Your heart is pounding and you think you are going to die.
Overwhelmed with fear, your thoughts are racing and you have that deep sinking feeling that something is going to go wrong.
Yet again, anxiety has reared its ugly head and you are left paralyzed at how to respond.
In fact, one of the most crippling parts of anxiety is feeling powerless to stop it.
It seems even though we think we have prepared enough and identified anxiety “triggers”, it’s easier said than done when your anxiety attack happens in real time.
But anxiety doesn’t have to win this time.
Here are some ways to beat anxiety in real time.
Oftentimes when you are anxious, your anxiety actually can cause you to not breathe properly.
If you are experiencing a panic attack, take a moment and take 3 deep breaths.
Yes, it sounds elementary but it’s critical.
Instead of hyperventilating, teach yourself how to take slow breaths and just breathe. Slowing down your breathing and taking deep breaths does wonders in the heat of an attack.
Let’s be honest – when anxiety strikes the hardest our brains are spinning and can’t focus on reality.
The “5-4-3-2-1” technique is used by counselors and therapists everywhere as a simple tool to get you to focus in real time.
To start, select FIVE things you can see, this can be anything – a spot on the wall, a tree outside, your own arm, etc.
Next, look for FOUR things you can touch – your shoes, the ground, your steering wheel, etc.
Then, listen for THREE things you can hear – the birds, car horn, music, etc.
After that, acknowledge TWO things you can smell – it can be lotion, the smell of fresh grass, coffee in the coffee shop, etc.
Finally, think of ONE thing you can taste – mint gum, aftertaste from breakfast earlier, whatever!
This technique has helped many people ground themselves in the middle of an anxiety attack.
Stay In The Present
Many people become anxious because they worry about what is going to happen in the future.
And oftentimes, our mind jumps to the worst-case scenario when we imagine what could happen.
Our minds play out all the things that “could happen” – and next thing we know – we’re anxious.
Web MD reports:
“People with anxiety often fixate on worst-case scenarios, Chansky says. To combat these worries, think about how realistic they are. Say you’re nervous about a big presentation at work. Rather than think, “I’m going to bomb,” for example, say, “I’m nervous, but I’m prepared. Some things will go well, and some may not,” she suggests. Getting into a pattern of rethinking your fears helps train your brain to come up with a rational way to deal with your anxious thoughts.”
But as we find out, these things often don’t even happen and we end up worrying for nothing!
To help fight this vicious cycle, stay in the present.
Taking a moment to pray to God to help you fight your anxiety should be first on the list.
Meditating on God’s word and reading Scripture where God tells us:
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6
Some people have found relief by just reciting a favorite Bible verse or saying a verbal prayer.
Too tired to audibly speak?
Consider setting aside time either in the morning or evening and writing out your prayer requests, or keep a small notebook with you where you can write down your prayers in the moment when you feel anxious.
Know You Are Not Alone
Having anxiety can make you feel isolated like you are the only one struggling.
But that is a lie!
The Anxiety And Depression Association Of America states anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., with over 40 million adults in America suffering from anxiety.