By Kimberly Zapata
If you struggle with anxiety you know just how tough it can be to manage your symptoms. One minute you are fine — you are talking, laughing, and just being yourself — and the next you are terrified. You are horrified. You are paralyzed. Your mind is racing. Your breath is heavy, and your both your throat and chest feel constricted.
You feel bound and constrained and believe — genuinely believe — this attack may kill you; you may die.
Of course, during these attacks many anxiety sufferers turn to medication, i.e. we take medication and “wait it out.” But what else can you do to manage your symptoms, especially “in the moment?” How can you stop an anxiety attack?
Nine members of our community share their favorite tips and tricks.
- “I try to remember that I’ve done this before — and have gotten through it before — and I can do it again. It’s not permanent. Also, for some reason, it helps me to turn on the blow dryer. The constant noise and heat instantly calms me down.” Lauren Lodder, Mommy Owl
- “I scrunch my toes in my shoes or use my Calm app.” Alison Tedford, Sparkly Shoes and Sweatdrops
- “I have a playlist on my phone and, when I am having an attack, I lay down, put my earbuds in, and listen with my eyes closed.” Mike Thornsbury
- “I do alphabetical category lists in my head, i.e. vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, cabbage…etc. If my anxiety is still elevated when I get ‘Z’ I pick a new category (colors, desserts, names) and start again.” Susanne Lewis Kerns, The Dusty Parachute
- “This is going to sound silly but I chew Big Red gum or suck on cinnamon candies. The burn refocuses my attention and gives me time to talk myself down from whatever ledge I’m hanging onto.” Julie Maida, Sober Mommies
- “I list five things I can see, four things I can hear, three things I can smell, two things I can feel, and one thing I can taste. It’s an exercise to refocus your senses, and it works. For me.” Lauri Walker, Mama Needs A Nap
- “I try to remind myself I can get through [the attack] by reciting quotes. In fact, one I really like is from the Taylor Swift song ‘Out of the Woods.’ It says: ‘the monsters turned out to be just trees.’” Mia Carella, (This) Mom With A Blog
- “The best thing? A pulse oximeter. When I feel anxious, I check my oxygen level and pulse. Knowing that my oxygen is good when I feel short of breath immediately helps. And if my pulse is up I know that is the reason and I need to just go lay down for a few.” Mike Thornsbury
- “If I can get up, I go on a brisk walk or run. The physical activity helps mask my symptoms and eventually my breath and heart rate balance out.” Kimberly Zapata, Sunshine Spoils Milk
And remember to breath. Just breath. Because this feeling will pass. This moment will pass, and you will come out on the other side.
Every time, you come out on the other side.