For someone with panic disorder, who has frequent anxiety attacks; life can simply seem overwhelming at times. Even individuals who have been to the doctor and are taking medication, or who are receiving counseling can continue to experience frequent anxiety attacks. The goal for many people, of course, is to stop having anxiety attacks, or at least reduce the frequency and severity of them. It is possible to reduce your anxiety attacks to a point where you feel as though your life is manageable.
The very first thing you must do is make a commitment to exercising on a regular basis. Studies show that exercise reduces stress, and causes the release of endorphins in the brain. You do not want to overdo it at first, because putting additional stress on your body will defeat the purpose. You do, however, want to exercise daily. Anxiety doesn’t care if you exercised yesterday. It wants to be released from your body today. Exercising early in the day can make the rest of the day a whole lot better.
Do not ingest caffeine, in any form. This means no caffeinated coffee, tea or cola, and no chocolate. If you must partake in having something caffeinated, limit your indulgence. Caffeine causes some of the same symptoms of an anxiety attack, and can bring them on in some people. For others, it simply escalates their level of anxiety, making an attack more likely later in the day.
Do not eat sugar or large amounts of refined carbohydrates. Sugar is a stimulant, which your body does not need, and refined carbohydrates cause your blood sugar to fluctuate, which can bring on feelings of anxiety and increase your susceptibility to an attack.
Take your vitamins. There is a combination of studies and antidotal evidence that shows that vitamin C can reduce the effect of stress on your body, that the B vitamins help to keep nerves healthy, and that magnesium is good for your heart. Many individuals claim that magnesium, in particular, reduces heart palpations.
Try Omega 3s. Lately, study after study has shown the efficacy of Omega 3 fish oil in treating depression. According to one study, fish oil supplements and exercise combined were shown to be as effective as an antidepressant in treating depression. In another, the supplements were shown to be effective even without the exercise. They have also been proven to increase cardiovascular health. Since depression and anxiety often go hand in hand, it is a good idea to supplement your diet with Omega 3s.
Do something engaging with your mind. Nothing is worse for anxiety than sitting around talking about it or worrying about it. Make sure that your day is filled with engaging activities. Hands-on activities are especially good for reducing anxiety, especially when it is severe.
Change your self-talk. What this means for anxiety is that you need to be telling yourself, preferably out loud, that you feel great, and are a strong person. Do not go around complaining about how bad you feel. If you say this, you are telling your brain that yes indeed, you do feel badly. This is an invitation for anxiety to take hold.
Expose yourself to the things that you have been avoiding. While this may cause an increase in anxiety attacks initially, eventually, you will become accustomed to the things that you used to perceive as threatening and the attacks will decrease, or perhaps even go away entirely in those situations.
Don’t worry about your anxiety disorder. This is a circular situation that can set you up for increasing the severity of your problem. Accept that you have anxiety and let it go. Don’t fight it. Anxiety loves to fight. When you feel anxiety symptoms, accept them and move on.
By using a holistic approach, you should be able to reduce the frequency and severity of your anxiety attacks. If you are seeing a therapist, access whether or not your attacks have decreased since beginning to see that person. The generally accepted wisdom is that cognitive behavioral therapy is best for treating this sort of disorder. It is a good idea to make sure that any practitioner who is treating you is familiar with anxiety disorder. While it is not a good idea to try to handle it all by yourself, you want to make sure that you are in experienced hands.
A panic/anxiety attack occurs when your body is extremely stressed and can no longer manage the stress. Your heart races, you start hyperventilating, your vision dims, you get dizzy. At the first sign of panic/anxiety, the key is to relax.
Here are the techniques that work:
Deep Breathing: Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take a deep breath in and make the hand on your stomach move and the hand on your chest remain still. Takes a bit of practice, but with practice it gets easier. Take a deep breath in and hold it for a count of three. Then breathe it out through your mouth and count to five before taking the next deep breath. This prevents you from hyperventilating during an attack. You need to practice this breathing daily for at least ten minutes so that it becomes an automatic response. Eventually, it comes secondary in nature.
Muscle relaxation: Starting with your toes, tighten the muscles for thirty seconds to one minute until they start to ache. Then completely relax the muscle group letting it go limp like spaghetti and repeat the process until you know how to relax the muscle. Repeat this with all the muscle groups- fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, legs. Practice this relaxation daily. When a panic attack hits, you mentally check to see which muscles you have tensed up and then relax them.
Basic/Beginner Yoga: Yoga is a great form of breathing and relaxation. Through the technique you will learn to correctly breathe and get much needed exercise at the same time. Buy a beginner yoga video or enroll in a Yoga class. Practice it daily.
Music: Take some time out every day and listen to relaxing music.
Exercise: Exercise is the key to beating stress. Take 30 minutes a day and go for a walk outside. The fresh air and exercise are not only good for fighting panic attacks; they are good for your health as well.