe, and focus on relaxing each muscle group individually. If you are wearing anything restricting, especially tight belts, remove them. Stretching is also helpful as it contributes to a loose, relaxed feeling that will stifle anxiety.

4. Consider Your Environment

For some of us, environmental triggers are the main cause of panic. Unfortunately we can’t always control our environment. Popular fears like crowds, heights, and public speaking are sometimes unavoidable.

People who suffer from anxiety often have sensitive nervous systems, meaning they are greatly impacted by their environment. When in doubt, you should seek out fewer people, less noise, and less stimulation.

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Try to mold your environment into a place where relaxation is possible. This is different for everyone, so you need to consider what makes you feel safe and comfortable. If candles relax you, light them. If showers relax you, get naked and hop in. If you are stuck at work, asking for a 15 minute break and a change of scenery might be best. Do not get naked at work.

5. Ask for Help

While some people prefer solitude, you may feel better in the presence of others. Any kind of internal thinking could worsen panic. So try asking a trusted friend or family member to talk to you. This will bring you out of your head- the worst place to be during an anxiety attack.

When someone talks, keep forcing yourself to think about what they are saying. Even if it seems impossible, keep bringing your attention back to whatever they are talking about and join in as best you can. When your mind is focused on something external, you become preoccupied and the panic may begin to subside.

Sometimes focusing on the panic and having others try to calm you down only keeps your attention on it. This might worsen your fixation or feeling that something is “wrong.” Instead, try to create an atmosphere of normalcy, and ask your friends or family to do the same while they help occupy you.

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Conclusion: You Got This

Ultimately, you control everything. Your body panics because you indicated that something was wrong. As soon as you convince your body that nothing is truly wrong, it will revert back to normal. The same goes for your mind. It faithfully does what you tell it to do.

An anxiety attack is a battle of wills- with yourself. If you don’t give in to fear and relentlessly do the 5 things above, you will win the battle every time.

Featured photo credit: Alyssa L Miller, Fear and Suspicion via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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