How to Reduce Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Anxiety attacks are debilitating. If you live with anxiety or panic attacks, you may feel avoidant, suffer physical symptoms, and struggle with low confidence and self-esteem.
There’s no quick fix for anxiety, but there are steps you can take to prevent anxiety and panic attacks.
Seek help during stressful life events
Stressful life events like the death of a loved one, divorce, or job loss are a leading risk factor for anxiety and panic attacks. Veterans are also at high risk of developing anxiety and panic disorders due to the traumatic experiences of war. If you’re struggling, wellness coach Lynne Patzelt can help you create a vision of your best self, determine what obstacles are holding you back, and set achievable goals.
It’s also crucial to get support from friends and family. If you live a long distance from loved ones, you can still stay connected (and see their faces) through weekly Zoom calls. And if you’re looking to reconnect with old friends from school and can’t find them on social media, you can visit sites that allow you to search for alumni from your old high school. Staying connected with people can help you overcome and deal with traumatic experiences.
Eliminate chronic work stress
Stress also comes from everyday factors like job stress, relationship conflict, and financial problems. In fact, money and work rank as the top sources of stress for Generation X, Millennials, and Gen Zers.
Workers stay in jobs they’re unhappy with because they fear taking risks, but accumulating chronic job stress is a risk in itself. Rather than suffer the quality of life impacts of a bad job, pursue a career change. Career changes are more accessible than ever thanks to flexible online degrees that let you make an impact with a degree in education, enter the fast-growing field of healthcare, or boost your earning potential with a technology degree.
Learn to manage disability-related stress
Some stressors can’t be avoided entirely. That’s particularly true for those with cognitive, physical, and psychological disabilities. For these individuals, stress management is key. Coping strategies for disability-related stress include exercise, mindfulness practices like meditation, and supportive relationships and counseling.
Self-efficacy and self-esteem are critical to managing disability-related stress. When youth and adults with disabilities believe in themselves, they’re less likely to be overwhelmed by stress and anxiety.
Practice physical self-care
Mental and physical health are closely linked. Taking care of physical needs including getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and avoiding alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine can mitigate mental health symptoms and prevent panic attacks.
Don’t try to transform bad habits overnight. Incremental changes like going to bed 30 minutes earlier, cutting back on processed foods, and walking or biking instead of driving are more sustainable than dramatic lifestyle changes. Avoiding leaning on alcohol, smoking, or drugs for stress relief. While it might feel like these substances relieve stress in the moment, they increase anxiety and stress over time.
Stop anxiety in its tracks
Despite these strategies, there may be times that anxiety grows overwhelming. To prevent acute anxiety from turning into an anxiety or panic attack, use mindfulness techniques and breathing exercises to calm physical responses to anxiety and redirect your thoughts.
Treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) help identify the thoughts and behaviors that trigger panic attacks and develop new strategies to manage anxiety and panic. Some people find success with exposure therapy and/or EMDR therapy to treat panic attacks and acute anxiety.
The causes of anxiety and panic disorders are complex and multifaceted. They may occur following a traumatic life event or as a result of chronic stress. In some cases, they seem to happen out of the blue.
No matter the cause, relief from anxiety and panic is possible. Use these management strategies to address the source of your anxiety and develop coping strategies for a healthier, happier you.
About the Author: Karen Weeks is a Senior Lifestyle blogger. She struggled to find a new sense of purpose after retirement which made way to learn a new skill and took a computer course. She then created ElderWellness.net as a resource for seniors who wish to keep their minds, bodies and spirits well.