You feel the familiar anxious sensation creeping in on you. You don’t know what causes it, but you need to calm down–and fast!
First of all, know this–you are not alone.
Anxiety is a common problem in today’s world, and the number of people affected seems to be growing.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, more than 3.9 percent of the population is affected by this common mental illness. To calm down and get anxiety under control takes effective coping skills.
How many times has your doctor told you to calm down and get rid of stress, and the anxiety would decrease? It’s not always as easy as alleviating your daily pressures as stress is an inevitable part of life. Thankfully, more research has gone into this common ailment, and groundbreaking findings are helping people cope.
Many folks know they feel horrible and have sensations where they want to jump out of their skin, but they don’t know what’s going on inside their body. When you feel anxious, it’s due to an increase in the stress hormones in the body. Your body was made with a fight or flight mode that helps protect you from danger.
Assume you’re walking down the street, and you feel someone come up behind you. Sensing danger, your body will increase the stress hormones to allow you to get out of the situation quickly. Adrenaline and cortisol give the body the ability to do and react in ways that are not typical.
Have you ever heard of someone having superpowers for a minute and lifting a car off a mechanic that fell off a jack? According to Threadgill Science, a situation like this occurred in 2006. Kyle Holtrust was an 18-year-old kid excited about his new sport’s car. He was underneath a Chevrolet Camaro working to enhance his car when the jack slipped.
Tim Boyle was the neighbor in the Tucson, Arizona housing development. He saw the incident and ran to help. He lifted the 3,500-pound car from the teenager and pulled him to safety.
How is it even possible for a single man to lift a car off a teen and get him out from the underside? This is not the only case that this source referenced. Another case of hysterical strength was cited that occurred in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and this time it involved a woman.
Tony Cavallo was working on a 1964 Chevrolet Impala. When the jacks failed underneath this vehicle, his mother, Angela, ran to his side. She used uncanny strength to lift the car enough to allow the onlookers to get her son to safety.
Under normal circumstances, these two individuals would never be able to lift vehicles to free these people. However, when their body’s fight or flight system engaged with a rush of adrenaline, they had hysterical strength enough to save a life.
The same rush of hormones that gave these individuals this power can also cripple you if no threat is present. The body kicks into overdrive without cause, and a heightened state of these hormones can cause you all kinds of issues. When your cortisol and adrenaline levels are too high for too long, anxiety appears.
Common Symptoms of Panic and Anxiety Attacks
If your anxiety gets to an explosive point, you will have a panic attack. Panic disorder and anxiety run hand-in-hand, and according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around three percent of the population suffer from this disorder.
Unlike anxiety, panic is where the body is at its breaking point. Tension builds to the point of panic. These attacks can last anywhere from 3-20 minutes, depending on the severity, and they come with a wide range of symptoms.
Panic can cause these symptoms:
- Chest pains
- Shortness of breath
- Choking sensations
- Feelings of impending doom
- Racing heartbeat and palpitations
- Muscle weakness
- Feeling like you’re going to pass out
- Distorted reality or derealization
- Feeling trapped and need to escape
Ways to Calm Down When Your Anxiety Strikes
Now that you understand anxiety, you must learn to calm yourself. You may not even know why you’re anxious, but your body’s hormones kick into overdrive. The key is to calm down your body enough to identify that there’s no danger, and you can do this in several ways.
First, you must tell yourself there is no threat. Second, you need to shock your system back into reality. There are ways to lower the hormone levels and calm yourself, but it takes time and skill to learn effective coping techniques. Here are five ways to calm down when you have anxiety.
1. Rhythmic Breathing
Hyperventilating during panic is common, but deep breathing will decrease the sensations. When you gain control of your breathing, it can lessen the uncomfortable feelings. As soon as you feel the tension from panic begin, start rhythmic breathing.
Start by taking in deep breaths to the count of five. Ensure that you allow yourself to feel the breaths coming into your body and flooding your spirit with fresh oxygen. Then, hold the breath for a few seconds, and release it to the count of five.
Many people hyperventilate because their breathing becomes erratic when faced with panic. So, by doing this method of rhythmic breathing, you’re calming yourself to a better state.
2. Use Self-Talk
The feelings of impending doom that come with anxiety can make you feel as if you’re dying. Using self-talk, you can remind yourself that you’re not dying. When panic begins, say the following things out loud:
- This is only a panic attack, and it will soon be over.
- I am not having a heart attack, and these feelings will soon subside.
- I just need to calm down and wait for these sensations to pass.
- I’m going to be okay.
When you use self-talk to remind yourself that you’re not going to pass out, you won’t die, and you will be fine, then you lessen the power the attack has on you.
3. Ground Yourself
Grounding exercises are great for people who lose touch with reality for a few seconds when their panic is at its worst. You need to find your center again, and you can do this by examining your surroundings.
Remember the number four, as you want to indicate four of your senses to ground yourself.
Pay attention to things like these signs:
– Indicate where you’re at and what you can see.
– Notice the things you can hear, such as a television playing.
– Are there any smells in the atmosphere like candles burning or dinner in the oven?
– Are there any objects you can touch with your hands, such as a blanket or other soft items?
– Some people find it beneficial to take their socks and shoes off and feel the earth between their feet. Just going outside and getting some fresh air may be enough to stop the attack.
4. Use Lavender
Though many essential oils can help you with panic, lavender is one of the best. Just inhaling the fumes of this sweet fragrance can help to relax you. Many people keep this essential oil on their wrists as they go through the day.
When you feel an attack coming on, you can get out your lavender and use it to help put you in a better space. Other scents used in panic include vetiver oil, rose, Ylang-ylang, bergamot, and chamomile. Aromatherapy is a strong defense against anxiety.
5. Dunk Your Head in Cold Water
This may seem like one of the most radical treatments of all, but it works. When you start feeling the need to run, and your heart is racing, grab a bowl of water and put some ice inside. As soon as your face encounters that icy water, it will stop your attack.
Why does this happen?
Your body is unable to feel two sensations at once. So, when your head is in the water, the cold sensations are enough to decrease your heart rate and shock you back into reality. Many people notice relief the minute they bring their head back out of the water, some the moment it goes into the icy bath.
Sadly, this is not a technique that you can do anywhere but at home. So, you won’t be able to use it for driving anxiety or events that happen at work. However, some people even report keeping a cup of ice with them when they drive.
When they begin to feel anxious, they simply rub an ice cube on their wrists or the back of their neck. While it seems like a bit of a drastic therapy method, you will do anything to stop the clutches of panic once it takes hold.
Though anxiety makes you feel like an island all to yourself, it’s a pretty common problem. By learning practical coping skills, you can stop an attack when it starts and, over time, lessen the amount of these incidents you experience.
Keep in mind that not every coping skill will work for you. You will need to try different things until you find the ones that keep you grounded to calm down. The good news is panic doesn’t last forever, and soon the attack will be over.