“Every Anxious Moment Is An opportunity To Practice A New Response.”
Listed below are things to remember when your anxiety goes into overdrive:
- Acknowledge the anxiety: You should acknowledge the current reality that you are anxious and that it is going into overdrive. Do not ignore it.
- Accept the anxiety: Accept the fact that you are anxious. Do not fight or resist the feeling of anxiousness and accept the symptoms of anxiety going into overdrive.
- Wait: Instead of randomly doing things to alleviate anxiety, wait for some time. Waiting for a bit allows you the time to think straight, concentrate, remember past episodes, and choose a justifiable action or response to the situation.
- Watch: While waiting, watch for all the symptoms that occur during the period when anxiety goes into overdrive. You may also watch the response of your body and mind to the situation. If possible, note down your observations in a diary for future reference.
- If anxiety attack occurs when you are working, driving a car, etc., then keep working while simultaneously following the above steps at a slower pace, till you are able to gather yourself and find a suitable response.
Anxiety cannot be stopped at will; it will eventually subside, but there is no time frame as to when that will happen. Also, there is not much that you can do to stop an anxiety attack or stop it from going into overdrive. You can however take steps to make this period of anxiousness less discomforting.
- Breathe deeply to commence the relaxation process: Breathing tends to quicken during an anxiety attack; this is because of the fear or flight response of the body which occurs during anxiety attacks. Hence, regaining control of your breathing is the first and most important step to start the process of relaxation and alleviation of anxiety.
- Deep breathing facilitates additional flow of oxygen to the brain and across the body, which helps bring relief from the symptoms. Deep breathing is marked by an ‘out-breath’ that is longer than the ‘in-breath.’ In other words, you may count to 11 when breathing out and count to 7 when breathing in. You may also visit a therapist and learn breathing techniques, belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing.
- Start thinking to interrupt anxiety: The logical section of the brain gets employed and begins working harder than rest of the brain when thinking. This can help calm down anxiousness and associated heightened emotions. It may not be possible to immediately start thinking other things, but it can be kick-started by known activities like backward recitation of the alphabets, etc. Doing so will trigger the thinking area of brain to begin working and pave the way for alleviation of anxiety.
- Talk to self for assurance: Silently talk to yourself about the anxiety and it going into overdrive and other aspects that you may observe. You may also remember past episodes of anxiety and give yourself assurance about the self-limiting nature of anxiety and how its causes are often irrational. Assuage self with assurances like ‘anxiety is not going to be the death of me’, ‘the attack is temporary,’ ‘everything will be alright in some time,’ and ‘things could be way worse,’ etc.
When anxious thinking begins to take over your life, remember the first quote in this powerful article. It will gove you the proper mindset to take on your challenges and doubts.
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