Steps to Lower a Panic Attack

If you're feeling anxious about the state of the world at this moment, that's an appropriate reaction. It would be unusual not to be concerned: Since the coronavirus hit, we've all been bombarded with terrible news. With death and infection rates increasing daily, misinformation and rumours flood the internet. You may feel trapped in a horror movie with no hero coming to rescue you.

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If you have any history of anxiety, trauma, or panic attacks, the coronavirus may have pushed your fear to intolerable levels.

Obsession, rumination, and panic are strenuous and will leave you frightened and fatigued.

The Roots of Anxiety

Anxiety is a warning signal from the body that there is danger brewing.

Sometimes fear is driven by subjective experiences, i.e., personal histories, such as trauma, injuries, or phobias

Individual experiences are frequently the storehouses of forceful emotions that have the power to distort reality.

Even a threat that is imagined can fill you with dread and leave you catastrophizing.

Other times, anxiety is driven by objective experiences, meaning that it springs from a genuine hazard in your environment, like the coronavirus. The most crushing stress occurs when subjective and objective experiences collide. 

For example, if you have a history of respiratory problems, such as asthma, your fears of the coronavirus will likely be doubled since your condition puts you in a high-risk category.

Finally, if someone you love has died, the loss could push your anxiety to levels that feel beyond your control. 

Steps to Lower Anxiety

1. Limit News. Stop bingeing on news programs and limit yourself to reliable sources, like the BBC. Avoid internet fearmongers and unreliable resources that will lead to increased jitters and information overload.

2. Take Advantage of Video Services. Use video services like Zoom to schedule virtual dates with friends or to check in with relatives, parents, and extended family. You can even schedule virtual happy hours, parties, and dates. Seeing the faces of those you love can offer much comfort.

3. Maintain Structure—anxiety spikes when structure falls apart. Try your best to maintain consistent sleeping and eating habits, and keep a steady exercise routine. Remember, studies have shown that a cardio exercise, for 30 minutes or more three times a week, can lower the symptoms of anxiety up to 70 per cent.

4. Increase Self-Care. During traumatic times, it's essential to avoid self-neglect and increase self-care. Practice self-soothing activities, such as journaling or meditation, or seek support from therapists, family, or religious communities. Avoid movies or news programs that increase fears, especially before bedtime.

5. Do a Tech Detox. Turn off your phone, close your laptop, switch off the television. Constant stimulation causes anxiety to spin out of control.

Take Charge of Your Anxiety

When anxiety gets out of hand, don't hesitate to ask for help. Call a friend, join an online support group, or have a consultation with a therapist. You'll be surprised at how much better you'll feel by taking proactive steps to lower your anxiety.

Four phases to Curb a Panic Attack and shift your relationship with anxious thoughts and feelings to come down and stop worrying by JAMIE PRICE.

Investigate

When in the grip of fear or worry, ask:

Is it really true?

Thoughts aren't facts, and they are like the weather, passing through and chang­ing all the time, so you don't have to take them so seriously or become attached to them.

Am I OK right now?

Often anxiety has to do with worry about the future, so it's helpful to deliber­ately focus on what's happening right now, in the present.

Breathe

Focus on your breath to shift out of the mental loop of anxious thoughts.

For a few minutes, intentionally breathe slowly and deeply into your belly as you also expand your lungs, and exhale naturally.

Connect

Create distance from anxious thoughts by bringing your attention to each of the senses, grounding yourself in the present.

Wherever you are, take a few, slow, deep breaths, and focus your awareness on your surroundings.

Look around, and take notice of what you see. Then notice any sound you hear. Next, tune in to smell.

Finally, reach down and touch the ground. Notice how many different sensations you feel.

Release

Feel your feet rooted to the ground. Locate anxiety in your body— your stomach, chest, or head. Slowly and gently allow yourself to feel it there. Then imagine it gathering into a dark cloud.

Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, imagine the dark cloud leaving your body.

Watch it float away until it disappears.

Tony

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