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You know the feeling. You’re a perfectly reasonable human being and you’re having a reasonably good day. Then suddenly and for apparently unknown reasons, your brain sends one of those pesky fight or flight signals that leaves you consumed with anxiety and fear. For most of us the situation is manageable and those intensely uncomfortable feelings only last a few seconds. We tell ourselves that we’re fine and that there’s no reason to be anxious. We take a few deep breaths and carry on with our day. But what if that doesn’t work? What if those feelings of emotional turmoil stop us in our tracks? Try these tips to help you to control your panic and anxiety.
Schedule a time to worry. Everyday schedule a consistent time and place to worry and if necessary, schedule several times per day. At your chosen time, sit down and think about what is worrying you and what you can do about it. Focus on reality and what’s really happening. Avoid thinking about what may or may not happen with any given situation or person that is causing your anxiety and panic. If it’s helpful, write your worries and what you can do about them in a journal. Keep track of your progress as you cope with them.
Learn relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques are a great way to control anxiety and panic. Deep breathing, yoga, meditation, tai chi and the emotional freedom technique are all excellent ways to calm yourself. Practice your chosen technique on a daily basis. Daily practice will help to keep you calm in general, but also strengthens your ability to quickly relax when anxiety and panic grips you.
Get plenty of sleep. We all know the health benefits of getting adequate amounts of sleep. When you’re well rested, you’re better able to cope.
Exercise daily. You don’t have to buy an expensive gym membership or perform an exhausting exercise regime everyday. On a daily basis, take 30 minutes to walk around your neighborhood. Not only will the exercise refresh and strengthen you, you’ll feel more in control when you do feel panic and anxiety.
Confront the situations that cause your panic and anxiety. This can be done at your own pace and as you feel comfortable. Decide what situations cause your anxiety and panic and then purposefully expose yourself to them. Overtime, you’ll learn to control your panic and perhaps learn that you indeed had nothing to fear in the first place. This exercise also builds your confidence and self-esteem, making you better able to confront other situations that might cause panic and anxiety.
Visualization. In your mind’s eye, picture your perfect place, situation or person. Include as many of your senses, as you can, while you’re visualizing. Add to your visualization, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. As you relax, keep telling yourself that you’re fine, there is nothing to fear, no one is going to harm you, etc.
Speak to your primary physician. If you’re anxiety and panic attacks are so severe that you find yourself unable to cope, speak to your doctor. That person can prescribe anti-anxiety medication that will support you as you learn other techniques to control the anxiety and panic.
Panic and anxiety doesn’t have to control you or your life. With persistence, patience and practice you’ll control them!