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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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