When Anxiety Strikes

By Roz Jones

Panic attacks can be the bane of your existence, and can make caring for a loved one or even living your daily life,  extremely daunting. Never knowing when – or why – an attack can hit makes life unpredictable. Searching for a way to control your anxiety is a natural step to take. 

Most anxiety attacks come on suddenly – however, there are usually warning signs. It may only be a few seconds’ warning, but if we try to identify the signs, we may be able to lessen our symptoms. Some people experience chest tightening, lightheadedness, or shaking – all are the immediate signs of a rush of adrenaline. Adrenaline is one of the main identifiable reasons for an anxiety attack.  

As soon as you feel an attack beginning to develop, stop what you are doing. If you’re driving, pull over. If you’re standing or walking, sit down. As the attack begins to flower, take slow, steady breaths. Breathe in for five seconds, and out for five seconds. One of the main things people do when they are experiencing an anxiety attack is to breathe in short, sharp gasps; by slowing and focusing on your breathing, you are distracting your mind and resetting the scales. 

Keep breathing in this fashion. If necessary, close your eyes and tilt your head back so you have a clear throat passage for air to move through. You may also find some form of self-comforting useful; try rubbing the side of your wrist with a fingertip. Remain calm, focus on your breathing and rest until the feeling has passed.

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