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5 Ways to Calm Anxiety and Reduce the Frequency of Panic Attacks

The fear of a recurring panic attack can be strong and induce more anxiety. See below five ways to help calm your anxiety and reduce the frequency of a recurring attack.

Unsplash/sean Kong

1. Notice where there is clutter in your life. At home, at work, your schedule, and your emails. Where can you clean out and let go of things? Clean out your closets, organize your desk, and most importantly, delete emails. I found this very soothing when I finally went through the 8,000 emails I had stored. They were sitting there all unread.  I had glanced over them, but I never deleted because it was always something I thought I might go back to later and open and read. It became overwhelming. So, I decided to select all and hit delete. Seeing the number go from 8,000+ to zero brought such relief Unsubscribe from emails you no longer read and delete if its been in your inbox for more than a week. Treat it like cleaning out your closet.  If you haven’t read the email, most likely you won’t and it just adds to the clutter and creates anxiety in the mind.  

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2. Go for a walk. In times of anxiety and panic, the tendency is to stay indoors. Curl up in bed or on the couch and try to will away the fear. It’s our natural tendency to protect ourselves in times of danger.. However, when your nervous system is on overdrive and there is no real danger, your instincts still kick in. You don’t want to move or leave the house. Curling up contracts and restricts the diaphragm which leads to shallow breathing. Shallow breathing stimulates your sympathetic nervous system, or fight or flight response. By standing upright and going for a walk, you create more space in your diaphragm to properly breathe. Walking gets you fresh air and movement which helps to move the anxious energy and allow it to dissipate. For quicker relief, take a walk in nature, with bare feet.  If you live in a city, go to a park, or a place with some grass and feel the earth with your toes. You’ll notice your breathing becomes deeper, smoother and longer, thus stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, or rest and digest.

Unsplash/Kate Stone Matheson

3. A regular bed-time routine. Panic attacks tend to escalate and come on more frequently when you’re not sleeping well. Setting a regular bed time routine and getting to bed at a reasonable hour is probably the best thing you can do to help relieve anxiety and prevent panic attack.  Set a reminder on your phone and commit to getting ready for bed at the same time every night. Diffuse some soothing essential oils, such as lavender, bergamot or jasmine. Create an inviting space in your bedroom so that you can relax and fall asleep. Stay off electronics. Instead, read a physical book, or listen to a soothing mediation. Staying consistent with whatever bedtime ritual you create is crucial to calming your nervous system.

4. Say No. Panic attacks can occur when you’re overcommitted and not giving yourself enough down time or self-care. In our busy society and with the aid of technology, the tendency is to always be on the go, doing multiple things at one time, and pushing to do more and achieve more. Take a look at your calendar and see where you are overcommitting. Do you have more than one thing planned throughout your day? Are you cramming too much into your day and on your weekends? Go through and eliminate things that can absolutely go. Then go back through and eliminate things that are causing you stress or potentially cause stress. This is tough. The fear of disappointing others and/or backing out of prior commitments is hard, but your wellbeing is the most important thing. Explaining that you need the time and space to take care of yourself will encourage others to do the same. Most people will be very supportive and understanding. If they’re not, reevaluate whether you need them in your life.  Once you’ve cleared up your calendar, resist the urge to add more in now that you have free time. This is tough also.  But in order to take care of yourself and feel more peace and calm, you need space and time to just be.

Unsplash/Christin Hume

5. Make time for Self-Care. Get a massage. Go for a walk. Get to a yoga class. Take a bath. Meditate. Color. Read a book that’s been sitting on your shelf. Do something for you and let go of the guilt that may creep up. This is so important and vital in maintaining your mental wellbeing. Stop saying you don’t have time. If you followed #4, you just cleared up some time for you. Commit to you. You are worth it, and your inner Self will thank you for it.

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