“I can tell when it starts. My body begins to tingle as if ice is running through my veins. I start getting dizzy. My heart begins to race, my breathing becomes shallow…”
“The first sign is when my vision becomes blurry. I can’t see straight any more. Then it feels like I’m being squeezed into a box, the walls are closing in on me…”
“My face gets this feeling of pins and needles. That’s when I know it’s happening…”
It usually shows up by surprise – anxiety.
Wave after wave of adrenaline is rushing through your body. Your heart begins to pound harder. You start sweating. Different parts of your body might feel numb, others tingle. Dizziness or confusion sets in. You want to take off and run, but your knees are weak and your feet are heavy. You can’t move; want to scream; want to cry and feel completely out of control.
Don’t let it get this far!
There are things you can do to stay in control the moment anxiety shows up.
Tips to Control Anxiety Quickly
Take a few deep breaths – Control your breathing from the diaphragm. Slowly inhale to the count of 4, hold your breath to a count of 4, and then exhale to the count of 4. Repeat several times.
Accept that you feel anxious – Okay, you’re anxious. So what? It’s just a feeling, an emotional reaction like any other. You can tolerate it!
Understand your brain is tricking you – You’re okay. It’s just anxiety, and it’ll pass. Knowing that your brain is deceiving you will help to remove the guilt, pressure, and shame of judging yourself or thinking you have to fix yourself.
Observe your feelings – View them with compassion, not with judgment. State each emotion you’re feeling aloud to yourself.
Challenge your thinking – Remembering specific questions to ask yourself in the midst of anxiety can be hard. Consider writing the following 5 questions on an index card and carrying it with you: “Is there really a good reason why I’m thinking something’s wrong? What evidence is there? Is it possible that I’m blowing this out of proportion? What’s the worst that could possibly happen? How would I cope if it truly happened?”
Employ positive self-talk – Thinking or saying positive things might not work miracles, but it can help you be more balanced when anxiety causes your thinking to become askew and you’re just not able to see the big picture.
Apply calming visualizations – For example, imagine, as you’re watching clouds pass by in the sky, that you’re assigning each one your emotions and thoughts, and then you simply let them float off.
Gently distract yourself – Instead of focusing on your anxiety, find something you’d rather pay attention to, or talk to someone you like and trust, including via telephone.
Make yourself laugh out loud – Try watching a funny video clip, read a cartoon, or listen to a joke. Anything to make you laugh.
Take actions – Do something you’ve been putting off and then physically scratch it off your “to-do” list. Or perhaps put something back into place that was out of place, or throw something away that needed to be discarded.
Wear yourself out – Try doing a quick aerobic exercise, like a light jog or fast walk. Or pace around the room. Just keep moving! Wearing off the adrenaline and exhausting yourself will help relax you faster.
Do something that relaxes you – Figure out what it is that helps you relax – a hot bath or shower, massaging your hands or feet, listening to soothing music, hugging someone, or maybe taking a walk to observe nature – and do it the moment you feel anxious. Don’t wait!