Before The Anxiety Strikes

By: Ian Spencer

The preparatory phase will take you through a few steps that normally precede anxiety attacks. Some of these are preventive measures, while others are meant to equip you to cope with the anxiety attack if it develops to a full-blown form. As mentioned earlier, it is very critical to the success of these steps that you understand you would not get rid of anxiety until and unless you apply yourself fully to the reverse the symptoms and expel negativity from your mind and life.

Learn To Recognize The Warning Signals

When you are about to have an anxiety attack there would be little warning signals that would tell you it is coming. Most people tend to ignore these signs because they account it to their stressful lives or initial stages of a disease. You need to hone your mind to recognize the warning signals that precede your anxiety attack and when you do so, reiterate to yourself with full confidence that, “It is nothing more than an anxiety attack, which would pass in no time.”

Stop Negative Thinking

Anxiety attacks thrive on negative thoughts. You start with a tiny worry, which would gradually escalate out of proportion paving the way to a full-blown anxiety attack. When you consider the fact that this could feel as bad as a heart attack, you would agree that this is definitely something you should try to avert. When you realize that you are feeding yourself negative thoughts, stop. Will yourself to think positively. Put in all your efforts to change the negative thinking into positive thinking.

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Yoga and many forms of meditation would teach you how to breathe in and out with intense concentration. You would need to watch your abdomen raise and fall steadily while you focus entirely on your breath as it goes in and out. After some time, you would be aware of nothing else but a sweet nothingness in your head and the awareness of your breathing.  You will find that your body relaxes and the anxiety, which was threatening to strike, has long since disappeared.

Is There A Logical Justification Backing Up Your Worries

Look carefully at the things that are causing you to worry. Are your worries logically justified or are you blowing things out of proportion? It would be difficult for you to remove yourself from the present and look at the situation objectively, but with practice you would be able to separate instances where worry is justified and where it is not.

Reorganize Your Thoughts

Look at the worse possible scenario and ask yourself what you can do best to avert it. If there is any action that you could take, do so. If there is nothing you can do, will yourself to stop worrying and even thinking about whatever worries you. Tell yourself that you would cross the bridge when it comes. For all its worth, it often happens that the things you worry about most never happens. Why torture yourself in advance for something that might never happen? Why invite an anxiety attack for something imaginary?

Apply The Writing Therapy

The best would be to talk with someone about your feelings, not as a confessional but as a sounding board. When you are stressed, you might not like to talk, but you need to ventilate your thoughts to release the tension that has built within you. At such times, take out a paper and write down your thoughts – what bothers you the most? What you would want otherwise? How much you can help the situation if you apply yourself to it?  You would be surprised about the clarity you would get by just voicing your thoughts (speaking with someone) or penning them down. Often, when your worrisome thoughts are crammed in your mind, they seem much more terrible than when they are ‘taken out to light’. This is something like a cluttered table; at first it looks like there 10 thousand things on it and nothing makes sense, but once things are arranged and the desk is de-cluttered, tasks do not look scary and impossible to do anymore.

Establish A Safe Place For Yourself

You need to mentally allot a place in your home and/ or workplace where you declare it ‘safe’. This should be like a sanctuary where nothing bad or harmful can ever reach or touch you. This could a room, your bed, a large armchair, your garden, your coffee lounge, or even bathroom.  When you feel the anxiety rising within you, just rush to your safe place and let the feeling of security and safety wash over you. Imagine that you have reached a place where every bad thing would be turned away – like you would be under the direct protection of God Himself or Providence or whatever super power you believe in. This would give you time and scope to rest your mind and find relief from stress for a while, enough time to enable you change your negative thoughts into positive ones.

Make A List Of Your Pet Worries

Let your worries escalate a little and when you feel that they are about to take a good grip of you, take out a pen and paper and write them down one by one. Write exactly what you are afraid of in bullet points and allot each one a number. Once you have exhausted your sources of worry, take a long look at each one of the points you wrote and then crumple the paper and burn it. At that time, imagine that you have burnt away all your worries and they have left you forever. Repeat this exercise every time you feel an anxiety attack is about to strike, and gradually you would observe that the number of your worries and their intensity decrease.

Force Your Thoughts On To Realty

This works best when you are free of anxiety or any of its symptoms. Take a pen and paper and make a table with two columns. In one of the columns enumerate carefully all the worries that plagued you until date and in the other write ‘yes’ against the worries that came true and ‘no’ against those who never materialized. When you complete the list, the realty would be quite clear to you as you would be able to see it in black and white on your paper.  It would be heartening and so reassuring to see and realize that only a very tiny number of worries ever materialize. So, why worry at all?

This Too, Shall Pass

These four words represent a very deep truth of life. Everything in life is transient – both good and bad. We all feel that bad things are harder and emotionally more draining because they hurt, while the good things pass much too fast because they make us happy. The truth is that life is indeed ‘like a box of chocolates’. You need to keep in mind when you are happy as when you are sad that ‘this too shall pass’. They say, ‘You are never as good as they say when you succeed, nor as bad as they say when you fail.”  The secret to prevent anxiety attacks is often this simple. 

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