On its own, anxiety is simply a part of being human. It can also be a positive thing to at least some extent. Feelings like anxiety, fear, or worry can help us stay out of trouble and encourage us to avoid situations that might be dangerous. However, like many of the body’s natural responses, anxiety can become excessive and make it hard to live life to the fullest.
This is especially the case if your anxiety tends to explode into full-blown panic attacks. However, as crippling as chronic anxiety and panic attacks can feel at times, it’s very possible to overcome them and improve your quality of life. Here are some suggestions to get you started in the right direction.
Slow down and breathe
Breathing changes are among the scariest things that can occur during a panic attack. When people who suffer from anxiety disorders experience stress, they frequently stop paying attention to their breathing. That means they don’t notice it becoming increasingly fast, shallow, or erratic. This type of breathing sends a signal to the brain that something isn’t right and triggers a further panic response.
Often, focusing on breathing can be enough to stop a panic attack in its tracks, so it’s important to remember to do so. When you feel anxious or stressed, deliberately take long, deep, slow breaths. Focus on making sure the breaths come from your diaphragm and completely fill up your lungs. You’ll almost certainly notice a difference in how you feel.
Incorporate mindfulness into your life
Have you ever had a moment during an anxiety episode where you actively realized a thought that crossed your mind didn’t quite make sense? When people are panicked, it’s very easy for thoughts to become distorted and the resulting negative feelings to be blown way out of proportion. However, it’s possible to learn to challenge those thoughts through mindfulness.
Start actively paying attention to the things that cross your mind when you’re feeling anxious or frightened, especially if you can’t identify the source of the anxiety. Try examining them further by writing them down in a journal or otherwise trying to actively communicate them. Enhance your daily routine with activities that help increase mindfulness, as well. Guided meditation, yoga, and daily journal-keeping are all excellent examples.
Ask for support if you need it
If generalized anxiety or panic attacks have left you feeling less than great about yourself, you’re not alone. Many people with anxiety feel ashamed, guilty, or inadequate because of how it impacts their lives. It can be tempting to try to put up a false front to hide what’s going on, but it’s worth facing the situation head-on instead. Often, this means asking for help.
You don’t have to deal with anxiety or panic disorders by yourself. Confide in trusted friends or loved ones when it makes sense to do so, and ask for their support in helping you get a handle on your anxiety. Ask your doctor to recommend a therapist or suggest medical solutions that might help you get things under control. As lonely as anxiety can make you feel, you’re not alone in this. Reach out if you need to, and trust that help is out there.
Try adding an ongoing program to your routine
Naturally, it takes time, patience, and commitment to overcome anxiety and truly make panic attacks a thing of the past. It’s certainly not something that happens overnight, but rather a little bit at a time. It’s about making small lifestyle changes one step at a time and incorporating daily habits into your routine that keep stress levels low.
Consider trying an app or smartphone-friendly program like UnwindingAnxiety.com. Such programs are designed to take the guesswork out of managing your anxiety by coaching you through exercises and daily habit-building activities that help you get where you want to be. They also offer easy, convenient, ongoing access to helpful experts and supportive communities of people who understand what you’re going through.
Gaining control over your anxiety is the first step toward living the peaceful, fulfilling life you know you deserve. It’s also a journey that begins with just one step – deciding to get started. Take that step today!