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How To Stop An Anxiety Attack: 6 Things That Help Us Feel Better

Some of the Best Tips for How We Stop an Anxiety Attack.

So, let’s dive right in. Whether you are suffering from an anxiety attack or feel one coming on, it’s totally normal to feel this way. It sucks – but everyone has levels of anxiety. Even us. What we want to do is find the best ways/tips that work for us to help keep an anxiety attack away at all costs.

That said, our best efforts can sometimes fail. There can be triggers we do not account for and all of a sudden… here we go into full-on panic mode. That tightness in our chest, increased breathing, mind racing kinda feeling? Yeah, we know what that’s like.

So, whether it’s at night or during the day, here are 6 tips for how we can usually stop our anxiety attacks that are already happening.

Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals and are purely speaking from personal experience. These are things that have helped us during anxiety attacks. If you suffer from anxiety, please consult a medical professional for any questions and concerns.

Breathing

This is an easy one but one that is so important: we focus on our breathing. We make sure we are taking in deep, meaningful breaths. Regulating our breathing can help slow our speeding pulse almost instantly – and it helps our body better gauge what kind of struggle we’re in.

Plus, breathing properly and deeply gets more oxygen into us – something our brain needs to process what is going and to adequately handle what we’re feeling. We breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 4, breathe out for 4 seconds. Then repeat as needed. We talk more about the importance of breathing in our other post on coping strategies for anxiety on a long-term basis.

Mantras

We have already talked about some helpful mantras for calming the mind. Having a repeatable go-to set of words is important for focusing on a task as well as self-reassurance. The trick was to find a word set that resonates with us on a personal, emotional, and spiritual level. One of Bruce’s favorites was always “That cave is not meant for you”.

For Bruce, this meant that he was peering down a dark cave with a lantern but would not enter it. The cave was his mind and the darkness was always the tangled web of worry that was hard to escape. Some days, he isn’t meant to walk down that cave. So he acknowledges that the entrance is very close by… but wanders elsewhere. It’s that simple. He doesn’t have to feel it today. He is in control.

Visualization

A super powerful tool Bruce used when he would feel his chest tightening was visualization. There are endless things that he can think of – scenes, patterns, movements in his mind. They all have different merits and values.

Bruce’s was always like this: Imagine a bunch of green rolling hills with blue sky on the horizon. From right to left, he would let a puffy white cloud enter the blue sky and blow across the scene in his mind. As the cloud was passing, he visualized pushing the negative thoughts and energy into the cloud, filling it as it floated by.

Once the cloud was full, he would speed up the wind and send it off into the distance of the scene in his mind. He would repeat as needed filling new clouds until the tightness in his chest was gone. Once it worked the first time, it worked 97% of the time after that for years.

Exercise

Engaging in vigorous exercise is another good way to stop an anxiety attack. One of the mechanisms for this is simply because exercise puts a greater physical stressor on the body and the mind focuses on it for the time being. Once we begin exercising, other mechanisms kick in – like endorphin release. All these together can have a powerful effect on reducing and eliminating anxiety.

Rowing, running, cycling – these are all good high-intensity exercises that can put our bodies through stress (safely) and quickly to forget about what’s going on in the mind. We like hiking and live near the woods, and there are other benefits to hiking that include seeing the therapeutic side of nature!

Apps

As much as our phones enslave us, they also connect us – and they can hold tools that can help us when we are in need, too. There are plenty of great apps for breathing techniques or practicing yoga, mindfulness, or de-stress sessions right on our phone wherever we are.

Lots of these sessions are focus-based to make sure that our anxiety doesn’t spin out of control. Headspace is one such useful mindfulness app out there and it can help keep anxiety at bay and stop it from even ramping up.

Outreach

If we are having an anxiety attack, one of the best things that we can do is to talk through our feelings. Talking to someone like a friend, counselor, or help phone in our community or country are all great ideas.

Often, thinking through the ideas/thoughts logically makes them less scattered in our head and we can pinpoint exactly what the trigger was this time so as to avoid it or deal with it next time. Sometimes, we even “word vomit” – just to get those words off our chest. When we do this, we can usually physically feel the tightness in our chest lessening.

And there you have it – 6 ways we stop an anxiety attack. In the end, these will work differently for everyone. Some will work right away while others won’t. That’s okay – we just try something else! Get in touch and tell us which of these tips worked (if you try any) – we’d love to hear if you want to share @boardandlife on Twitter.

As always, Stay Curious,
-L&E

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