Learn how to reduce the frequency and severity of your anxiety attacks by trying some or all of these ideas.
For someone with panic disorder, who has frequent anxiety attacks; life can simply seem overwhelming at times. Even individuals who have been to the doctor and are taking medication, or who are receiving counseling can continue to experience frequent anxiety attacks. The goal for many people, of course, is to stop having anxiety attacks, or at least reduce the frequency and severity of them. Take it from a pro, it is possible to reduce your anxiety attacks to a point where you feel as though your life is manageable.
1. The very first thing you must do is make a commitment to exercising on a regular basis. Studies show that exercise reduces stress, and causes the release of endorphins in the brain. You do not want to overdo it at first, because putting additional stress on your body will defeat the purpose. You do, however, want to exercise daily. Anxiety doesn’t care if you exercised yesterday. It wants to be released from your body today. Exercising early in the day can make the rest of the day a whole lot better.
2. Do not ingest caffeine in any form. This means no caffinated coffee, tea or cola, and no chocolate. Some people, myself included, cannot imagine a life without chocolate, but if you must partake, limit your indulgence to one small piece. Caffeine causes some of the same symptoms of an anxiety attack, and can bring them on in some people. For others, it simply escalates their level of anxiety, making an attack more likely later in the day.
3. Do not eat sugar or large amounts of refined carbohydrates. The weight loss experts have been telling us this for quite some time now, but this is advice you want to follow even if you don’t have one pound to lose. Sugar is a stimulant, which your body does not need, and refined carbohydrates cause your blood sugar to fluxuate, which can bring on feelings of anxiety and increase your susceptibility to an attack.
4. Take your vitamins. There is a combination of studies and antidotal evidence that shows that vitamin C can reduce the effect of stress on your body, that the B vitamins help to keep nerves healthy, and that magnesium is good for your heart. Many individuals claim that magnesium, in particular, reduces heart palpations.
5. Try Omega 3s. Lately, study after study has shown the efficacy of Omega 3 fish oil in treating depression. According to one study, fish oil supplements and exercise combined were shown to be as effective as an antidepressant in treating depression. In another, the supplements were shown to be effective even without the exercise. They have also been proven to increase cardiovascular health. Since depression and anxiety often go hand in hand, it is a good idea to supplement your diet with Omega 3s.
6. Do something engaging with your mind. Nothing is worse for anxiety than sitting around talking about it or worrying about it. Make sure that your day is filled with engaging activities. Hands-on activities are especially good for reducing anxiety, especially when it is severe.
7. Try using paradox. There is a story that Victor Frankel, the famous logotherapist, tells in one of his books about a boy who stuttered. The boy stole something, and then saw that he was about to be caught. He said to himself, “Oh, the man will probably feel sorry for a poor boy who stutters.” When the man caught up to the boy, the boy tried to make himself stutter, and to his surprise, found that he couldn’t. The lesson here is that if you feel an anxiety attack beginning to come on, invite it to do its thing. Tell yourself that you want this to be the worst anxiety attack that you have ever had. Tell it that you are waiting, and can’t it get any worse? The odd thing about anxiety is that it does not come when deliberately summoned.
8. Change your self-talk. Many motivational speakers talk about the power of words, in fact, even Jesus discussed the “power of the tongue.” This particular wisdom goes back thousands of years. What this means for anxiety is that you need to be telling yourself, preferably out loud, that you feel great, and are a strong person. Do not go around complaining about how bad you feel. If you say this, you are telling your brain that yes indeed, you do feel badly. This is an invitation for anxiety to take hold.
9. Expose yourself to the things that you have been avoiding. While this may cause an increase in anxiety attacks initially, eventually, you will become accustomed to the things that you used to perceive as threatening and the attacks will decrease, or perhaps even go away entirely in those situations.
10. Don’t worry about your anxiety disorder. This is a circular situation that can set you up for increasing the severity of your problem. Accept that you have anxiety and let it go. Don’t fight it. Anxiety loves to fight. When you feel anxiety symptoms, accept them and move on. Say to yourself, “Oh yeah, that is just the anxiety. It’ll be gone soon.”
By using a holistic approach, you should be able to reduce the frequency and severity of your anxiety attacks. If you are seeing a therapist, access whether or not your attacks have decreased since beginning to see that person. The generally accepted wisdom is that cognitive behavioral therapy is best for treating this sort of disorder. It is a good idea to make sure that any practitioner who is treating you is familiar with anxiety disorder. While it is not a good idea to try to handle it all by yourself, you want to make sure that you are in experienced hands. You are your own best advocate!