Before I begin, I have to tell you, though I don’t suffer from extreme anxiety or panic attacks, I do have the odd bout show up and freak me out every now and then. I never really understood what these were and when I discovered it was an anxiety attack, that time it was a panic attack.
I had to find out how to deal with anxiety and these crazy random attacks I was having.
Let’s be real, anxiety attacks suck. Especially when you have no clue what’s happening to you and you have no experience dealing with anxiety attacks. My very first one freaked me out. I remember it like it was yesterday.
My first anxiety attack
It was probably about 15 years ago or so. I was standing in line at Walmart. Everything was normal. I was humming to the music and patiently waiting my turn and then whammo. Walmart started spinning, I couldn’t breathe, the beating in my chest was beyond ridiculous and I was freaking the eff out.
What’s happening to me? What’s going on?
I felt like everyone was staring at me (though they weren’t) and I was sure I was going to pass out or die. I was alone and terrified.
At that time, I didn’t even know what an anxiety attack was much less know how to deal with anxiety. It was brutal and terrifying!
Getting anxiety help
When I finally made it back home and talked to a couple of people about what happened they told me what it was. I was shocked. Why would I be having anxiety attacks? My life is relatively stress free and normal. I didn’t get it.
It slammed me without warning.
I knew then that this was probably the beginning and I should look into getting some sort of anxiety help or at the very least, find out why it happens and what to do next time it happens. I was clueless standing in the lineup at Walmart, and petrified!
I wanted to make sure that next time it happened I knew how to deal with anxiety and though you’re never really prepared for it, at the very least, you’l know how to handle it.
What is anxiety?
We first need to know exactly what it is and what can cause it. Though I thought my life was pretty stress free, apparently it wasn’t. Stress is a common factor in anxiety. So what exactly is anxiety?
I found this amazing resource that explains it all in great detail.
Healthline really breaks it down simply and very in-depth.
Anxiety comes in many shapes and sizes so it’s really hard to narrow it down and give it a simple fix. It doesn’t work like that. We all have different forms from mild to severe. There are many who have severe anxiety attacks who need medication to control it or help them in dealing with anxiety.
Some of the most common symptoms of an anxiety attack are:
- shortness of breath
- pounding in your chest
- hot flashes
- severe lightheadedness
When I was having my first attack, I suffered all these symptoms! Oy! What a mess I was. Do you recognize any of these symptoms? Did you also not know what caused them and brushed them off like I did?
Remember, I had no clue how to deal with anxiety let alone know what an attack was so I did a bit of reading up on it.
I don’t have extreme anxiety so when I have an attack I can settle it down quite nicely with a few simple tricks.
How to deal with anxiety
If you suffer from the random anxiety bout, know that there are easy ways in dealing with anxiety. Thank God! There is no quick fix however and I’m not saying you will never have an attack again but these tips will help you next time you do have one.
Though these tips may actually sound like common sense, when you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack there’s no such thing as common sense. Let’s face it, we feel like we’re dying!! Try to follow a few of these steps next time you have an attack though.
I’m no expert on how to deal with anxiety and I certainly am not going to offer anxiety treatment, but I think these tips will help you.
They certainly help me!
Sit down and breathe
If you can, sit down where you are, even if it’s on the side of the road or in the middle of a grocery store. This will prevent you from falling down and help calm your nerves and breathing a bit. Take some nice easy breaths in and out. Focus on your breathing and not the fact that your heart is beating out of your chest.
Talk to someone
If you are alone at a store and this happens, grab the first person you see, tell them you are having an anxiety attack and ask them to please talk to you. About anything, everything and nothing. Just talk to them and have them talk back. It will help take your mind off of what is happening to you right now.
Get water or gum
Try to find/drink water and/or get some gum or a light snack. Now I know you probably aren’t thinking about eating anything at this time but it will give your mind another job. Chew chew chew. Try to get some water or juice or something to drink. Doing these simple little gestures will help take your mind off of things, even if only for a short while.
Talk to yourself
Yup, sounds odd, but if you are alone and have no one to talk to, you gotta talk to yourself. Remind yourself it’s just an anxiety attack and you’ll be ok. Tell yourself to breathe, sit down, concentrate on the fact that it’s only temporary and shortly it will be over. Repeatedly remind yourself to breathe in and out slowly and gently.
Find something to play with
Odd again, I get that, but when you find something to fidget with, keys, a pen, your purse or wallet or whatever, it also helps to take your mind off of what is happening. You need a distraction. You need give your mind something else to concentrate on besides the fact that you feel like you’re dying. The key here is to try to distract yourself from this anxiety attack in order to help the mind and heart to calm down.
It’s no fun but it doesn’t have to rob you of life
Many people use their anxiety attacks as an excuse to not do something and I totally understand that some have such severe attacks that they simply just can’t do some things. I totally get that.
For the rest of us, we can control them and you can learn how to deal with anxiety in order to live a full and happy life.
Here are a few things you can do to reduce the frequency of anxiety attacks!
Though there is no quick fix, if you try to implement a few new healthy strategies in your life, chances are you can reduce anxiety attacks.
Stress is still in the top 5 triggers of anxiety. Have a look at your life and see where you can reduce the stress in your life. Sometimes family or work is the cause of stress. There are ways to deal with, but that’s a whole other blog post. Remove the things in your life that are stressing you out. Easy to say, hard to do, but not impossible.
Peace and Love
xo iva xo