Anxiety Attack Prevent & Stop? 8 Simple Tips

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Fear of failure

‘Fear strikes my heart’ is a frequently used expression when one is panicking.

If you have regular anxiety attacks, then you probably know that this is a perfect description of how you feel at that moment. It’s as if the fear is literally settling in your heart.

During an anxiety attack you experience very intense emotions and an anxiety attack can also be very exhausting physically.

Many people do not know what to do in case of an anxiety attack or how to stop an anxiety attack. However, this is quite possible!

Stop Anxiety Attack? Learn practical tips and advice on what to do if you’re struggling with anxiety attacks here.

Purpose of this blog: first of all, I will go a little deeper into what an anxiety attack really feels like and what symptoms you can experience. Most attention is paid to what you can do in case of an anxiety attack and how you can stop it with the help of my tips.

What is an anxiety attack?

An anxiety attack is a very intense attack of an overpowering fear where you can lose the ability to think and act rationally altogether.

Such an anxiety attack can happen to you suddenly, but the fear can also be dormant and lead to an anxiety attack at a certain moment.

Perhaps the following examples can help you understand this a bit better:

“The company where your son works calls you to say that he has had a work accident and has been taken to hospital. You immediately think the worst and an all-consuming panic overtakes you. Your legs start to tremble, you break out in a sweat and you short of breath.”

This is a perfect example of a sudden anxiety attack.

If you suffer from a phobia, your fear of something or of certain situations is so extreme that it can trigger an anxiety attack.

In fact, this fear is always present with you and just the thought of confronting what you are afraid of can trigger an anxiety attack.

Suppose you have a frantic fear of elevators and you have a meeting on the thirteenth floor of an office building. The thought of taking the elevator can give you such extreme anxiety that you panic completely. You get palpitations, start to sweat and it goes completely black before your eyes.

Everyone goes through anxious moments in life. Yet there is a very big difference between just being afraid of something and having an anxiety attack.


What does an anxiety attack feel like?

In a very intense anxiety attack you experience such extreme fear that you get the feeling that you lose all grip and that the ground disappears under your feet.

An anxiety attack can cause both psychological and physical symptoms and have psychological consequences.

One of the typical characteristics of someone who has ever experienced an anxiety attack is that one is so afraid of having to endure it again that this very fear triggers another anxiety attack.

Fortunately, not all anxiety attacks are equally intense. During an anxiety attack, you can experience very overwhelming symptoms, but they can just as well be milder.


Symptoms of an anxiety attack

The defense mechanism of the body dates back to prehistoric times.

Living conditions were much tougher then and people had to rely on the body’s reactions and intuition to survive.

In an anxiety attack, it is precisely that defense mechanism that is activated.

When there is danger, the production of hormones makes you much more alert and this is reflected in the typical symptoms that you experience during an anxiety attack.

Below are the main characteristics of an anxiety attack so that you can take action if you experience this expression of intense fear.


#1: Excessive Sweating

One of the first symptoms of an anxiety attack is often excessive sweating. When the fear sets in, it’s like you’re literally breaking out in a sweat.


#2: Palpitations or accelerated heartbeat

Ever heard of the sympathetic nervous system?

This nervous system ensures that organs can work and that the body can hold its own in dangerous situations.

By activating this nervous system, adrenaline is produced and this causes an accelerated heart rate and increased blood pressure.


#3: Accelerated Breathing

Ever had accelerated breathing? Shortness of breath, gasping for breath or hyperventilating?

Under the influence of adrenaline, breathing is also accelerated. If your breathing speeds up, you often start to breathe incorrectly, which makes you feel short of breath and you can even hyperventilate.


#4: Pressure in the chest

The cause of a feeling of pressure in the chest can be an accelerated heart rate, but breathing faster or incorrectly can also give you this feeling.


#5: Trembling limbs

Vibration is a natural response of the body to discharge excess energy.

During an anxiety attack, the body receives such a great energy surge that the body discharges itself via this vibration.


#6: Nausea or Diarrhea

Some people experience nausea, stomach and/or abdominal pain or even sudden diarrhea during an anxiety attack.


#7: Dizziness – light-headedness – fainting

Because your body needs all the energy to physically cope with the approaching ‘danger’, less oxygen goes to other parts of the body.

As a result, you can experience a light-headed feeling, become very dizzy or even faint.


#8: Losing self-control – feeling crazy

Sometimes an anxiety attack can take such an extreme form that you feel like you are losing control or going crazy.

You may then have difficulty thinking or acting rationally.


#9: Fear of dying

Especially due to the combination of different symptoms, you can get the feeling that you are really going to die during an anxiety attack.

Anxiety attacks can define your whole life. Some people have not led a normal life for years because of this.

However, it doesn’t have to get that far because you can easily avoid or prevent anxiety attacks yourself.


What to do in case of an anxiety attack? 8 tips

An anxiety attack can hit you at any time of the day and be very intense. My 8 tips can help you to prevent or stop an anxiety attack.

Tip 1: try to breathe deeply and calmly

During an anxiety attack you have the feeling that the fear literally takes your breath away. The first reaction is gasping for air.

