Anxiety attacks can often be overwhelming. An anxiety attack is an intense period of fear and discomfort accompanied by physical and emotional symptoms. These can include a racing heart, shortness of breath, trembling, and a sense of impending doom. While anxiety attacks can be quite uncomfortable, developing effective coping mechanisms can help manage their impact. One of the ways to manage anxiety attacks is to practice effective self-talk and self-compassion. Here are a few ways in which you can help yourself during an anxiety attack
Acknowledge and Accept
The first step in talking yourself out of an anxiety attack is to acknowledge its presence. Many times, people try to stop their anxious thoughts or try hard to not feel anxious, which can only make these thoughts and feelings worse. Instead, practice looking at anxious thoughts without judgement. Accept that you are experiencing anxiety and that it is a manageable condition. Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel anxious and that your feelings are valid
Anxiety in any form not only affects the mind but also the body. So the second and most important step in managing an anxiety attack is to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety. One way to manage physical symptoms is through breathing exercises. Practice deep breathing exercises to calm the nervous system. Inhale slowly through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds, and exhale gently through your mouth. Deep breathing can help the body feel calmer by increasing the oxygen supply. Once the body is calm, it will be easier to actively work on challenging anxious thoughts as well.
Challenge Negative Self-Talk
Anxiety attacks can often be a result of negative thought patterns or harsh self-talk. Therefore, noticing how you are currently talking to yourself is critical. If you find yourself indulging in negative thoughts, try to challenge them by questioning their validity. Ask yourself if there is evidence supporting these thoughts or if they are based on assumptions and fears. Then, mindfully replace these negative thoughts with more balanced perspectives.
Grounding exercises help bring your mind back to the present moment. Focus on your senses by identifying and describing what you see in your environment. Try to engage all your senses as much as possible. You can also try grounding yourself by mentally counting backwards, smelling something pleasant, or remembering a positive memory from the recent past. Remember, the goal is to disengage from the cycle of anxious thoughts by being in the present.
Affirmations are positive statements that you can repeat to encourage yourself during stressful or difficult situations. You can develop your own set of affirmations and have them saved on your phone so that they are accessible to you at all times. Mindfully repeat these affirmations during an anxiety attack to shift your mindset and build a more positive internal dialogue. A few examples of affirmations are:
- I am safe
- This will pass soon
- I have overcome anxiety before, and I can handle this
Talking yourself out of an anxiety attack is a skill that takes time to develop. The key, however, is to keep practising and encouraging yourself. Remember that talking yourself out of anxiety also requires self-compassion and acceptance of feelings without judgment, so try being compassionate and non-judgmental to yourself as much as possible.
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