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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 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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