Anxiety attacks can come on out of nowhere. They can be triggered by anything we encounter in day-to-day life; a smell, a song, a sound, a person’s voice.
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. My focus is on my breath. I breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. I pay attention to the 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 breathe 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 breathe in through my nose and out of my mouth, but I 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 think 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.
Disrupt Your Anxiety Attack
The point of these steps is 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.