If you know what to do before an anxiety attack you can overcome it, feel better and start to enjoy life again.
The symptoms of an anxiety attack cause great discomfort to the person who is suffering from it, since they experience palpitations, intense fear of dying, sweating, breathing difficulties, etc.
However, in the vast majority of cases, the episode does not present any real danger to the person who suffers.
Here are 10 tips you can put into practice if you are experiencing any anxiety crisis.
What to do in an anxiety attack?
- Make sure it’s just an anxiety attack
The first time you experience an anxiety crisis, you should see a doctor to confirm that there are no organic causes that explain the episode – if the crisis appears along with other indicators, such as vomiting or bluish skin tone, may indicate some more serious disorder.
Also, if it is a very serious crisis, they can provide you with the right medication to make the episode go faster.
However, ideally, you should implement the following tips so that you do not depend solely on medication, but you can increase control over your own body and gradually reduce its symptoms.
- Do not run away from the situation
This is the most common mistake people make with anxiety attacks.
If you leave the place where these episodes occur – for example, at a party with unknown people – you will consider these places as dangerous, by which you will increasingly avoid coming to them.
The anxiety disorder is achieved primarily through direct exposure to stimuli or feared situations, so stay in the place where anxiety attacks , or return to them after the crisis will help to reduce their frequency appear and intensity.
So what you have to do is fight anxiety attacks, which usually do not last more than 10-20 minutes – the episode being more intense in the first few minutes – retreating to a place that is not crowded and waiting for your breath, heart rate and general condition are normalized.
Once you have sent the episode, return to the place where the crisis occurred – as we have already said, if you avoid exposing yourself to the situation, you will become increasingly afraid.
- Lose the fear of anxiety
If you have already experienced an anxiety attack, you will know that the fear that is suffering at that moment is of a very high intensity, especially because the symptoms – which are very alarming – appear unexpectedly and suddenly.
However, after experiencing an anxiety attack or more than one, you are surely aware that you do not get to produce those situations you fear.
Therefore, when you experience one of these attacks again, you must be aware that it is only anxiety, that it is not dangerous and that you cannot let yourself be carried away by the fear of seeing the disproportionate reaction that your body shows.
By controlling your fear of anxiety, you will be able to control the reaction that your body shows.
- Change your irrational thoughts by self-instruction of courage
The thoughts that occur when you experience an anxiety attack negatively affect the maintenance of your fears – and may increase the chances that new episodes of anxiety attacks occur.
To fight the thoughts and to have you have more control in these situations, we propose that you carry out these two fundamental modifications:
- Change your irrational thoughts. Even if it is difficult for you, you should strive not to let yourself be carried away by the catastrophic thoughts that invade you. Instead, think that you are somewhere else, like on the beach or on the mountain, trying to imagine as many details as possible – like the sound of the ocean waves
- , the breeze on your face, etc. -.
- Use self-instruction of courage. Another good technique that you can use is to repeat yourself that you can combat this state of anxiety, with phrases such as “I have overcome other times” or “it is only anxiety, there is no real danger.” On the first occasions that you use the self-instructions, you can choose to verbalize them aloud – whenever possible – and if you do it in front of a mirror, its effect may be greater. You can also choose to write them on paper and always take them with you, to use them if necessary.
- Concentrate on your breathing
At all times, during the anxiety attack, it is very important that you focus on the rhythm of your breathing.
As you can see, it is a very agitated breathing that damages other systems in your body, such as cardiovascular.
By performing a diaphragmatic breath, you will get the symptoms of the anxiety attack fading.
This type of breathing is done by sending the air to the abdominal area (instead of the lungs), and the steps to carry it out are:
- Take deep breaths, lasting at least 5 seconds.
- Try to hold the inspired air, without ejecting it, about 3 seconds.
- The air expands very slowly.
To ensure that you perform your diaphragmatic breathing properly, place your hand on your abdomen and see that it rises as you inhale.
Repeat this sequence for a few minutes or the time it takes for the symptoms of anxiety to decrease.
If this breathing technique does not work for you, or your breathing is too hectic, you can use a plastic bag.
Approach the plastic bag – holding it in half – and make it cover your mouth and nose, and breathe the air it contains.
