When you live with an anxiety disorder, any moment can become one that creates a slow-rising panic within you. Life is normal one second and the next, you feel your chest tighten and your heart begin to race. You may begin to hyperfocus on future events and find yourself getting lost in “what-ifs.”
To make matters worse, you may then begin to berate yourself for allowing the panic to get the best of you and begin to believe that all of those what-ifs are indisputable facts. There are many powerful tools and techniques you can use to manage your anxiety effectively.
The minute you feel a panic attack coming on, the first thing to do is stop and gain control of your breath. Deep, slow breathing sends a signal to our brains that everything is safe in our environment. Controlled breathing is one of the most powerful ways to activate your body’s relaxation response. It will take your mind and body out of “fight or flight” mode and put it instantly into a calm and relaxed state.
Accept and Allow
Your brain may be telling you that you are having a heart attack. Your instinct will be to push this awful feeling away. I don’t want to feel this, get it out! Rather, it’s important to do the opposite and allow the feeling the best you can. You are not in physical danger. Remind yourself that anxiety is “just a feeling” and like all feelings, it can go as quickly as it came. Trying to pretend anxiety is not happening only makes those bad feelings grow.
Challenge Your Thoughts
Anxious feelings are connected to thoughts, even if you are not aware of them. And your anxious feelings may lead you to make decisions that only make your anxiety bigger. Before you take any of these thoughts as reality and truth, ask yourself, “Is that true?”. For instance, if your mind throws things out like, “No one here likes me. I am for sure going to screw this up. I probably left the stove on. And I’ll no doubt get stuck in bad traffic on the way home and maybe even get a flat so I will then be stranded, and on and on and on…” Are you not liked by everyone around you? Most likely not. Are you really going to screw up? Maybe, but if you did, what is the worst that can happen and could you handle that?
If you would like additional support to manage your anxiety so it is not managing you, I’m here to help.