Health and Fitness: Mental Health Article Category
During the midst of an anxiety attack, it can feel like things are going extremely fast and out of control in the blink of an eye. This is why the definition involves a sudden surge of intense physiological sensations and symptoms. If you're like most people who experience this, things feel helpless and hopeless rather frequently. I'm reminded of all the individuals I've helped that have said, "Kelly, it (anxiety attack) happened so quickly. I didn't know what to do."
What I want to teach you are three effective strategies that can give you relief when having an anxiety attack. It's worth mentioning that these strategies are meant for temporary relief and should not replace the available methods used to get at the root cause of your anxiety attacks.
The first strategy is to remember the medical truths, or realities, behind anxiety attacks. Most all of the physiological symptoms and sensations can be rationally explained by the human fight or flight response. This is the natural reaction your body goes through when a threat or danger is perceived. Fight or flight is healthy when the perceived threat is rational. However, generally there is no real threat precipitating an anxiety attack. For instance, your heart beats fast merely to generate more blood flow to major muscle groups. Also, your muscles tense in order to prepare for fight or flight.
A second strategy involves distraction. Distraction refers to mindfully refocusing your attention on something else rather than the uncomfortable sensations. To become skilled at this may take practice. Begin by becoming mindful of daily experiences such as sights, smells, tastes, and sensations. Notice what it feels like to walk down the street. Then switch your attention to the sights around you. Afterwards, take in the surrounding smells. Finally, be mindful of the way the wind or air feels on your skin. Practice this several times a day and you will find it an effective strategy to relieve an anxiety attack.
The third strategy is deep breathing. If you're like most individuals who suffer from anxiety attacks, you breathe mainly from your chest as opposed to the diaphragm (a stomach muscle). Breathing through the chest only increases anxiety, while inhaling and expanding the diaphragm decrease calm down. The diaphragm, when expanded and released, sends a message to your brain to relax. To do this, simply inhale and exhale for three seconds each. Say to yourself, "Relax", on the exhale. The inhale should expand your stomach while the exhale deflates it. Practice this for 3-5 minutes several times per day. It's worth mentioning again that this strategy can be effective for temporary relief but should not replace identifying root causes of your anxiety attacks (e.g. irrational fears, unhealthy thinking).
I wish you success in implementing these three strategies. Don't forget to check out my eBook, Free of Panic: 30 Strategies to Cure Panic Attacks.