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Having an Anxiety Attack? Here are Three Ways to Calm Down

By Chandra Pepino For Belo Medical Group on January 27, 2021

Have you ever stayed up late (and we mean late) into the night, crippled by our own thoughts, worries, and fears? Have these thoughts overcome you to the point that you can no longer breathe or function properly? That’s an unfortunate occurrence known as an anxiety attack. And in today’s work-heavy, fast-paced world, more and more young people are seeing it as part of their new normal. If you find yourself suffering from an anxiety attack, here are three ways to calm yourself down.

  1. Ride it out.

According to Professor Paul Salkovskis, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science at the University of Bath, try as best you can to ‘ride out’ the attack. “Try to keep doing things. If possible, it’s important to try to remain in the situation until the anxiety has subsided. Confront your fear. If you don’t run away from it, you’re giving yourself a chance to discover that nothing’s going to happen.”

The more you resist the fact that you are having an anxiety attack, the more it will loom over you and worsen the situation. Try to sit and make peace with the situation. Say to yourself, “I know I am having an anxiety attack right now, but I’m going to be OK.” And it’s true, because you will be.

  1. Focus on your surroundings.

Another tip from the Rose Hill Center, a mental health facility in Michigan, USA: “Deliberately thinking about items around you that you can smell or hear will help distract you from the anxiety itself so you can calm yourself.” In the midst of your attack, you can try looking for things that are green, or naming the first five things you see—anything that helps ground you.

  1. Inform those around you.

Says Dignity Health, “Never be afraid to explain your circumstances. Panic attacks are not dangerous. They usually only last a few minutes, but can be unnerving to those around you who don’t understand what’s happening and don’t know how to help you.” Do your very best to inform those around you of what’s happening. “If you have a panic attack in the presence of people who don’t know you well, the best course of action may be to quickly explain that you have a panic disorder and that the attack will pass if you’re allowed to remain calm and use your techniques.” 

Anxiety attacks are nothing to be ashamed of, and seeking help to overcome them should be as normalized as seeking help for any physical sickness. By being more open about our mental health struggles, we can lessen the stigma surrounding them, little by little. Remember that you have friends and family who care about you, and that you are strong enough—yes, you are—to get through your anxiety attacks. 

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