How to Handle Anxiety Attacks Effectively

My Experience of How to Handle Anxiety Attacks Effectively

I’m not a psychologist or doctor, but this is my experience of how to handle anxiety attacks effectively in the moment, ongoing and long term. I hope these panic attack (or stress attack) tips help you!

Whether or not there’s major upheaval in our world on a global, national, or personal basis, anxiety attacks can cripple us and make life even worse.

I’ve had many stressful situations in my life, but it wasn’t until last summer that I had my first full blown panic attack.

I was literally waking up in the middle of the night gasping for breath and feeling like I was going to die.

The tips I’m offering herein on how to handle anxiety attacks effectively come from advice from professional health experts and my own experience.

Many students struggle with anxiety while at college. It usually derives from the stress, which in turn is a result of heavy academic workload.

In the meantime, here’s what worked for me…

In the Moment Anxiety Attack

1. Precise breathing.

What to do:

  • Inhale for a 3-4 count through the nose
  • Exhale for a 6-7 count through the mouth

Or

  • Just inhale & exhale for 4-5 counts in & out

How it helps:

  • Reduces the stress hormone: cortisol
  • Increases calm

2. Use your senses.

What to do:

Name:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

How it helps:

  • Focuses on presence
  • Reduces physiological effects (rapid heart beat etc)

3. Listen to music.

What to do:

  • Choose calming or uplifting tunes
  • Avoid depressing music

How it works:

  • Music triggers long term memory and associated feelings.

4. Get into nature.

In Japan, they call it “forest bathing.” Imagine the comforting embrace of your Creator.

What to do:

  • Go for a walk in the forest
  • Walk barefoot on the grass
  • Tend a plant or garden

Bonus: Get and care for a pet! #GetaRescue

How it works:

  • Grounds (stabilizes) energy
  • Creates calm

5. Exercise.

What to do:

  • Go to the gym
  • Do a home workout like yoga
  • Walk, hike

How it works:

  • Increases endorphins, reduces cortisol

Bonus tip: High intensity interval training can increase cortisol. If your goal is to reduce anxiety, aim for more soothing exercises.

6. Reach out to a friend.

What to do:

  • Text, IM, Skype / Facetime, Call!
  • Ask for permission before venting!

How it works:

  • Connection and understanding
  • Gets incessant thoughts out of the head

When we’re in fight or flight, we can’t grasp reason or logic.

Potential solutions can be found when our limbic system (fight or flight) calms down.

An empathetic friend, family member or counsellor can help get us there and if we don’t overuse the privilege, they’ll be there for us when needed.

7. Write things down, make an action plan.

What to do:

  • Write down the problem/s
  • Write down the potential solutions
  • Choose a solution and take action toward it

How it works:

  • Every action (including making an action plan list!) reduces stress hormones
  • Every action increases feel-good endorphins (hormones)

The above tips are how to handle an anxiety attack effectively in the moment, but let’s look at how to reduce their frequency.

Ongoing Anxiety Management

8. Avoid negative influences.

What to do:

  • Avoid OCDing on the news
  • Avoid toxic people
  • Watch a comedy

How it works:

  • Reduces stress triggers
  • Increases feel-good hormones

9. Meditate.

What to do:

AJ method:

  • Breathe in a positive word. Example: love!
  • Release a negative word. Example: fear!

Or

  • Focus on a hobby!

How it works:

  • Slows breathing (see #1)
  • Takes our mind off the stress trigger

10. Journal / write in a diary

What to do:

  • Write thoughts down
  • Pray on paper
  • Write affirmations

How it works:

  • Gets incessant thoughts out of head
  • Surrenders fear
  • Encourages hope

11. Eat healthy.

What to do:

Avoid:

  • Processed foods!
  • Sugar!
  • Chemicals (MSG)!

How it works:

  • Gut bugs affect hormones
  • Hormones affect mental state
  • Imbalance of bugs can create imbalance of thoughts

Reminder, I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, this is simply what worked for me.

12. Sleep well.

What to do:

An hour or two before sleep time:

  • Turn off electronics
  • Read a read paper book (not digital)
  • Have a nighttime routine
  • Lower the lights
  • Meditate before sleep
  • Maintain the same sleep / wake times
  • Quiet, dark room

Bonus tip: If possible, remove all electronics from bedroom and only use bedroom for sleep and sex! 😉

How it works:

  • Shuts off EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) that some believe affect melatonin (our natural sleep hormone) off
  • Trains our body to sleep

Bonus tip: Pray, your way.

Religion and spirituality are different!

What do do:

  • Check out apps like Calm®️ and Insight Timer®️ (variety of spiritual, not religious, based meditations from different content creators)
  • Find / follow a YouTube or Podcast prayer channel (I follow Daily Effective Prayer on YT)
  • Consider an anxiety app (Look up Dr. Judson Brewer)

How it works:

  • Connection to a Higher Power provides relief
  • Surrender is ultimately calming

Now that we’ve gone over some of the ongoing ways I use for how to handle anxiety attacks effectively, let’s look at long term measures.

Long Term Relief

This suggestion is only for the brave!

Most people won’t use this tip unless / until they’ve been “broken” by some major life trauma, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not up for this!

What to do:

  • Volunteer with the Hospice Society

How it works:

  • Fear of death disappears
  • Compassion increases
  • Values change
  • Life becomes more meaningful and beautiful no matter what happens

Now, while I haven’t volunteered at a Hospice Society, I did build and operate a small extended and palliative care home for seniors.

And I recently helped care for three family members at home in palliative care for the last few months of their lives, including my little mom.

It was the most heart wrenching yet meaningful thing I’ve ever done.

If you try some of these suggestions on how to handle anxiety attacks effectively, you’ll learn to trust yourself to handle stress better!

Remember that uncertainty is worse than a known but undesirable certainty, and life is full of uncertainty.

Chronic worry is a mind habit. It feels familiar. Familiar = comfortable

A final tip on how to handle anxiety attacks effectively is to ask yourself what the payoff is for remaining in your comfort zone?

There will usually be an answer, albeit illogical, that you can then choose to keep or let go of.

If you want to work through what’s keeping you stuck, invest in yourself with my WakeUP2Luv program.

You got this.

If you think this information will help others, please share it.

xo AJ

The P.S.es

p.s. If you received this via my mailing list and you’d like to reply, please leave a public comment below the video where I may see it. (Not via email.) Thank you!

p.p.s. I have not had an anxiety attacks since last summer. Fingers and eyes crossed I keep this steady path.

p.p.p.s. I got my mouth apparatus for sleep today! I hope it works!

About the Author Anna Jorgensen

Vancouver dating coach for men who love women! ❤️ (Not PC and not a feminist.)

Leave a Comment:

4 comments
Greg Bacon says March 31, 2020

I agree with your diagnoses Doc. I had anxiety attacks for years. When i started meditation, thinking about solutions, yoga and walking it helped immensely! Now I haven’t had an attack for a year. I dealt with my wife passing and still no attacks but I work at it constantly. Good advise!

Reply
    Anna Jorgensen says April 1, 2020

    Thank you and glad to read that your diligence is helping keep panic attacks at bay!! 🙂 AJ

    Reply
Daniel says April 5, 2020

Need your help

Reply
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