How do I handle anxiety attacks?

Some background, some drama

Anxiety is an experience everyone feels from time to time. You may even suffer from an anxiety disorder if you experience persistent, unrealistic worrying about everyday life. However, if you experience abrupt attacks where you have symptoms, such as racing heart, nausea, tremors and intense fear, you may be having panic attacks. Panic attacks can be a frightening experience so it's helpful to know that you can limit them when they occur.

Do’s and Don’ts

With a little attention and practice, you can help relieve the symptoms of a panic attack, manage your anxiety, and prevent attacks from occurring in the future. The “How Do I" series tries to list down a few Do’s and don’ts to guide and help you to handle anxiety attacks.

Do’s

  • Breathe deeply to reduce your stress and help you focus. When you feel an attack coming on, stop and slow down your breathing.
  • Return to your rational mind. Allow yourself to think clearly. Stay present. Whatever you are doing, focus on that.
  • Look out for stress triggers. Panic attacks occur more often with stressful life events, which can heighten your vulnerability to experience a panic attack.
  • Manage your stress. Practice relaxation which helps you cope with stress and anxiety on a daily basis and can help prevent anxiety over the long-term.
  • Get plenty of exercise, which is closely related to helping you handle panic attacks.
  • Seek out treatment with a qualified mental health professional/therapist.
  • Be proactive towards panic attacks which can make you feel more in control and buffer the effect panic attacks will have on your mood and behaviour.
  • Develop strong social support systems which are essential in dealing with stress, especially in cases of anxiety disorders.
  • Talk with your doctor about prescription medications.
  • Realize that you are not alone and that help is at hand.
  • Calm down and think of positive things.

Dont’s

  • Don’t go immediately to judgments. Allow yourself to recognize that you are okay and that nothing is happening that is life-threatening.
  • Don’t indulge in stimulants, such as caffeine and nicotine which can make you feel jittery and tense and worsen existing anxiety.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your family members about their experiences with anxiety to better understand what is going on within yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid to attend a meeting andSUBMIT with other people who have had panic attacks.
  • Don’t let stress pile up in your life. Manage your stress by engaging in activities each day that help you relieve stress.

Last words

While most everyone experiences some level of anxiety, panic attacks can make you feel out of control. Panic attacks are typically unexpected, intense bursts of fear and anxiety. You may feel like you're losing control in the moment and are unable to avoid future attacks. You may suddenly feel as though you can't function, are being smothered or even think you're having a heart attack. These episodes can be debilitating and keep you from enjoying your life. But coping mechanisms can help you regain control of your life.

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