How do you stop an anxiety attack that can strike at any random moment? Even moments when it is not called for or even justified?
It takes away your ability to truly enjoy a moment or an experience by replacing your feelings of joy and excitement with feelings of terror and fear.
Mental health experts like to tell you to meditate your anxiety away. But what happens in those moments when you can’t exactly stop what you are doing to find a quiet corner somewhere to sit and be still?
What happens when meditating is inconvenient and you just have to push through?
Lately, I have been experiencing more frequent anxiety attacks. I believe it is associated with my blog and the fact that I am putting out a delicate part of myself into the world. It could also be due to all the new technical sh*t I have to learn to get and keep two blogs up and running.
I wanna connect with my readers but I also know I have to maintain and protect my mental health, so I think that is creating a paradox.
Related: Depression and motherhood: How to beat depression as a mom
The problem with anxiety though is that it can creep in and steal your conviction. Make it so that your passion seems like it’s not worth it and for some people it even makes them give up on doing the thing that is really dear to their hearts. The thing that makes you feel fulfilled.
I work from home as an ESL teacher (I’ll talk about how you can work from home as an ESL teacher in another post). Today I just wanna share my strategies with you. Anyway, I digress.
Some days I find that the anxiety attacks are so intense that I literally cannot teach my classes. I literally have to stop the class and move away from my computer.
Naturally, I can’t exactly allow anxiety to take over my life and cause me to lose my damn job right?
So how do I deal with anxiety attacks when they come around? That’s what I want to talk about today.
Here are 5 effective ways I stop anxiety attacks that work for me.
My #1 Tip to stop an anxiety attack is to breathe
I know, it sounds cliche. It sounds a bit overstated but believe me when I tell you that you will have to ensure you are taking deep breaths.
You have to become conscious of your breathing during these attacks. The reason for focusing on your breath counts is that it helps to calm your mind and helps to direct your thoughts to something other than your fears.
If the anxiety attacks you experience are anything like those I do, sometimes you’re freaking out, feeling like a nervous wreck and you can’t even pinpoint what exactly you are afraid of or why.
Most of the time it is a subconscious fear that creeps up on you and takes over, so naturally focusing on those fears will have the opposite effect to what you are trying to accomplish.
You can use free apps to help you focus on your breathing. There are tons online. I sometimes use the stress measurement and breath count function on my galaxy watch, so that’s super convenient.
But I find that just counting my breaths on my own, without the help of any device has been the most effective method for me. That might be because notifications further trigger me when I am in that state. 🤷🏽♀️
Try different ways to see what works for you, but whatever you do, breathe. Become conscious of your breathing patterns and take deep long breaths. Breathe hun. Breathe.
The 2nd thing I do to stop an anxiety attack is to journal
Writing has always been my escape, ever since I was a little girl, and for a good reason. It helps me to organize my thoughts when they are too much for me to process. I write not only when I’m sad, but also when I’m super excited and most definitely when I’m anxious.
The reason writing is so powerful is because just like breathing exercises, it takes your mind off the physical symptoms you are feeling as a result of the anxiety attack.
You don’t have to write about your feelings in that specific moment either – although that is very powerful. You can just write about anything.
I find that during an anxiety attack, trying to force myself to think about exactly how I’m feeling in that moment has been quite ineffective. It actually makes it worse because, in that moment, I don’t know what I’m feeling. So then I become anxious about not knowing how to define my feelings and that just sends me further down the rabbit hole.
I’m just feeling a lot. So for me, I just take up pen and paper, or I open a notepad on my laptop and I just start writing. Whatever comes out, is what comes out.
Keep a journal by your side at all times. When you start feeling the attack, breathe first. If it doesn’t subside, write. You can thank me later. ?
Tip #3 to stop an anxiety attack is to use affirmations.
Related: Depression and motherhood: How to beat depression as a mom
In a previous post, I talked about how much I hate blindly positive “affirmations” because they don’t acknowledge your reality. To me, they are delusions. Not affirmations.
