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Chances are, you’ll either experience an anxiety attack or a full-blown panic attack at some point in life. Your body gets tense, your mind feels cloudy, and it can manifest in many uncomfortable physical symptoms. When extreme, symptoms of a panic attack can even make you feel like you’re having a heart attack, including chest pain and shortness of breath.

Whether from fear of public speaking, riding in an airplane, heights, or other random thoughts of situations that haven’t even occurred yet, anxiety is stress-induced, wreaks havoc on your mind and body, and can negatively impact your daily life.

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

 

According to the Cleveland Clinic article “Panic Attacks & Panic Disorder,” panic attacks are very common and affect nearly 11% of people in the United States every year.  Not too surprising to me, panic disorder tends to be more prevalent in females than males.

I am no stranger to anxiety attacks and panic attacks. As someone with a history of anxiety, I have battled through it during times of significant loss and major life changes. I’ve also experienced postpartum anxiety and depression (side note: that was an incredibly awful experience beyond words, and more attention needs to be given to moms during that first year after birth, but that topic is a whole ‘nother blog post in itself).

Self-Help Anxiety Tools

Sometimes, it’s a specific trigger that leads to unexpected panic attacks. Other times, there may be no apparent reason for the intense feelings of anxiety, which makes staying in tune with your mental well-being and having self-help strategies in place even more important.

Over the years, I have learned many ways to help crush my anxiety and reduce symptoms of anxiety attacks with methods that help lessen their severity or at least the time that they last.

In this post, I will share 7 tools that I have personally found helpful to avoid an anxiety attack (or cope with it better when it happens) and reclaim calm faster!

Tool 1: Deep Breathing

When nervous or afraid, breathing typically becomes very shallow, heart rate increases, and your chest may even ache. Anxious thoughts can manifest into anxiety symptoms in many different ways that mimic medical conditions.

Therefore, I have found that being intentional about taking deep breaths…in through your nose, holding a few seconds, and releasing slowly out from your mouth until you can’t exhale anymore, has been the best thing to help calm my nervous system. It also gives you something else to focus on, which is helpful when experiencing anxiety.

Deep breathing has a calming effect and is my #1 go-to when I feel a heightened sense of nervousness on the way. Harvard Health has an excellent article called “Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response,” which explains the importance of deep breathing and how to do this for the greatest effectiveness and provides other techniques for reducing stress responses.

Deep breaths women's t-shirt

DEEEEEP breaths purple t-shirt by Calmfirmations

Tool 2: Continuous Repetition of Short Phrases

When you feel extreme anxiety or a panic attack, the one thing you want to do tends to be the absolute hardest thing to accomplish, and that’s to CALM DOWN!  In fact, the main reason I created  CALMFIRMATIONS was to help others in need of stress management to focus on the word CALM when reciting affirmations or during deep meditation. I find mindfulness meditation very helpful for regulating my nervous system.

My favorite short-phrase Calmfirmations when feeling anxious are:

  • I calmly affirm…I am OKAY
  • I calmly affirm…I CAN DO THIS
  • I calmly affirm…I am SAFE
  • I calmly affirm….This feeling is TEMPORARY

While in a relaxed state of mind, come up with 2-5 short, easy-to-remember phrases that you can say to yourself over and over again. When you start to feel anxious, these coping statements can be your go-to list of meditative phrases, and it’s even better when you recite them while practicing deep breathing techniques.

Tool 3: Distract Yourself by Doing a Random Act

Depending on where I am when one starts, I will do jumping jacks, start doing an old-school dance in an overly animated way, turn on very loud music and sing to the top of my lungs, or just start clapping my hands. It may sound silly, but it releases muscle tension and really does work for me!

I find it helpful for releasing pent-up energy; it can make me laugh and recenter me…bringing me out of my clouded thoughts and into the present moment.

Tool 4: CRY

Yes, I said CRY… C-R-Y!

It’s the first noise we make upon entering this world, and crying is GOOD for the soul.  It’s not a sign of weakness.  It’s a release.  If you need to let out an ugly cry for a few minutes, do it!  Allow yourself time to feel your feelings, and then keep pressing on.

When you keep big emotions bottled up, they will eventually explode at some point…whether in the form of anger, anxiety, exhaustion, or illness.  Listen to your body, which tries its best to protect us.

Green Calmfirmations reminder stating

Tool 5: Therapy

Talking to a licensed therapist, an unrelated party trained in behavioral health matters, is helpful. I believe everyone could benefit from therapy. We will go to a doctor for our physical health. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going to a licensed professional for our mental health needs.

When going through the grocery checkout or passing by a neighbor, they ask, “How are you”? Most times, we naturally say, “Okay,” “Doing well,” “Alright, how about yourself?” But it is amazing what pours out when you honestly answer the simple yet thought-provoking question, “How are you”?

Talk therapy can help you communicate what you’re currently feeling and help you connect the dots on your past, present, and thoughts about the future.

Tool 6: Meditation

This tool helps most as maintenance before anxiety escalates. Still, it can also be helpful during an anxiety attack when combined with a few other tools above. Finding a calming, soothing meditation audio or video to listen to and repeat for several minutes while deep breathing, possibly crying, and pressing your hands together tightly, can help repel some anxious energy before it gets too severe.

There are many options for guided meditation.  We have guided Calmfirmations on our YouTube channel, and there are also numerous apps, websites, and local resources to help.  Find what resonates and brings comfort to you.

Tool 7: Journaling

It can be written or typed, but releasing your thoughts, whether onto paper or a screen, helps free those thoughts from your mind.  I love journals with prompts.  They make it easy by giving you a specific question to think about and then write out whatever comes to mind in its raw, unfiltered form.

Our Calmfirmations guided activity workbooks make it even easier by providing traceable calming affirmations that take all the thought out of affirming yourself until you’re ready to release your thoughts on paper.

Photo of three Calmfirmations Guided Activity Workbooks - available on Amazon

Calmfirmations Guided Activity Workbooks

Conclusion

In summary, struggling through an anxiety attack or panic attack symptoms is not fun. As a matter of fact, it can actually feel quite scary and overwhelming. Finding effective ways to release anxious energy can help minimize the severity of symptoms, as can regular exercise, getting enough sleep, having a healthy diet, and minimizing stressful situations.

Mental health conditions have several treatment options, so it is important to speak with your healthcare provider for medical help if you continue to experience intense anxiety that reduces your quality of life.

I hope my top 7 tools to help crush anxiety attack symptoms are helpful for you. Pick at least 2-3 and tweak them to your needs. It’s hard getting through the mental and physical stress and turmoil that anxiety brings. Practicing tools for stress management regularly is the best way to feel prepared to conquer anxiety and restore calm when feelings of panic arise!

Please know that you are not alone in this.  When you’re in need of help, many resources are available, such as NAMI, and there is much more open conversation about mental health and wellness online these days, so information is easier to find. Do your best with calming tools and seek professional help when needed.

Which of the 7 tools resonated with you most?  Do you have a different go-to tool of your own?

Please leave a comment below and let us know!

Calmfirmations Promotes Positivity

CALMFIRMATIONS has several audio, video, and workbooks that can help you say or write calming affirmations every day, or you can listen to us on YouTube and repeat calming affirmations whenever needed. It’s like a hug for your soul!  We also have a growing list of Calmfirmations t-shirts with several positive expressions.

Read it. Write it. Speak it. Wear it. BELIEVE IT!

As always…Calmly Affirm Yourself with LOVE! 💜💚

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#panicattacks #anxietyattacks #anxiety #mentalhealth #postpartumanxiety #calmfirmations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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