How to Deal with Anxiety Attacks?
According to Beyond Blue, a well-known source of mental health information, slow breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and staying in the present may help deal with anxiety attacks. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, overcoming your triggers slowly, challenging your self-talk, being kind to yourself, and planning a worrying time also help reduce anxiety. The episodes may involve a fear of a specific occurrence or problem that may occur. Symptoms such as faster breathing, nausea, dizziness, and headaches may occur. On rare occasions, it may also lead to a collapse or stopping breathing which CPR may help. Many also confuse it with panic attacks because of some similar signs but they are different from one another. See below how you may identify them so proper management may be done.
How to Deal with Anxiety Attacks through Management Strategies?
Try any of the following strategies and find what works best for you. Each person has their coping mechanisms so yours may be different from the others.
When you feel anxious and/or when breathing becomes faster, count to three as you breathe in and out slowly.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Do the following first-aid steps to reduce the feeling of muscle tension.
- Look for a quiet space
- Close your eyes
- Slowly tense and relax each of your muscle groups from toes to head
The last step will be to hold the tension for three seconds and release it quickly.
Stay in the Present Moment
Meditate and/or do relaxation exercises to help you stay in the moment and prevent yourself from having thoughts that are in the future.
How to Reduce Anxiety?
Aside from improving your overall well-being, a healthy lifestyle may also help reduce anxiety.
Be Physically Active
Following are the guidelines of the Department of Health and Aged Care regarding physical activity.
- Children and young people – up to 1 hour of moderate to vigorous activity per day
- Adults – 1.25 to 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous activity per week
- Seniors 65 years old and over – at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days
Those who are pregnant are also ideal to perform pelvic floor exercises.
Eat a Balanced Diet
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating mentions eating a variety of nutritious foods from the following food groups.
- Grains and/or high cereal fibre varieties
- Vegetables and legumes/beans
- Milk, yoghurt, and cheese
- Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, and seeds
It also recommends small amounts of oil, alcohol, and processed food.
Go Outdoors and Spend Time with Nature
According to the Nature Conservancy Australia, escaping into nature provides freedom, relaxation, and physical activity. So, going outdoors is known to have a positive impact on mental states such as anxiety and depression.
Spend time with Family and Friends
The Better Health Channel of the Victorian Government states lower rates of anxiety and depression are one of the benefits of social connections. Reaching out to people is one good way to strengthen your relationship with other people.
Emotional state is one of the many aspects the stress impacts negatively. So, manage it by applying the above healthy lifestyle habits, giving yourself time to relax, sleeping well, and enjoying life.
Find Time for Your Hobbies
The Connect Health & Community, a not-for-profit health service the Australian Government supports, states that pursuing a hobby improves mental health. It distracts you after a busy day, gives you “me time”, and provides an outlet for releasing stress. So, find time to do your hobbies regularly.
Slowly Overcome Your Triggers
BeyondBlue suggests trying to do something that makes you anxious, even in small ways, to help manage anxiety. Following are some examples you may do.
- Initiating small gatherings or one-on-one interactions with small friends
- Make spontaneous plans or set unplanned days
- Celebrate small but achievable goals
- Introduce gradual changes to your daily life such as rearranging furniture and doing new activities
Finding your trigger and coming up with ways how to deal with it on a smaller scale may be effective.
Challenge Your Self-Talk
Anxiety may make you overestimate the danger of a situation and underestimate your ability to handle it. So, change your thinking by finding positive ways to look at situations and considering the facts.
Be Kind to Yourself
Self-compassion is important to reduce anxiety and it is done by taking care of yourself in many aspects. Aside from having the above healthy lifestyle, establishing a good routine and practicing mindfulness are also helpful.
Plan Worry Time
If you are worrying about something, set some time in a day to think about it or write it down. Doing this prevents you from having thoughts of it throughout the day.
Know Your Anxiety
Knowing your triggers, keeping a diary of when you feel calm or anxious, and finding which management strategies work for you are important. Seeking help from a peer support community and a counsellor is also beneficial in helping you know your anxiety.
What is the Difference Between a Panic Attack vs an Anxiety Attack?
It may be difficult to deal with anxiety attacks properly if you confuse it with a panic attack. The Medical News Today, a USA-based health information service, states that both have similar symptoms.
Both panic attack and anxiety attack symptoms cause a rapid heart rate, shallow breathing, and a sense of distress. However, panic attacks happen without a trigger while anxiety attacks are an effect of a perceived threat.
What Help is Available for Panic and Anxiety Attacks in Australia?
Ambulance and responders who completed first aid training at Belmont Sports & Recreation Club, 400 Abernethy Rd, Cloverdale WA 6105, Australia help treat physical injuries. But, for mental health concerns such as panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and depression, refer to the following list.
- Kids Helpline -1800 55 1800
- Mensline Australia – call 1300 78 99 78
- Lifeline – call 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
- MindSpot Clinic – 1800 61 44 34
- Beyond Blue – call 1300 22 4636 or chat online
- Black Dog Institute – visit their website for an online help
Online programs and tools are also available, visit the website of Healthdirect for more information.
Slow breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and staying in the present are the management strategies that help deal with anxiety attacks. It is also possible to reduce anxiety by applying healthy lifestyle changes, going outdoors, spending time with loved ones, reducing stress, and doing other things. It’s important to differentiate it from panic attacks as symptoms are similar but only anxiety attacks happen due to a perceived threat. Fortunately, there are different sources of help and counselling available, online programs, and tools to deal with both panic and anxiety attacks.