Not long ago I posted the Methods of De-Stressing post (which is linked right there by the way if you missed it) which gave you some ideas on how I have learnt to de-stress myself or just make myself chill out in periods of my life when I am really under stress- whether that be because of external influences or because I am putting the stress on myself. While I was thinking about that I also came up with the idea of separate post talking more about dealing with an anxiety attack, once it has already started, because sometimes you just get to that point where the anxiety hits you all at once and you don't know what to do or how to stop it. In the however many years that I have been dealing with anxiety I have tried and tested some ways to manage the anxiety attacks.
I am going to be completely real, once the attack has taken hold, it is bloody hard to bring yourself out of it. Its hard to think clearly and rationally once your in that mind set, so while I can tell you some ways to control it, it is difficult to actually preform them and I know that. If you remember some of these techniques then maybe you might be able to control your next anxiety attack instead of letting it control you, but it will be hard.
Anxiety attacks often come in the style of waves- they start out small, like just simple lapping on your legs while you stand on the beach. And sometimes they will progress to whole body consuming waves that drag you out to sea and have you struggling to keep your head above the water. With a little bit of knowledge about anxiety management you might be able to stop the progression of the waves that will allow you to stay grounded on the beach.
Below are some techniques that you (hopefully) can try in an attempt to stop an anxiety attack before it drags you under.
- Breath. This is most definitely the most cliche technique that I could include, and I know it-because when your having an attack you know that you need to breath but it doesn't make it any easier to do so. You can't just sit there thinking "breath Elyssa breath" because that really does nothing, does it? The best way that I found is to lay down (if possible, sometimes you just can't do it) and you watch your chest rise and fall. Its sounds odd, I know but it can be calming to be consciously aware of the rising and falling of your chest.
- Exercise. If you are in the beginning stages of an anxiety attack you con sometimes convince yourself to get up and do some light exercise. I find this really helps when I can recognise an attack creeping up on me and have the motivation to get up and release a bit of tension with some sweat. Because you obviously don't want to over do it I suggest maybe a some stretching or foam rolling to focus your thoughts on something else other than the anxiety.
- Essential Oils. I'll be the first to admit that I was very skeptical of essential oils when the whole hype began, its very hard to wrap your mind around a little drop of oil doing anything to the body and the mind set. However, when I was going through a shitty phase I thought 'you know what it can't do anything bad so lets just give it a go.' I can't remember the brand name because I have actually lost my essential oils (this has just reminded me to do another order) but I used one that I just simply placed a dab on my sleeve when I felt the anxiousness rising and i'm not sure if it is a placebo effect or what but it really seemed to have calming properties. When I my order and they come in the mail I will do a whole post on them!
- Use your senses. I actually found this tip on Instagram I believe and actually remembered it during my next anxiety attack because I had written it in the notes of my phone. So basically you do the following, and its stuff you do have to think about so you have something else to focus on, sort of like what you do when you have the hiccups and you try and remember everything you've had for breakfast in the last week.
- count our five things that you can see;
- count out four things that you can touch;
- count out three things that you can hear;
- count out two things you can smell;
- count out one thing you can taste.
- Get some air. Cold air on your face or some fresh air in the room will really help you to feel like you can breath a bit better. I find that if I am in the car and feel a bit anxious (driving in traffic!!!) turning up the air con really helps me to just chill out a bit (pun was definitely intended).
- Colouring in. You can do this the old fashioned way and actually have some colouring in books laying around like I do, or you can download an app on your phone. These allow you to refocus your attention onto something else, because God it does take some focus and concentration to stay in the bloody lines.
- Reading. This one never used to work for me, I think because I was trying to read books that I wasn't that interested therefor I would find myself getting distracted by my anxiety instead of the other way around. Lately I have been reading a lot of self-help type books- you know the ones about growing as a person and all that stuff, and I've found that because I am so interested in them I have been able to distract myself from my anxiety with reading.
While these all work on some level for me, the way they work on you may be different, or maybe you have completely different ways of dealing with an anxiety attack- it doesn't matter how we deal with it, as long as we get through it. If you want to suggest some more ways of dealing with an anxiety attack leave them below!