The first thing you feel is a sudden tinge of fear. It’s faint at first, creeping through your every thought and preventing you from focusing on anything else. But this feeling of dread soon picks up speed and molds itself into red-hot terror and panic. You can no longer control your breathing, your head begins to spin and all you feel is your world crashing down. This is what it feels like for 10 percent of the country who suffer from anxiety attacks.
Sadly, it’s common for people who suffer from anxiety attacks to use drugs and alcohol as a way to cope. Drugs and alcohol might provide relief in the short-term, but they will end up doing more damage in the long run. Fortunately, there are healthy ways to manage your anxiety attacks.
What is an Anxiety Attack?
An anxiety attack is a severe and sudden episode of terror or dread linked to specific triggers or events that make you feel overwhelmed. These feelings of panic and fear during an anxiety attack usually peak within 10 minutes.
During that short time, you can experience such intense stress that you feel like you’re going to lose control over your body and mind. While anxiety attacks tend not to last long, you may experience additional panic as you worry about experiencing another one.
5 Healthy Ways to Manage Your Anxiety Attacks
1. Practice Box Breathing
Box breathing is a simple stress relief exercise that can help you find a sense of calm during an anxiety attack. It starts by exhaling to a count of four – then holding your lungs empty for the next four seconds. Next, you’ll take a steady inhale at the same pace – and finally hold your lungs empty again for four seconds. You can run through the cycle as many times as you need to help you calm down.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the act of being more in touch with the present moment. Through mindfulness practice, you’ll become more adept at acknowledging your feelings of anxiety and letting them pass. A great place to start is by practicing with some mindfulness meditation exercises. You can find beginner meditations on Headspace or the Calm apps.
3. Focus on a Distraction
One of the best actions you can take during a panic attack is to distract yourself. Turn on your TV and put on a funny movie or start playing a puzzle game on your phone. The more you can keep your mind occupied, the less momentum your anxiety can gain. Start by creating a list of distractions so you’re ready the next time you feel an anxiety attack coming on.
4. Picture Your Happy Place
Going to your happy place is more than just a gimmick you see in movies – it’s a useful technique that can keep your mind clear. Take some time to imagine the most relaxing place you can think of. Maybe it’s an open clearing in the mountains or a rustic loft that overlooks a scenic beach. Whatever it is, try to picture as much detail as you can. The next time you have an anxiety attack, you can return to your mental oasis and feel a sense of calming comfort.
5. Recognize that You’re Having an Anxiety Attack
Part of what gives an anxiety attack power is the mystery behind it. The fear and panic cause your mind to race as it tries to identify the threat. By taking a minute to recognize that you’re having an anxiety attack, you can take away some of its power. Remind yourself that anxiety attacks are temporary, breath through it and distract yourself, and it will pass.
Discover Holistic Anxiety Treatment in Denver
If your anxiety attacks are happening on a regular basis, it might be time to find help. At The Raleigh House, we offer a continuum of care that can help you uncover what is triggering your anxiety and develop healthy ways to manage your symptoms. Using both evidence-based treatments and experiential therapies, we can help you take control of your mental health disorder.
You don’t have to turn to drugs or alcohol to find relief from your anxiety. Our expert mental health and addiction team is ready to help you heal. Contact our admissions team today to learn how we can help you recover from your anxiety disorder.