What To Do When Anxiety Attacks

A while back I posted about my personal experience with birth control and anxiety and how they were linked for me. It turns out that not a ton of people are talking about the subject. After getting off of birth control, my anxiety all but cleared up. It's something that I believe will always linger somewhere in the background and sometimes surface, but for the most part it's nearly completely under control.

Lately, I have been getting several emails from women who have read my post on birth control and anxiety who were asking for advice about managing their anxiety. For many women, and I'm guessing people in general, anxiety management in a bear. So I figured that I would share with my readers how to manage their anxiety in the hope that those looking for answer can find a little relief.

What I am going to share is my own personal list that I use. Keep in mind that this is not a replacement for a physician's advice. When I developed my system for dealing with anxiety I was having debilitating attacks that would sometimes find me dry-heaving and shaking uncontrollably. I would say that my anxiety was severe enough that it interfered with my ability to function normally. Because the birth control hormones were causing the panic attacks, when I became pregnant recently, I had a small resurgence in my symptoms during the first trimester (which luckily went away around week 11). These tips have been helpful for me then as well as anytime anxiety symptoms have cropped up again.

Clear Your Schedule 
When I get anxiety, one of the best things for me to do (especially if it's really bad) is nothing at all. If you can get out of social engagements, or anything else that you are obligated to do, this helps alleviate the feeling of pressure....there is literally nothing worse than knowing you have, say, a dinner date with someone in an hour and your knees are knocking with anxiety and you are thinking, "Shit, I only have 30 minutes to get myself together here!" In my experience, it heightens the anxiety. So clearing my schedule always brought my anxiety down at least a notch.

Understandably, this isn't always possible.

Acknowledging your panic 
If this seems overly simple, think about it a moment...if you suffer from anxiety, you are probably familiar with trying to hide it or act like it isn't happening. It's not as though a lot of people can tell when it does unless you have physical symptoms. But in trying to put it off, often it gets worse, and then you are wrapped in a battle that you are going to lose.

I found that giving in was one of the best ways to beat anxiety. I would say, "I am feeling anxious. I feel it in my ______." (You fill in the blank.) And then you sit with it. Generally it would pass much more quickly and/or move into a place where it was only physical and my mind was able to rationalize the experience, which I can tell you is much better than feeling mentally out of control. Get to your safe place in life, and do what feels best to you: curl up and watch a movie, take a bath, or just sit there quietly.

Deep breathing and meditation
This you have to use daily, and not as much in the moment, but I have found it to be incredibly helpful. You would be surprised what five minutes of meditation each day does for your level of anxiety. What I also found was that through sustained meditative practice, when I did get panic attacks, I could use my  meditation breathing techniques (in through the nose and out through the mouth) to help bring me back down to more normal levels.

A good place to start is HERE with these meditations. I swear by them and have used them over and over. But, of course, there is lots to choose from out there and you don't have to use just one.

This is straight up and quite simple. You have to move your body. It was the number one best thing I did for myself when I was having trouble with anxiety. For me, a high cardio routine kicked anxiety's ass time and time again. For me, it felt like I could literally sweat out the anxiety...because so often when I got anxiety I would be covered in sweat! But if you think you can skip this step, I would really think again. Exercise is incredibly balancing for the mind and body and helps us connect the two.

So go find a type of exercise that turns you on and get into it at least 3 times a week. And trust me, if you find you are not desperate enough to give and exercise, then you must not be that anxious...because a person with anxiety who wants to be rid of it will literally do ANYTHING not have it.

Therapy/ Medication 
I am not the type who thinks that medication is a solution, but sometimes you have to function, and medication can help. But a word to the wise on this one: if you are to the point where you need medication for ANY mental illness (which I know that I did at one point), you should also seriously consider a therapy regimen as well. The goal is to help fix the underlying problems, not just treat them with medication, so I am firm believer in therapy for this reason.

There is ZERO shame in needing to be on medication. And there is ZERO shame in seeking therapeutic services. Both can be infinitely helpful in getting you back to homeostasis.

So tell me, are there things that you would add to this list? Have you suffered from anxiety and had a great way of coping? Leave it for me and my readers in the comments section below.

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