Anxiety is real! I don’t know a person alive who hasn’t had to deal with it at some point in their life. The truth is, some of us don’t deal with it as well as others. I was young when I experienced my first panic attack brought on by high anxiety and I was slightly terrified. I didn’t understand what was going on or why I had no idea something similar to an emotion could cause such a physical effect. I’m not going to lie -- my first few experiences with panic attacks just triggered more of a panic attack and higher anxiety.
I went to doctor after doctor trying to find help but they just kept prescribing me medication. I didn’t want medication – it made me feel “off" and not so much in control. I went from high anxiety of feeling too much all at once to being on medication that caused me to feel nothing at all. In my teens, I started learning how to calm myself down in the event of an anxiety or panic attack and I would like to share what I learned with you.
Not everyone deals with anxiety in the same way, so not all of the techniques will work for everyone. The most important thing about calming yourself is knowing what works best for you as an individual. Some people calm down in the silence while others might find calm in the noise. Today I’m going to share 7 techniques that work for me.
- Breathing – I’m sure you’ve heard this before but it really does work. When we get tense and anxious it increases our blood pressure -- that’s why our hearts start pounding. Sometimes it can even cause ringing in the ears. Taking several deep slow breaths will help cool down our system. There is no limit to how many breaths or expected number you should take. My motto is Breathe it out. Check out this breathing technique for a quick and effective way to center yourself. Intrigued by the power of the breath? Here are some more articles we’ve written on how you can use your breath to work for you.
- Aromatherapy – Don’t limit yourself to candles and diffusers. I found that carrying a small bottle of essential oils with me was very helpful. If panic or anxiety set in I would just dab a little oil on my wrists and rub some on my temples. Sometimes just inhaling the lavender scent was enough.
- Calming Tea – When I learned how chamomile tea helps to calm the nerves, I made it a point to drink it somewhat regularly. If I knew I was in for a hectic day at work I’d make a batch to bring with me. There are so many good teas that work well for anxiety you can even try lavender lemonade.
- Counting – Focusing your attention on something not inside your head can be a great way to temporarily distract yourself from the thoughts running through your head. Often, the trick to getting “out” of a panic attack is to find a way to break the feedback loop. Once you can interrupt your anxious thoughts, some perspective begins to filter back in.
- Music – Listening to music, singing out loud or even thinking of your favorite tune in your head works well, too. It’s all about concentrating on something other than the panic or anxiety attack.
- Visualization – We can’t always leave work or the situation we are dealing with, but I find it helps to go to my own happy place inside my head. You can do this by engaging many of your senses – feel the warmth of the sun on your favorite beach, listen to the gushing of your favorite waterfall, or feel the soft fur of your beloved pet against your skin. Engaging as many of these senses at the same time as possible can calm your body and mind down.
- The Quiet – Find your quiet place whether it is in your mind or an actual place. The quiet can bring the calm. Sometimes crowds, electronics, traffic, or other noises can be overwhelming, especially when you’re already feeling ungrounded. Find a quiet place – a park bench, your car, or even the bathroom -- and center yourself using as many of the items on the list as you’ve seen work for you.
These methods are simple but they can also be somewhat tricky in the heat of the moment. What matters most is that you find the things that are calming to you and you run with them. Dealing with anxiety can be really difficult if you don’t have some sort of outlet. Sometimes you might have to take extra time for yourself when you get it in order to center yourself. Meditation can help with that.
No matter how anxious you may get, remember anxiety is treatable, and you are not alone. Sometimes when we take the time to consider that there might be another person in the same room as us dealing with anxiety or a panic attack it helps a lot. To know you’re not alone and that there are little things you can do to overcome the feeling is awesome. Take some time for you and learn what calms your nerves and try it next time anxiety strikes…you never know until you try.