Anxiety & Panic Attacks: How Can I Help Myself?

Living with anxiety is never really easy. Anxiety attacks can happen any time and in any place without your bidding. For some, it could feel like being stuck in an endless loop of worries. And for others, it manifests through a series of panic attacks; breathing speeds up, chest tightens and you feel nauseous.

When anxiety takes this form, it can become extremely debilitating, making it difficult to go about your daily life. Anxiety can take a lot from you. As it puts your entire body on high alert, you may end up feeling tired and you may need some time to recover. If you are gripped by anxiety attacks, you can learn to manage and cope with the symptoms through these simple steps.



 1. Get some sleep and replenish your body

Getting enough sleep can help your body recover and provide you with energy to cope with difficult emotions. Anxiety disorders are known to cause insomnia or difficulty in sleeping. But there are different ways you can increase your chances of getting quality sleep. Medical research suggests maintaining a good sleep hygiene. This includes going to bed and waking up at consistent times, reducing environmental noise, setting bedtime mood, hydrating before going to bed and letting your brain wind down for at least an hour before sleeping.

It would also help to keep your body nourished. Drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy. Make sure you are eating at regular intervals and keeping your blood sugar in check.



2. Do some physical activity

Yes, anxiety can be physically draining and you may think that your body can’t be able to take any more physical activity. But regular exercise not only helps you maintain good physical healthy, it can also help you cope with anxiety. Medical research maintains that just 20 minutes of consistent daily exercise can help you cope with the symptoms and may even help prevent the development of anxiety disorders.


But before getting into any form of exercise, consult your physician first to make sure that you are in the right physical state to do any exercise. Some activities may be too strenuous for you, so be selective when it comes to exercise routines and choose that fit your lifestyle.



3. Mindfulness Meditation

There may be so much hype around mindfulness meditation practice these days, but there are a lot of studies that substantiate the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation in helping ease psychological stresses like anxiety and depression. The practice involves finding a quiet spot in your home, sitting comfortably, focusing on your breath and bringing the mind’s attention into the present without looking back on the past or looking at the future. What’s also great about this treatment is that anyone can do this without the help of a therapist.

If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, you can find guided meditation videos on YouTube that you can easily follow. There are also hundreds of free Android and iOS apps that you can download and install on your phone, so you can practice meditation anywhere and anytime.



4. Breathing Exercises

When you are having anxiety, often your breathing becomes erratic. It can leave you feeling like you don’t have enough air and it can cause chest pains. Learning to control your breathing and getting it back to normal pace can send a signal to your brain that you are already in a safe place and should no longer feel anxious.

Try these exercises: breathe in slowly through the nose for about 5 second, then hold your breath for about 3 to 4 seconds. Breathe out slowly through semi-closed lips (like doing a whistle) for about 7 to 10 seconds. This exercise can help you normalise your breathing.



5. Talk to someone you trust

A great way to cope with anxiety is to talk to someone trustworthy and who understands what you’re going through. Distracting your mind from negative thoughts can effectively reduce anxiety, and having a good talk can help. Just having someone listen to you and show that they care can be comforting enough, and talking to family and friends will give you a boost in confidence. Also, you may consider joining support groups to learn more ways on how to cope with your situation.


Don’t be afraid to express how you feel. Keeping your worries to yourself will only add to the emotional weight.


What if it doesn’t work?


If you think you are not improving despite self-help techniques, don’t be afraid to seek the help of a therapist. A therapist can listen to you without judgment and share with you a number of effective approaches on how to cope with anxiety disorders.


You can contact me for a one on one session or a walk and talk. A healthy therapy session combined with these self-care strategies can help you manage your anxiety issues.


Fiona Stevenson Gold Coast

Fiona Stevenson counselling psychotherapist Gold Coast

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