Ask some people this question, and they will tell you to just “snap out of it.” However, as someone who recovered from anxiety as a sufferer and someone who treated anxiety as a psychiatrist, “snapping out of it”is certainly not the answer. The sheer intensity of the ruminating and maladaptive thoughts just churns in your head to the point where the anxiety becomes unbearable. But you can’t “snap out of it”…the thoughts are too intense, seemingly circular in logic, and lingering and repeating with no end. And this in turn may crescendo and culminate in an anxiety attack. Fortunately, there are ways to help decrease anxiety, so that it does not spiral out of control.
The following are some techniques and coping skills to help decrease anxiety:
- Take a Time Out
- Take Slow, Deep Breaths
- Cool Down
- Visualize a Relaxing Scene
- Take a Walk
- Get Fresh Air
- Relax, Listen to Music
- Get Rest, Go To Sleep
- Eat, Replenish
- Read a Good Book, Watch a Movie
- Use the Restroom
- Talk to Someone
- Focus on Something Else
- Take One Step at a Time
- Be Creative
- Ground Yourself
- Engage in your Hobby or Interest
- Write Down your Thoughts and Feelings
- Positive Self-Talk
Stop what you are doing now. Stop moving, stop talking, and stop thinking…time out. Get yourself to a place where you can pull yourself together.
Anxiety attacks may induce rapid and shallow breathing. Slow down the breathing and take deep breaths. Counting breaths is one method to slow down breathing. Count the breaths slowly, using the familiar “One-Mississippi, Two-Mississippi” and so forth. Eventually, the rhythm slows down, and the anxiety attack subsides.
Take a wet washcloth and wipe down your face and neck, as anxiety can induce heat and sweat. Cooling down can help to reduce the intensity of an anxiety attack.
Try to visualize a relaxing scene, like a day at the beach, relaxing on a hammock, etc. This helps to distract you from your anxious thoughts. In addition, the visualization is relaxing and soothing.
Walking can help to distract you from intense anxiety symptoms. It also discharges the pent-up, nervous energy associated with anxiety.
To further discharge nervous energy, consider going to the gym or going for a swim. Exercise will also distract you from your anxious thoughts. In addition, exercise releases endorphins into the brain, giving you a feeling of well-being.
In the midst of having an anxiety attack, social anxiety, or generalized worry, going outside for fresh air can help you to regulate breathing, have a change of scenery, and reduce anxiety.
Try relaxing to help calm down an anxiety attack and overall anxiety level. Try listening to calm, soothing music, light some candles with a nice fragrance, soak in the tub.
Rest and adequate sleep are very helpful to someone who is anxious, as it helps you to recover and to incorporate new techniques to combat anxiety.
Eating addresses the anorexic effects of anxiety, and eating helps to replenish calories and nutrients needed for recovery from anxiety.
Just for fun, read a good book, or watch a good movie…fun ways to take a break from anxiety. These fun activities help you to escape from the realities of your daily struggles and to escape into the story of a book or movie.
Meditation is helpful to quiet down your mind. It can help you to regulate breathing and help you to decrease overall anxiety levels.
Prayer may be helpful to decrease anxiety, and you do not necessarily need to pray to God…some people like to pray to a Higher Power. Praying to God or a Higher Power can be helpful to regain a sense of control over a situation that seems out of control. Having faith that a Higher Power can help you recover from anxiety is also considered positive self-affirmation, which is helpful for anxiety.
Voiding and ridding yourself of toxins can be helpful, as anxiety attacks can induce urge incontinence. Also, a splash of water on the face and neck can cool you down.
Seek reassurance from another person. Find a trusted person that knows how to help you through your anxiety attack. Ideally, you will have notified and educated this person on how to reassure you during an attack. This reassuring person can help to slow down your breathing, help cool you down, or just be present in case you need extra help.
Do something different…what you are focusing on now is not helpful.
Don’t plan too far ahead…one day at a time, one foot in front of the other.
Draw, play music, or write a poem.
What do you see around you? What do you smell, hear, or touch? Hold an object that is comforting, like a rock.
If you don’t have a hobby, take one up. What are your interests?
This will get it out of your head. Fill out a negative cycle form in Anxiety Protocol.
Tell yourself that you are strong and capable, and you were able to handle a similar situation before. Also tell yourself that this will pass, and in time, your anxiety will get better.
In summary, this article discussed some techniques and coping skills to help with anxiety. To learn more about techniques and coping skills for anxiety, read my book, Anxiety Protocol. Anxiety Protocol will help you to eradicate anxiety from your life.
Diane Jacobson says
I have for the first time in my life developed severe anxiety,I am 80 yrs. old. I have always had depression. My anxiety is out of control, I have had a few severe panic attacks. I can not stay asleep, it has been weeks since I had good nights sleep. I was being treated medically for depression now I am seriously affected ny anxiety, it wakes me up at night. What is the best thing I can do? I am in very bad shape.
Dr. Carlo says
Diane, please see a psychiatrist as soon as possible.