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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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