Anxiety disorders and panic attacks are at an all-time high in the U.S. in the modern age in which we live. Some people call it an epidemic; others think it will pass when people start adjusting and getting used to technology, which could be one of the main culprits. Either way, more and more people are suffering from anxiety at an alarmingly increasing rate, and many people have no idea how to manage it.
Some people turn to prescription medications, but these aren’t a realistic option for the long term. Others try to control their thoughts through breathing exercises and things like yoga, but anxiety sufferers often have a tough time managing their symptoms. At the same time, many people who suffer from anxiety often simply lack the right tools to manage their situations. Some of those among us don’t even know they’re suffering from anxiety and think that blurred vision and a tight chest are just a part of normal everyday life, but nothing could be further from the truth. We’re taking a look at five simple tips for dealing with anxiety and staving off those dreaded panic attacks.
#1 Focused Breathing
Various breathing techniques exist that can help to circumvent a panic attack before it strikes totally. Some people inhale deeply for four seconds, hold it for four, and then exhale for four. Others take the deepest breaths possible and count up to ten in sets, but whatever method you choose, focusing on breathing can make all the difference to anxiety. Breathing techniques, when employed in conjunction with mindfulness or guided meditation, can be one of the most effective ways to stave of anxiety. It’s well worth spending some time online researching different breathing techniques for anxiety and panic attacks.
#2 Quiet Time
For many who suffer from anxiety, life can be a slippery slope. Some people get so used to their anxiety; they don’t even realize they have it. They will often spend the majority of their waking hours obsessing or ruminating about one issue or another, and that can severely affect a person’s day.
That’s why one great tip for anxiety sufferers is to actually dedicate time to worrying instead of letting it overtake their whole life. It may sound counter-intuitive at first, but many people curtail the distracting thoughts during the day and dedicate half an hour of “worry time” to themselves when they get home from work.
#3 Thought Control
While it’s near on impossible to control the thoughts that enter our heads, and the emotions they lead to, controlling thought patterns is a powerful tool to have in one’s arsenal for beating anxiety. It’s not that it’s easy or even advisable to try to stop thoughts from entering the head.
It’s more about attempting to control those thoughts and to rationalize them as they unfold. Instead of reacting to the thoughts or getting overly emotional, try to observe them and see what the underlying message of what they’re attempting to convey to you. Don’t allow the thoughts to ping around in your head like a pinball, instead try and let the thoughts flow in a mindful and wise kind of way.
#4 Write it Down
It’s a well-established fact in the world of psychotherapy that writing one’s thoughts down daily can be very therapeutic, useful and can stop anxiety, or at least reduce it. When literally thousands of intrusive thoughts enter the brain and circulate, the thing one is thinking about can become obscured and vague.
Journaling, which is essentially writing down thoughts in a notepad or book in an organized manner (as some people call it), is the first port of call. When you put pen to paper and get your thoughts down in black and white, it relieves the mind and leaves it emptier. It’s also good practice and very therapeutic to read over what you’ve written from time to time, to get a good overview and to start understanding your thought patterns better.
#5 Managing Triggers
One of the worst parts of life for anxiety and panic sufferers is those triggers that seem to spark off the anxiety in the first place. Triggers like a stressful job or extended time at a desk trying to meet unrealistic deadlines are just two, but there are also many other, more subtle triggers than can lead a person down a treacherous path.
For some people, public speaking or social gatherings are like ‘Hell on Earth’, while others are triggered by driving, honking, and traffic jams. The first stage is identifying your personal triggers and getting as familiar with them as possible. When one has an idea of what might set them off. The next step is coming up with a robust plan for how to handle those triggers when they arise and learning how to deal with them.