This is an effective way to combat hyperventilation that usually occurs in anxiety attacks, since you will be breathing CO2.
It is important that you avoid completely covering your face with the bag, and do not use this mechanism for a long time – a few seconds will be enough to achieve the desired effect.
- Uses progressive muscle relaxation
This technique basically involves tightening and relaxing different muscle groups.
In the face of an anxiety attack, the muscular tension that is experienced is usually very high, so you can get many benefits using this technique.
Although in a time of so much fear and discomfort, you may find it difficult to put this technique into practice, you should strive to carry it out.
First, try to identify those muscles that are tenser – they can be hands, arms, face, etc. -.
Once you have identified them, try to tighten them even further for about 5 seconds. Then relax them and concentrate on the well-being that causes those muscles to become loose.
Repeat the procedure as many times as necessary until you notice that your muscle tension has decreased.
Putting this technique into practice, you can check how your fear is also diminishing, because by concentrating on some distracting activity, you pay less attention to your fears.
- Avoid having many people help you
If you have already had an anxiety attack, you will have noticed that the people around you are worried and try to help you by giving you some advice and telling you what to do.
When you are only helped by one or a few people, you can become productive, as they help you to maintain control and to perform some basic guidelines.
However, if you do not want to develop a dependency on others – realizing that you would not be able to overcome the crisis of anxiety for yourself – try to control the situation with mechanisms that are more suited to the characteristics of your anxiety crisis, so that you are the person to whom to attribute the success.
What you can do is to inform your family and friends in advance so that they know that it is a situation that does not entail any real danger, and that they do not have to be alarmed if they come to witness this episode.
- Do not perform rituals during anxiety attacks
This is a fundamental aspect that you should avoid at all costs when you are experiencing an anxiety attack.
Rituals and superstitions can quickly be implemented in your repertoire of beliefs and behaviors, so that you perform certain superstitious acts – in a real or imagined way – to combat anxiety attacks.
It is curious that, although the anxiety crisis ends after several minutes, regardless of what you are doing, you can associate the end of the episode with a specific ritual, such as praying, touching a particular object, etc.
If you acquire these erroneous beliefs, you will experience added difficulties when you cannot perform such ritual – for example, you will feel greater anxiety when you cannot touch the object that makes you feel “safe.”
In addition, just as when a person helps you, you will not be able to attribute to yourself the success of having overcome the crisis satisfactorily, but you will continue to consider that anxiety attacks are dangerous and you cannot fight them for yourself.
- Give yourself credit for overcoming the anxiety crisis
Once the episode is over, you should be aware of everything you have done to combat anxiety, attributing the merit of having overcome it.
You should also note that nothing has happened that you feared, which will make you see that it is harmless – and that you are safe despite the reaction of your body.
Little by little, you can go against anxiety attacks with greater self-confidence and confidence in yourself.
You can also check that, if you do these exercises, the duration and intensity of the episodes will be progressively reduced.
- Go to a mental health specialist if the anxiety disorder is maintained or aggravated
Although anxiety attacks usually do not carry any real danger, it is necessary that you go to a specialist if the episodes are frequent, so that you can indicate some specific guidelines or methods of action that help you fight anxiety.
If you are instructed to take specific medication, try combining it with a psychological therapy, so that you not only mask the symptoms of anxiety but can solve your internal problems and increase your quality of life.
These are the methods that we propose you to know to act before an anxiety attack.
What is anxiety?
In general, we can define anxiety as the combination of different mental and physical manifestations that cannot be attributed to real, but imaginary, dangers, occurring in the form of crisis or as a persistent and diffuse state.
Anxiety stands out for its similarity to fear, since both mechanisms provoke similar manifestations – thoughts of danger, apprehension, similar physiological and motor responses. In addition, both are adaptive mechanisms, which help our survival causing us to move away from dangerous stimuli.
The main difference is that fear occurs before present stimuli, while anxiety is related to the anticipation of future stimuli, which are indefinable and unpredictable.
In addition, when anxiety exceeds normal in terms of intensity, duration or frequency, it can lead to pathological manifestations in the person, both at the functional and emotional levels.
Some examples of situations that can cause high anxiety – sometimes breaking up in anxiety attacks – are to go to a job interview, speak in public, go to parties where there are many unknown people, etc.