According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental illnesses in the US. Even people who do not have the diagnosis can become anxious and require therapy with an anxiety psychiatrist when symptoms are pervasive and disruptive to normal life.
The key to managing symptoms is to find techniques to manage them. Below are some strategies you can try.
Terrifying situations cause the brain to respond with a fight or flight reaction. The heart rate rises to pump blood to organs, preparing the muscles for action. It also causes fast breathing to deliver more oxygen to the muscle, resulting in shortness of breath.
Deep breathing helps calm the stress and tension that come with these symptoms. Here's how to do it:
Anxiety also arises from a consistent flow of fearful thoughts. While these are hard to stop once the panic has started, you can ease into calmness through diversion. Try to visualize a relaxing scenario or find a "safe space" in your head. You can think of anything that helps you get out of your racing fears.
You can also try to change the theme in your head with music. Choose a song or type of music that relaxes you or reminds you of a happy time, and let it take your mind to a comfortable place. There are many meditative playlists on streaming platforms that you can save and have at hand during anxious days.
Another way to regain control of your thoughts and fears is through writing, specifically panic journaling. You don't need structure or grammar checks to do it. You just write what comes to mind with the aim to explore your current state of mind or emotion.
Using writing is one way to accomplish this. You can start with writing prompts and questions that pertain to your anxiety and answer them as you go.
An anxiety attack can make one feel like nothing is within control and that danger or death is inevitable at any moment. A technique called grounding is one way to deal with it. It involves finding elements around you to help your brain recognize reality and the present moment. The aim is to create a sense of being in control and safe.
To use grounding to calm your anxiety, identify the following in your surroundings:
Learning how to cope with anxiety and its symptoms takes time. It takes time and, for the most part, with the help of mental health professionals. Prioritize your mental health and reach out to a professional to better manage current or emerging symptoms.
Dr. Ronald Lee of Luminous Vitality Behavioral Health is an anxiety psychiatrist who works with adult patients using pharmacologic and psychotherapeutic approaches. If you’re ready to speak with a mental health professional, book a telepsychiatric appointment by filling up our Luminello form.