Long-term solutions for dealing with anxiety are great, but they aren’t always what you need at the moment. One of the features of anxiety is that it can create a vicious cycle in which you feel too paralyzed to do anything to try to reduce it, which in turn creates more anxiety. For this reason, it can be helpful to have a few hacks on hand that can help you stop anxiety in its tracks or at least lessen its primacy in your life quickly.
So, while you are taking steps to reduce your anxiety over the long term, such as training yourself to be more mindful, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, journaling, and talking to friends or a counselor, you can also keep the tricks below in your toolbox to get you through what’s happening to you right now.
One approach is to name what is happening to you, such as actually saying to yourself that this is an attack of anxiety even though it feels like the end of the world. You can even praise yourself for this. If you’re feeling a fight or flight response, this is not some defect in you. This is your body responding in the way it should to a threat from an evolutionary standpoint.
It’s not your fault that thanks to the fact that life is a lot easier than it was tens of thousands of years ago, the threat is a meeting with your boss instead of a woolly mammoth. Another approach is to name things around you. Some people do this in a sensory fashion, naming three or five or seven or any number of things that can they can see, hear and feel. If you’ve been practicing mindfulness, you’ll recognize this as a technique that snaps your attention back into the present moment.
Try A Medication
Talking yourself down by calmly labeling things is great, but sometimes it’s really just not enough. Choosing beta blockers for anxiety can be a great solution when you need to calm down right now and your body just isn’t cooperating with your brain.
These can be especially useful if you are overwhelmed with physical symptoms, such as a racing heart and shaking hands. You can get started with an online consultation so that you know you always have something to fall back on if you feel the need, and you can be confident that your anxiety won’t overwhelm you during big important moments.
Take An Action
Anxiety can be paralyzing. Suddenly, the expression frozen with fear no longer seems like a figurative one, so the cure for this is to get moving. In the most ideal situation, you can immediately do something very physical, like going for a run or a fast walk or doing some jumping jacks, but this isn’t always practical. When this is the case, doing almost anything at all can help to short circuit the anxiety spiral you have found yourself in.
That something might be standing up and splashing cold water on your face, getting something to drink, or attacking a spot of clutter on your desk or in your house.
It’s so simple that you’re probably scoffing at the idea that it can help, but it can, for several reasons. One of the main reasons is because when you start to panic, your breathing becomes shallow, which sets up a cascade of other unpleasant physical symptoms that ratchets your panic up even further. Another reason is that breathing gives you something to pay attention to. This can be a particularly good exercise if you are in a situation where you really can’t get up or do anything else at all.
If all you can do is sit there, just focus on your breath. Even if you’re suddenly fearful in the middle of a meeting at work or you’ve just received upsetting news, all you have to do right at the moment is breathe in and out. If it helps, picture pulling air in and breathing it back out. You may also want to count along with your breathing.
Find Your Focus
Instead of, or in addition to, focusing on your breath, you can find something else to pay attention to as well. That could mean focusing on the actual issue, such as if you have to have a meeting with your boss, and you think he’s going to fire you.
What is in your power here? You could pull up your resume and see if it needs updating. An alternate approach is to steer away from the issue entirely and focus on something that will distract you. A song, a funny video, a book, a movie you love, or a creative project might all be right here. You have to face facts sometime, but this exact moment might not be that time.