Are You Anxious?
Do you have anxiety? Honestly, who doesn’t? According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America roughly 18% of our population, or around 40 million adults currently suffer from anxiety.
If you look around, you’ll see we’re living in strange times. We’re in a global pandemic with the uncertainty of the coronavirus; people are being quarantined, the US stock market as well as markets around the world are crashing, the cost of living has never been higher, work has never been more stressful, and to top it off we have the craziness of an election year in the US. The list goes on and on, but you get it. There are a million and one reasons to feel anxious.
But how can you effectively deal with anxiety? Medication? Meditation? Run for the hills and hide? All are potential options, but many times when anxiety strikes you need relief on the spot. You need effective options to reduce anxiety using the power of your mind.
How to Get Relief from Anxiety Attacks
Anxiety or panic attacks can come on anywhere at any time. If you need instant relief, follow these suggestions step by step. But listen, this will only work if you commit to these steps 100%. You can’t go through the motions; you must concentrate and really focus.
- Breathe - When an anxiety attack comes on immediately focus on your breath. Take deep breaths in and out. Put your hands on your sides or even on your stomach so you can feel your chest expand and contract as you take slow, controlled breaths. Fight the urge to take shallow, panicked, rapid breaths.
- Focus on the attack - It sounds counterintuitive, but you need to attack the attack. Once your breathing is under control acknowledge that you are having an anxiety attack and be realistic about it. Know that it will pass, realize you aren’t in immediate danger. Talk to yourself and if you need to, say “this will pass”, “I am not afraid” or any other statement that helps you realize your situation and put it in perspective. Acknowledge that you will be ok. Don’t push the situation out of your mind, accept it and fully process it.
- Look at Your Surroundings - Once you’ve done the first two points, focus on your surroundings. This sounds like a distraction, counter to what we just talked about in point two and it is. However, once you have acknowledged the attack and are processing it, look around you. Notice your surroundings, it keeps your mind in the present and allows you to better realize you aren’t in any immediate danger. Think or better yet, literally talk to yourself and speak out loud what you see around you. Maybe you are outside, say “there is a tree”, “look at that dog”, “what a beautiful day this is,” “look at the blue sky”, etc. This will shift your thinking from acknowledging the attack to focusing your mind on processing something different.
- Feelings - By now you should be calm, and the attack should be passing or already passed, but you need to identify any basic issues (if you can) as to why the attack came on in the first place. Am I overly tired, am I hungry, did something just make me angry? Search your feelings. Sometimes an attack can come on because of a simple feeling you had in the moment.
Practice Does Make Perfect
These are our recommendations: follow those four points, really follow them. Be present, focus on breathing for as long as you need to, to get past the initial shock stage. Then follow the recommended points while continuing to focus intently on each one consecutively and don’t let your mind wander.
If you can master this, you’ll have acquired a great tool to reduce anxiety. It does work but it’s just like anything else, you must practice it. The first time is going to be difficult, but it gets easier and easier, guaranteed.
The calming effect of being mindful of your surroundings and only focusing on one thing at a time is powerful. All too often in today’s world we are bombarded with a dozen things at once with our senses constantly reacting. Every now and then take some time, slow down, focus on less for a minute or maybe even an hour. It’s good for you and you’re worth it.