If you’re suffering from anxiety attacks you know that it can literally feel like you’re dying. My battle with overcoming anxiety spanned five long agonizing years. I still remember the day of my last major attack like it was yesterday.
I was attending a large spiritual event with an audience of over two thousand people. I had recently moved across the country and knew very few people. Earlier that year, the divorce from my first husband was finalized. Then six months later, my father died after a sudden and brief battle with Stage 4 Liver Cancer. To say that I was experiencing a whirlwind of emotions would be an understatement.
So, here I was at what was supposed to be an encouraging event and the reality of what I considered to be a failed marriage coupled with grief was slowly making itself manifest, tightening my chest and creating a lump in my throat.
I had been hiding behind a forced smile for far too long and I’d had enough. And in my mind, everyone in the audience could read through my pretenses and see that I was about to crumble. So, I scanned the room for the nearest exit and bolted. Once I reached my car I sat in the driver’s seat with the keys on my lap, squeezing the steering wheel as I let out a wailing cry.
Suppressed emotions are a breading ground for anxiety attacks.
Anxiety attacks are a sudden episode of intense fear and is actually a build up of suppressed emotion. I’ve learned that the key to reducing anxiety attacks is to stay in tuned with my feelings and thoughts.
Here are my proven and tested 5 Most Effective Skills to Reducing Anxiety.
FIVE PROVEN WAYS TO REDUCE GENERALIZED ANXIETY
- Be in the present moment. So, here’s the reality: The body’s biological responses in a crisis are either Fight or Flight. Anxiety or fear is the outward manifestation of flight. But, you don’t NEED to feel anxious or afraid in order to take action. That is why it can be said that “Fear is an irrational response based on a perceived future event which may or may not happen”. So, to stay in control and channel fear and anxiety properly check in with yourself: “Where am I?” “Where are my thoughts?” If you find that you’re worrying about the future, snap your fingers (I sometimes use a hair tie or rubberband on my wrist) and focus on the present moment.
- Activate the five senses.
- Place your hand on your chest and feel your heartbeat.
- Exhale and listen to your breathing.
- Open your eyes and look around as you find 5 tangible items.
- Inhale and smell your surroundings.
- Grab a glass of water to Taste.
- Release negative emotions from the past. Feelings of anger, sadness, fear, hurt and guilt will continue to wreak havoc on your life until you let go of the negativity connected to them. Disconnect the link between past events and what is happening now. How do you do this? Choose instead to find the takeaway lesson to help you with the here and now. Then realize that even though you once had negative feelings about that past event, it is over. Even the worst storm has an end.
- Take an emotional and mental inventory. When you feel overwhelmed, what do you say is the problem? Everything? Well, in order to tackle your concerns and gain clarity, you must pinpoint specific pain points.
- Expand your vocabulary. How do you describe your feelings when you’re anxious or afraid? Are the words actionable or immobile? Words like can’t, won’t, shouldn’t, stop, etc. literally create a barrier in your mind and can inhibit healthy thoughts from flowing freely. Actionable words are more powerful and encourage creativity and innovation. Examples of these are: will, able, excited, empowered, anticipating, determined, motivated. Feel the difference of when you’re say “I’m terrified!” versus “I’m a little apprehensive. Let me figure out why.”
Here’s the takeaway point: Generalized anxiety is manageable. In time, you can even conquer it completely. Be patient with your progress. Every little step forward is improvement.