Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have control over your body when experiencing symptoms of anxiety? Well, here are some tools for you to use the next time you're feeling that heart pounding, sweaty palm feeling!
The very first step in this process is being able to recognize what sends you into a panicked state. Is it a situation you get involved in, is it a person or people in general, or is it a feeling you get on your own time? Being able to identify what creates the stress will help you learn how to cut it off before it worsens in the future.
Understand your physical reactions to stress
Start thinking back on past situations in which you felt symptoms of physical anxiety. What was going on with your body at that time? Did your heart begin to race? Did your vision blur or tunnel? Was there shortness of breath? By taking note of your past symptoms, you will be able to predict your future physical responses. Many people who are unaware of their physical symptoms of anxiety or panic sometimes feel as if they are experiencing medical issues that require immediate attention. By learning to recognize the difference between an anxiety attack and a medical problem (which can look similar sometimes), will help you calm your body and mind over time.
Practice slowing down your mind and breath
I know many psychology and counseling articles stress the importance of breathing techniques, but do you know why? Because they work! When you slow down your breathing you are also slowing down your adrenaline reaction created by the stress or anxiety. Often what happens when we feel physically anxious our bodies react by breathing in fast and shallow breaths. This can in turn amp up the anxiety and possibly create a panic attack. Slowing down your breathing will help your body regain control of itself.
It is also important to mentally remind yourself that you are simply experiencing side effects of physical anxiety, and that you are aware of the familiar feeling. Also be sure to identify what some of the triggers were that might have prompted it. Despite the assumption that anxiety is always prompted by some sort of occurrence, sometimes anxiety is not foreshadowed by anything in particular. Occasionally, the body has become habituated to being anxious, therefore will send you into a tailspin of physical side effects. That's ok! Still work your way through this process to re-center and calm.
Have a list of coping skills on hand
In many of my previous articles, I've listed the importance of coping skills, and again I cannot stress this enough! A written list is often best for times of crisis or panic due to our inability in those times to know off the top of our heads what to reach for technique or tool wise. Whether you enjoy going for a walk, watching something funny on YouTube, or talking to someone, write it down and keep that list for your next anxiety attack.
As humans, we all experience symptoms of anxiety. It is part of our emotional makeup, and will look different for everyone. Be aware that over time anxiety can change based on your ability to manage your symptoms or different life stressors that arise. If you still find yourself unable to control your anxiety after trying out the techniques in this article, don't hesitate to contact a local counselor. I myself have worked with many individuals who have suffered from anxiety and have successfully helped those people in reducing their symptoms with techniques and tools learned in session. So if you still need help, contact me today at the information listed below.
Devin Pinkston is a local mental health counselor and Gender Therapist in Grand Junction Colorado. Call to schedule a free consultation today at 970-644-2392.