• Erika Cadenas

5 Strategies to Calm Your Anxiety


When you live with an anxiety disorder, any moment can become one that creates a slow-rising panic within you. Life is normal one second and the next, you feel your chest tighten and your heart begins to race. You may begin to hyperfocus on future events and find yourself getting lost in “what- ifs.” You may find yourself thinking about what has happened in the past and what can happen in the future. To make matters worse, you may then begin to berate yourself for allowing the panic to get the best of you and begin to believe that all of those what-ifs are indisputable facts. Luckily, there are many powerful tools and techniques you can use to manage your anxiety effectively.


Breathe Deeply

The minute you feel a panic attack coming on, the first thing to do is stop and gain control of your breath. Deep, slow breathing sends a signal to our brains that everything is safe in our environment. Controlled breathing is one of the most powerful ways to activate your body’s relaxation response. It will take your mind and body out of “fight or flight” mode and put it instantly into a calm and relaxed state. Focus and connect with your breath despite the anxiety you may find yourself experiencing.


Accept That You are Anxious

It’s important to always remember that anxiety is “just a feeling.” And like all feelings, it can go as quickly as it came. You are having an emotional reaction to a string of thoughts. Accept your anxiety because trying to pretend it’s not happening will only make matters worse.Remember that anxiety is real and it can be extremely physically and emotionally debilitating. Let’s be clear - by accepting your anxiety, you are not resigning yourself to a life of eternal misery. You are not throwing in the towel and trying to suddenly like your anxiety. Nope. You are simply living a more mindful existence, being in the moment, and accepting whatever is in that moment with you.


Understand Your Emotions Cannot Kill You

One of the most frightening things about a panic attack is the feeling that you are having a heart attack. But you aren’t. Your brain can and will play tricks on you, trying to get you to believe that you are in physical danger. But the truth is, you are not in physical danger. You are having an episode based on emotions and it will pass. Remind yourself of that as many times as you need to.


Question Your Thoughts

When your panic attack begins, your mind begins to throw out all sorts of outlandish ideas at you, hoping some of them stick. These thoughts are intended to keep the panic attack going. They contribute to what is known as the vicious cycle of anxiety. Before you take any of these thoughts as reality and truth, question them. For instance, if your mind

throws things out like, “No one here likes me. I am for sure going to screw this up. I probably left the stove on. And I’ll no doubt get stuck in bad traffic on the way home and maybe even get a flat tire so I will then be stranded, and on and on and on…” Question these ideas. Are you TRULY not liked by everyone around you? Most likely not. Are you really going to screw up? Probably not. Traffic? Well, maybe but a flat tire? Chances are no. While challenging anxious thoughts may be one of the most difficult things, it can be the difference between believing it is happening vs challenging the reality of the situation. Always question your thoughts. You will usually find the majority aren’t very realistic or probable.


Visualize

Picture somewhere serene that brings you peace and calm. Maybe this is your grandparents’ old house or a lake you’ve visited before. Maybe it’s that fantastic beachfront condo from your last vacation. Just picture it in your mind’s eye and really put yourself there. See it, smell it, feel it. Feel how calm it feels to be in this space that is perfectly comforting and safe.


Use these techniques the next time you experience an anxiety attack. They should help you feel much calmer much sooner. As a reminder, practice, consistency and reinforcement. Regaining control of your anxiety takes time and a lot of patience with yourself. If you would like to explore treatment options for your anxiety, please get in touch with me. I'd be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

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