5 Effective Techniques to Calm an Anxiety Attack
Deep Breathing Exercises
One of the most effective ways to calm an anxiety attack is through deep breathing exercises. When you’re experiencing anxiety, your breathing tends to become shallow and rapid, which can further exacerbate the symptoms. Deep breathing exercises can help to slow down your breathing and provide a sense of relaxation.
To perform deep breathing exercises, find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes and place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Inhale deeply through your nose, counting to four, and feel your stomach expand. Hold your breath for a count of two, and then exhale slowly through your mouth, counting to six. Repeat this exercise for several minutes or until you feel your anxiety subsiding.
Another variation of deep breathing exercises is called 4-7-8 breathing. This technique involves inhaling deeply through your nose for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of seven, and exhaling slowly through your mouth for a count of eight. This technique can be particularly effective for calming anxiety before bed.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a technique that involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body to help reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation. PMR can be particularly helpful for individuals who experience physical symptoms of anxiety, such as muscle tension, headaches, or stomachaches.
To practice PMR, find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Then, starting with your toes, tense the muscles in that area and hold for a few seconds before releasing the tension and relaxing the muscles. Move up the body, tensing and releasing the muscles in each area, including the feet, legs, hips, stomach, chest, arms, hands, shoulders, neck, and face.
As you progress through the different muscle groups, try to focus on the sensations of relaxation and the contrast between the tension and relaxation. Repeat the exercise a few times or until you feel relaxed and calm. PMR can be a useful technique to practice regularly to help reduce overall muscle tension and promote relaxation.
Mindfulness meditation is a technique that involves focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. Mindfulness meditation can be a useful tool for managing anxiety as it can help to bring your attention back to the present moment and reduce feelings of worry or fear about the future.
To practice mindfulness meditation, find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, bringing your attention to the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath without judgment.
As you become more comfortable with focusing your attention on your breath, you can begin to expand your awareness to include your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Try to observe these experiences without getting caught up in them or judging them as good or bad.
Regular practice of mindfulness meditation can help to strengthen your ability to stay present and reduce feelings of anxiety. It can also promote a sense of calm and relaxation in the body and mind.
Grounding techniques are techniques that help to bring your attention back to the present moment by focusing on the sensory experiences in your environment. These techniques can be particularly helpful for individuals who experience dissociation or disconnection from their surroundings during an anxiety attack.
There are many different grounding techniques that you can try, but some common techniques include:
5-4-3-2-1 technique: This technique involves taking a few deep breaths and then focusing on your senses. Name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
Body scan technique: This technique involves focusing on each part of your body, starting at your toes and moving up to your head, and noting any sensations that you feel.
Counting technique: This technique involves counting backwards from a specific number, such as 100 or 50, and focusing only on the counting.
Self-soothing technique: This technique involves using one or more of your senses to soothe yourself, such as holding a warm cup of tea, listening to calming music, or smelling a relaxing scent.
Grounding techniques can be helpful in bringing your attention back to the present moment and reducing feelings of anxiety. Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you.
Self-Talk and Positive Affirmations
Self-talk and positive affirmations can be effective techniques for managing anxiety by changing the way you think and feel about a situation. Negative self-talk can often worsen anxiety symptoms by reinforcing feelings of worry or fear. On the other hand, positive self-talk and affirmations can help to promote feelings of calm and confidence.
To use self-talk and positive affirmations, start by identifying any negative or unhelpful thoughts that you have about a situation. Then, try to reframe these thoughts in a more positive or balanced way. For example, if you’re worried about an upcoming presentation, you might reframe the thought “I’m going to mess up” to “I’ve prepared well and I’ll do my best.”
Positive affirmations can also be helpful in promoting feelings of calm and confidence. These are short, positive statements that you repeat to yourself, such as “I am calm and capable” or “I can handle this situation.” You can say these affirmations to yourself silently or out loud, and repeat them as often as you need to.
Using self-talk and positive affirmations can help to shift your mindset from one of worry and fear to one of calm and confidence. With practice, you can develop a more positive and empowering way of thinking that can help to reduce feelings of anxiety.