Try This to Stop Anxiety Attacks


Just because a panic attack happens in a situation the sufferer can’t escape doesn’t mean he or she has to suffer. Medication and therapy can be a great help, but in these instances, panic requires an immediate cure. That’s when these three quick mental tricks can be a lifesaver.


Box Breathing


A simple relaxation technique, box breathing prevents hyperventilation, slows the heart, and quickly relieves the stress driving the panic attack. It’s simple to do, and while smartphone apps exist to guide anxiety sufferers through the process, they aren’t necessary.


To start, sufferers close their eyes and breathe in slowly through the nose while counting to four. Then, they hold their breath for four counts, slowly exhale for four counts, and hold for another four while focusing on relaxing the jaw. This process repeats until the anxiety dissipates.


Object Observation


Traditionally used to improve focus, listening, and attention to detail, object observation works equally well to end an anxiety or panic attack. Sufferers can use sounds, their smartphones, an object in the room, or anything in the environment. Best of all, the sufferer can use the technique without anyone knowing.


The audio technique works by simply focusing on sounds. While standing or sitting stationary, listen carefully to the environment to identify seven different sounds. This could be a clock ticking, someone breathing, a car in the distance, or anything that makes a noise. This trick works visually, too.


Find an object somewhere in the environment. Then, make note of seven to ten characteristics that item has. For example, a coffee cup sitting on the desk may be white, warm, smooth, shiny, chipped, have wear marks, and be quite round for a typical cup. By the time sufferers come up with ten descriptors, they should feel the anxiety disappear. If it hasn’t, they simply need to choose another object and repeat the process.


Imagine Somewhere Else


A play off the last technique, anxiety sufferers sometimes find it easier to simply imagine themselves somewhere else. To make this technique work, anxiety sufferers should imagine and make note of all the little details in this happy place. So, for example, they may want to imagine their grandmother’s house. Then, make note of what it used to smell like, the way the freshly baked cookies looked on the pan, and the way her home sounded.


These techniques seem overly simplistic in comparison to the seriousness of an anxiety attack, but that’s what makes them so powerful. They are easy to learn, quick to use, and extremely effective in situations where appearances matter. Try them, practice them, and include them in a mental health toolbox for a happier, healthier life.

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