Don’t Stress: Preventing Anxiety Attacks Before They Take You Hostage by Sophie Letts
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Anxiety attacks are awful! They can make you feel hopeless and helpless. It’s estimated that 11% of Americans experience panic attacks. They’re overwhelming, sneaky, and downright scary.
This article will give you a variety of practical measures you can take to prevent prevent anxiety attacks, including spending more time in nature, grounding exercises, optimizing your home office space, writing, and listening to calming music. Read on to find out more.
Spend more time in nature
Being outdoors is a great way to (pardon the pun) ground you. One study found that people who spend more time outdoors, particularly those with an abundance of green life, were less stressed than those who tend to stay indoors. Your general stress level can have an important impact on your overall well-being, and thus your potential for anxiety attacks. You can even practice mindful meditation outdoors, focusing on the green trees, the blue sky, the birds chirping in the distance, and more. Even just 15 minutes in nature can lift your mood, so take a walk, go for a jog, or even go to the local playground and take the swings for a whirl.
Often, you can feel an anxiety attack preparing to overcome you, and you need a quick resolution to prevent it. Grounding exercises help you establish that although your body is telling you there’s danger, you’re actually safe. Start by closing your eyes and beginning deep breathing. This resource from the University of South Africa details the 5-4-3-2-1 method:
- Identify 5 things you see
- Identify 4 things you can touch
- Identify 3 things you hear
- Identify 2 things you smell
- Identify 1 thing you taste
There are all kinds of methods. The key is to remind yourself that your head is tricking you; you’re secure.
Optimize your workspace
Even when you enjoy your job, work tends to bring about stress. You must ensure that your workspace is stress-free and conducive to a productive work day. This eliminates the likelihood of anxiety attacks by keeping your work stress to a minimum. For a stress-free office space, start by checking your lighting. Poor lighting leads to eyestrain and fatigue, both of which contribute to stress. Add table and floor lamps as needed. Additionally, be sure you have a comfortable, ergonomically correct chair. You spend nearly all of your day seated there, and if it isn’t giving you the support you need, your mood will suffer on top of your back, neck, or legs. If you’re using a chair from another room (like the dining room), start shopping for an office-specific chair that offers ample lumbar and leg support.
According to Verywell Mind, “journaling can help reduce anxiety, lessen feelings of distress, and increase wellbeing.” Best of all, you can do this as part of your daily routine or when you feel a panic attack coming on; both habits will be helpful on their own and even more so when you do both. You can vent about what’s weighing on your mind, anxiety triggers, or your feelings in the moment. It can be a few words, a paragraph, or pages and pages of thoughts and feelings. Try writing an uplifting letter to yourself assuring that you’ll not only get through your anxiety, but you’ll thrive afterward.
Listen to calming music
“Calming” means different things to different people. For you, it might be listening to your favorite album, even if there are stimulating songs on it. The University of Nevada, Reno notes that Native American, Celtic, Indian-stringed instruments, drums, and flutes are excellent for relaxing the mind. Some also find comfort in listening to natural sounds like rain and thunder. In the end, it comes down to two questions: do you like the music, and does it actually relax you? This is a good practice for times you feel stressed in general and for moments you feel an anxiety attack coming on.
Anxiety attacks are awful. Though they make you feel hopeless, there are measures you can take to prevent them. Try spending more time in nature, grounding exercises, home office optimization, writing, and listening to calming music to battle anxiety attacks and find inner peace.
Sophie Letts has been practicing meditation for five years. Her practice has helped her in many ways, including improving her ability to focus and reducing feelings of anxiety. She created meditationhelp.net to help others get started with meditation, dispel meditation myths, and provide the resources others need to connect with their bodies, calm their minds, and embrace their true selves.