Jon Johnston

Use These Very Specific Steps To Stop Anxiety Attacks

locomotive train large

The following are specific steps I take when I feel myself getting anxious.

#1 — I close my eyes.

#2 — I focus on my breath.

My eyes remain closed. I focus on nothing but my breath. I breath in through my nose and out through my mouth. I pay attention to air flowing in through my nostrils and into my chest. Sometimes I place my hand on my belly to feel it expand; you need to breath with your belly to calm yourself, not your chest.

If I don’t feel like I’m taking control, I do one of two things:

2a — I change my routine to breathe in and out of my mouth. I pay attention to how the air is cold when it comes into my mouth and hot when it goes out.

2b — I continue to breath in through my nose and out of my mouth, but I begin to count my breaths. One count for each round trip from in my nose to out my mouth. I am calm by the time I reach ten.

#3 — I start thinking about the good things in my life.

My beautiful wife Heidi. My kids. Our dog, Esther. I remember the last thing that made me laugh; the last good joke I heard, maybe even the last good joke I told. I think about a place I’d like to visit or somewhere I’ve been and would like to go back again. Activities I love such as photography or fishing can help me remove myself from the moment.

The point of these steps are to take me out of the moment — to disrupt anxiety as it comes on. There are times anxiety approaches like a train barreling down the tracks on which you’re tied. The goal of these steps is to stop that train before it gets to you.

Obviously you shouldn’t close your eyes if you’re driving a car or operating heavy machinery, but you can practice this technique nearly anywhere else.

These steps likely won’t work the first five times you try them. They are like exercise; they have to be done repeatedly before you establish the procedure so you can see results.

I would love to have feedback on whether these steps work for you. Thank you.

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