Anxiety: What to do before, during & after an anxiety attack
All of us have experienced anxiety in some form or another, whether it's about being late to work, not making a deadline, being sick, etc. it's part of human nature. But when we experience a more frequent & heightened sense of anxiety, we may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
What is an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety disorders (OCD, panic disorder, separation anxiety, social anxiety disorder & specific phobias) are intense feelings of fear & anxiety for an extended period of time, which is often considered an attack. They can last several minutes or weeks & cause intense physical symptoms such as increased heart rate & blood pressure, chest pain, shaking, sweating, numbness, trouble sleeping &/or concentrating, etc.
What can I do to help prevent an anxiety attack?
While there isn't a way to completely prevent an anxiety/panic attack from happening, there are things you can do daily to boost your mental health & help prevent them.
Foods that are rich in magnesium, Omega-3 fatty acids & vitamin E are proven to help prevent feelings of anxiety, as well as benefiting your overall mental health.
- Foods that contain magnesium are dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocado, black beans, spinach & quinoa.
- Foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseed, chia seeds, peanut butter, brussels sprouts, kale, spinach & cauliflower.
- Foods that contain vitamin E are almonds, sunflower oil, mango, avocado, hazelnuts, red peppers & asparagus.
Our bodies are highly dependent on water because it's about 70% of what our body consists of. Dehydration can lead to significant stress on both on your body & minds, raising the risk of anxiety/panic attacks.
Get your body moving
Exercise is proven to help reduce stress, anxiety & depression. It releases endorphins in your brain which trigger positive feelings & emotions.
Most people think this means you have to do a long workout to see these effects, but a 10 minute walk around your neighborhood or a simple at home yoga class will begin improving your mood.
Daily journaling is something that helps boost your mental health. Whether you're writing about your goals, talking about what happened throughout the day or creating a gratitude list. Just writing down your feelings can help you understand your thoughts more clearly, which will help you overcome those feelings of stress, anxiety & depression.
What can I do during an anxiety attack?
It's important to know triggers & signs of what causes our anxiety so that we begin to understand how to calm our minds during them.
Use deep breathing techniques
Shut your eyes & pay close attention to the way you normally breathe for a few breaths.
Slowly count 1-2-3-4 as you inhale through your nose
Exhale with that same 1-2-3-4 count
As you in hale & exhale, be mindful of the feelings of fullness & emptiness in your lungs.
Anxiety can cause feelings of detachment & separation from reality, so mindfulness can help ground you back into the reality that's around you.
- recognizing the emotional state you're in
- focusing your attention to the present
- meditating to reduce stress & help with relaxation
The 3-3-3 Rule
This is a simple way to redirect your focus on something else, something smaller that's less overwhelming. You can start this by naming 3 things that you see around you, then 3 details about each of those things, then finish by moving 3 parts of your body.
Ask for help!
It really is okay to ask for help! whether it's a friend or a therapist, if you need to talk, do it! This is an important part of improving our mental health.
What can I do after an anxiety attack?
Self-care is one of the best ways you can recharge after having an anxiety attack. It eliminates negative feelings such as frustration, stress, anxiety & helps improve your overall mood.
Whether it's taking a bath, lighting a candle, eating your favorite meal, anything that you want to do, you should do!