I genuinely don’t believe that if I am currently having a goddamn anxiety attack, that repeating “I’m okay” over and over, will make me okay. WTF? I’m clearly not okay! Hence an anxiety attack. Duh! 🤦🏽♀️
First of all, understand and accept that it is completely okay to not be okay all the time. You don’t HAVE to be okay all the time. Now with that in mind, affirm yourself in a realistic way.
Here is a list of some of the affirmations I use when I’m experiencing anxiety attacks:
- -you’ll be fine
- -breathe girl breathe
- -you’ve been through this before, remember
- -you can do this
- -you’ve got this
- -you are stronger than you’re giving yourself credit for right now
- -come on Lis, you can do this
- -you’re gonna be okay
- -you’re gonna get through this
- -even if it’s a mess, you’ll be fine
- -you always come out fine
- -the only way to get through this is to go through this
- -you’ll be fine
My 4th tip to stop an anxiety attack is music
Music has come to my rescue so many times. I swear. Like numbers 1 and 2, it redirects your thoughts. I don’t believe in distracting yourself from your feelings. But I believe redirecting your thoughts can be a very effective way of overcoming an anxiety attack.
I like to listen to my country music playlist or my bad b*tch playlist whenever I need that extra boost. It sounds a bit silly and maybe even a bit superficial but it works for me. And the way I see it, if it works, it works. Anxiety is a monster so whatever you need to do to ride the wave and come out on top, girl, do it. ??
Just don’t intentionally go around negatively affecting people, lashing out at others, and just being all out mean to people intentionally. If you read my post about being a happier woman you’ll know that I’m fervently against being a b*tch towards others just because you’re in a mood.
My 5th and final tip to stop an anxiety attack is to just feel the feelings
I seriously hate hearing people tell you to “ignore” the feeling when you’re experiencing an anxiety attack. That’s so dumb. How are you to ignore the feeling when at the moment they are all that exist?
It has never been effective and it never will be. At least not for me. This is what happens when I try to ignore my feelings:
Anxiety: randomly starts freaking out
Me: ignore it Lis. Ignore it
Anxiety: Oh yeah? Why are you ignoring it? Freaks out about why I’m ignoring it
Me: *freaks out about freaking out about ignoring it
It’s a mess. I know. Go figure??♀️.
In my experience, when you let the feelings flow, they pass a lot faster. When I use affirmations, listen to music and breathe, the feelings flow and subside a lot faster than they would if I tried to ignore or suppress them.
I think the most effective thing you can do for yourself when going through or experiencing an anxiety attack, is to admit to your feelings then try redirecting those feelings by recentering yourself and trying to refocus on what really matters.
This wasn’t in my original draft but I feel I need to add it.
Change the language you use when talking about it. Instead of “my anxiety” use “the anxiety“, “anxiety” or just call it what it is: anxiety attacks. When you change the language you make it a separate entity that is not a part of you.
You want to separate it and make it apart from you. When you refer to it as “my anxiety” you own it. Remember that at the end of the day, the mind is the most powerful tool we have.
When we say “my anxiety” our minds accept it, and think about it: we try to keep what’s ours, don’t we? But when we say “the anxiety” or “I’ve been experiencing anxiety attacks” our minds try to get rid of, fight against, push out and protect against whatever attacks us. Right?
Note that I say “experience” anxiety attacks instead of “have” anxiety attacks. Because if you “have it“, it’s your right? It’s something you’re holding on to. But if you “experience” anxiety attacks then it’s something that passes since our experiences change all the time.
As a man thinketh so is he. Whatever you accept about yourself will start manifesting in your reality. I am not telling you to be delusional though. I think it is still necessary to be realistic and understand that this is something that you experience from time to time.
It is also necessary to be okay with not being okay all the time. You just have to fight back. Changing the language empowers you to fight back.
And you can do it. Remember that bravery is not the absense of fear. It is the courage to feel the fear and do it anyway.
You’ve got this girl!
You can also join the discussion in my Facebook group of other amazing women to find support! Remember sharing is caring so pin it, tweet it, whatever you do just share this post.
Thanks all for your support! ??