Practical Effective Tools for Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Anxiety is a normal human occurrence, but part of the challenge is to understand and accept that anxiety is normal, because we tend to panic about panic!

In this Blog I share many wonderful and effective tools and practices to feel less anxious, and to feel more peaceful and empowered. A trick and necesity is to actually put energy and consistent effort into practices. If we don’t, we remain the same. Our brain stays the same.

I recently read a quote from HEADSPACE which said, “It’s amazing to think how much time we spend looking after our physical health and how little we spend looking after the health of the mind.” I find this to be true for most people. I am one of those people who has put a whole lot of time and energy into feeling better. Journaling is one tool that has changed my life. I hope this helps motivate you to put your own special effort into healthy change!

So step one to reduce anxiety, and gain greater feelings of health and confidence, can be around an acceptance that you feel anxious. For example, “I accept that I am human and feelings help me to know I am alive!”

Reassure Yourself

  1. Your inner talk can become something like this, “It is just anxiety, it will pass, I am OK…”, “this gives me an opportunity to try these tools and also get to know myself better.” “Everyone feels anxious sometimes…”, etc. Take some time to make up your own reassuring message so you can be prepared when anxiety strikes next.

Write down a reassuring message for yourself here:

Distract Yourself

  1. Use Distraction to ground yourself. When we use simple distraction, it can quickly reduce the physical effects of panic.

Look at things around you, put your hand on your heart or any other place on your body, tap your fingers on the table or on your thigh, talk about something light, whistle or sing, put your hands on your belly and bounce your knees while you say “ha ha ha”, gently stomp your feet to get grounded, etc.

Choose a physical distraction technique you will try:

Use Your Breath to Calm

  1. Calm your body. There are many effective Breathing Techniques. These techniques tell your brain that “everything is ok” and you will start to feel better. It really works.

Box breathing: breathe in for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4, rest for 4. Repeat until calm.

Sniffs: Do 4 or 5 small sniffs in, and then breathe out deeply. Repeat this until calm.

Choose a breathing technique you will use, and write it down here:

What Was I Thinking?

  1. Over time we get to know how we create our anxiety. When we get in touch with the “stories” we have inside we can work to counteract them. Inner thoughts about ourselves and situations create anxiety; plain and simple.

What are you telling yourself that brings on the anxiety and fear? There is ALWAYS a thought underneath anxiety. If you cannot find it easily, by practising mindfulness and observing your thoughts each day, you will eventually find the scary, negative thoughts.

What were you thinking when you got anxious?:

What thought can help me feel better?

Once we find the thought, next we need to challenge that thought, and replace it with a thought that is more realistic, comforting, and maybe even empowering!

If that is difficult, try this: If your best friend had this same thought, what would you tell him/her?

Say this to yourself:

Daily Efforts Really Help

  1. Do some inner work each day to increase your self-love and level of deserving-ness. I think every human could benefit from daily efforts.

Get support from a Psychotherapist or Life Coach.

We have an abundance of resources at our fingertips, literally.

I will list a few here:

“Mind Over Mood” by Padesky & Greenberger is an excellent CBT book.

Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Your Life” guides us away from negative thinking in many areas of life, into empowering affirmative ways to think and speak to ourselves.

Listen to affirmations in the background each day, as you drive, cook, or relax in bed. Find positive affirmations online. See Louise Hay or Joe Vitale for help.

Try Tapping (also called EFT or Emotional freedom Technique). The Tapping Solution by Nick Ortner is a great resource. EFT combines healing your thoughts while you tap on your meridians.

Last but not least!

Install a relaxation app in your Smartphone so it is there when you need it. Then use it. There are many free apps, such as “Youper”,  “Mindshift”, ”Breathing Bubbles” or “Healthy Minds”. There are also apps you can pay for such as “Relaxation Lite” or “Breethe”.

Anxiety is a Friend We Need

In conclusion, I think it is helpful to re-image anxiety as “a Messenger” versus a bad thing, so instead of trying to push anxiety away, say “hello” to your anxiety, listen to the anxiety, and get curious about what it is trying to tell you. Over time you can learn to embrace the gift of anxiety. Use the tools above, and over time you will feel better about yourself, become your own friend, and eventually feel empowered, and more peaceful. It takes work to feel better, and we all get to choose the path and practices that speak to us.

Take good care,

Stacy Bremner, Citizen of the World