This makes you breathe faster and deeper, which can cause hyperventilation.

The Dutch Hyperventilation Foundation describes very clearly what exactly happens to your body during an attack of hyperventilation.

Hyperventilation causes other symptoms such as dizziness, sweating and the fear of fainting to increase.

To prevent an anxiety attack, it is very important that you breathe correctly.

If you feel an anxiety attack coming on, try to control your breathing by taking deep, calm, abdominal breaths.

By the way, breathing from the abdomen is the most natural way to breathe.


Tip 2: Try to realize that you are only having an anxiety attack

An intense anxiety attack can feel as if you are really dying: you feel short of breath, your heart starts beating faster, you get pain in the heart area and you lose all sense of reality. These symptoms can make you feel like something is physically wrong.

In his book ‘Physiologie des passions’ published in 1878, the French anthropologist Charles Jean-Marie Letourneau described all the symptoms that anxiety can provoke.

 

If you feel an anxiety attack coming on, try to realize very consciously that this is no more than an anxiety attack.

And that the physical complaints you experience are the result of the anxiety attack and have no serious physical cause at all.

Once you realize this, an emerging feeling of anxiety can subside quite quickly.


Tip 3: close your eyes and sit quietly

Anxiety attacks usually arise in certain situations where a lot of stimuli come at you.

If you experience these stimuli as threatening, then shut yourself off for a while from the situation you are in at that moment. You can easily do this by sitting down somewhere quiet and closing your eyes.

Although the stimuli remain present, they will no longer provoke fear in you, so that you can keep your anxiety attack under control and even prevent it completely.


Tip 4: find a focus object

In an anxiety attack, the thoughts of possible symptoms just encourage an attack.

Imagine having a frantic fear of feeling so bad at a party that you have to throw up in public. Such a fear of suddenly having to vomit is called emetophobia.

You are having a nice cocktail with friends and suddenly the thought comes to you that this wine might cause you to vomit. You break out in a sweat, your hands begin to tremble and you feel your stomach churning.

Then realize that this one cocktail really won’t make you throw up and find something else to focus on: the nice music, the exciting stories of your friends, the handsome bartender, etc.

By focusing on this, your thoughts will shift and leave no room to think about an anxiety attack.


Tip 5: apply mindfulness techniques

Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn , founder of the  Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Health Center, defines mindfulness as  “consciously paying attention to the moment, without judging it .  ”

In the 1970s, he developed his own method – the  Mindfulness Bases Stress Reduction (MBSR)  – to help people who suffer from stress, pain and anxiety in an effective way.

Research has shown that the  MBSR method is indeed effective in preventing anxiety disorders.

When you practice mindfulness techniques, you learn that negative thoughts are transient. The more you realize that fear is mainly in your head, the easier it will be to deal with anxiety attacks.


Tip 6: Realize that your anxiety attack is purely a biological phenomenon

Fear sharpens your senses.

It is a defense mechanism of the body to protect it from possible dangers.

This defense mechanism has been present in the body since prehistoric times and that’s a good thing. If prehistoric man had not known fear, mankind would probably have died out thousands of years ago.

Prehistoric man was confronted with many dangers: wild animals, extreme weather conditions, tribes attacking each other, etc…

Just imagine that a primeval man is sleeping peacefully in his cave, is awakened by a loud growl and suddenly comes face to face with a huge bear.

Had he not known fear, the body’s defense mechanism would not have been activated and the mammoth would no doubt have attacked him.

However, the defense mechanism of the body allowed the prehistoric man to cope with this situation perfectly: his heartbeat accelerated, the blood was pumped to his muscles and he breathed faster.

Due to the power that was released, the primeval man could flee or attack and thus save his life.

In an anxiety attack, it is precisely this defense mechanism that is activated, protecting the body against possible danger.

However, what you consider to be a real danger during an anxiety attack is not at all dangerous. It is then mainly your thoughts that define certain situations or things as dangerous.

Yet the symptoms can be so extreme that you think you are actually in danger. If your heart suddenly starts beating faster, if your breathing speeds up and if your legs start to tremble, you may think the end is in sight.

However, if you consciously consider that this is a biological phenomenon , you can gain control over these symptoms and thus prevent an anxiety attack.


Tip 7: visualize yourself in a nice, comfortable and happy moment

If you feel an anxiety attack coming on, visualize yourself in a nice and comfortable moment that makes you happy.

Don’t think about the upcoming anxiety attack at all, but about a moment that makes you feel good.

Imagine yourself lying on an exotic beach with the sun’s rays warming your skin and the only sound is the crashing of the ocean waves.

Try to focus on details as much as possible: how the waves slowly reach the shoreline and how they disappear into the immense ocean, how you feel the sand between your toes and how the sun warms your skin.

Choose a moment that suits you perfectly and that gives you a feeling of peace. The exotic beach is of course just one example.

Perhaps you feel calmer in a large forest where rays of sun shine through the trees, where you inhale the smell of earth and moss and where the silence is only broken by your own breathing.

With such blissful thoughts you will undoubtedly be able to prevent an anxiety attack.

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