Suffering from anxiety can be a considerable burden for people to carry, and the fear that an anxiety attack can occur at any given moment can lead to a level of unease that can spiral out of control very quickly.
There are various approaches to prevent anxiety before it occurs. The following is a list is of a few widely accepted strategies for mitigation.
A key component of any anxiety-related issue is breathing, it is one of the best ways to control your emotions and prevent feelings of fear and angst.
You are likely to benefit from this approach if your disorder often leads to you feeling one or more of the following symptoms:
- Breathing very quickly because of nervousness.
- Attempting to yawn and take deeper breaths, or the feeling of an incomplete breath.
- Overthinking the way that you breathe and doing it awkwardly as a result.
These symptoms can lead to hyperventilation, which is estimated to account for over half of all panic attacks and can lead to your body taking in too much oxygen as a result of over breathing.
The CalmClinic lists 3 effective anxiety breathing techniques on their website, which can be summarised as follows:
- Co2 Rebreathing
Hyperventilating causes levels of carbon dioxide within the body to reduce, and it is necessary to stabilise these levels in order to feel better. An effective way to do this is to simply put a hand over your mouth, or a small paper bag, and breathe into it as normal so that you can prevent Co2 leaving your body and restore equilibrium.
- Deep Breathing for Relaxation
Another simple and effective method for controlling your breathing is relaxation deep breathing. This is the simple process of breathing in slowly for 5 seconds, holding for a few more seconds, and then exhaling slowly through the mouth (7 seconds is the recommended exhale time). After repeating the process 10 times it can leave one feeling very relaxed and can help to prevent anxiety attacks from occurring.
- Advanced Inhale-Hold-Exhale Deep Breathing
This method combines the two techniques listed above. To do this you need to monitor your heartbeat and breath according to the count of your heartbeats. For example, inhale and count for 5 beats, hold your breath for 7 beats, exhale for 9 beats. In this breathing technique you need to ensure that you inhale from your stomach first and then your chest; this slow method enables you to regain Co2 levels by holding your breath for a prolonged period of time.
A method that seems obvious but is often forgotten in the midst of an anxiety attack is to distract yourself. This is a great way to prevent anxiety as it can halt the overthinking that regularly accompanies panic.
This technique is as varied as the many ways you can think of to distract yourself. It can be as simple as counting sheep, to reading a book or playing a game. If you are feeling unable or unwilling to do anything that you already know, use this as an opportunity to learn a new hobby. This can be a great way to focus on something different and prevent anxiety.
Another method of diverting your attention elsewhere is to engage in strong sensory experiences, such as immersing yourself in ice water or tasting extremely strong flavours. This works well for the short-term relief of any impending feelings of angst.
Modern day lifestyles are often highly frenetic, and the fast pace of life can exacerbate many anxiety disorders. A few simple lifestyle changes can help to prevent anxiety from happening in the first place. Here are some widely accepted suggestions to change your lifestyle for the betterment of your mental health:
- Amend your diet to be healthier and ensure you are taking on the recommended quantity of vitamins and nutrients.
- Exercise regularly and get adequate rest.
- Practice visualisation and mediation techniques to enhance cognitive function and encourage relaxation.
- Improve your interpersonal skills by placing yourself in more social situations, even if they initially make you feel uncomfortable.
- Keep a journal to track your stress levels and moods. This can help identify what triggers these feelings and potentially make them easier to deal with.
- Talk to a friend or family member. Sometimes people bottle up their emotions without realising it and just need to let out their feelings to someone close to them.
Simply understanding the anatomy of anxiety can lead to its prevention. When you learn the basis of what anxiety is, what causes it, and how the body responds to it, you become guarded by a blanket of knowledge that leaves you feeling better equipped to deal with any impending feelings of dread and fear.
This will lead to you being less afraid to encounter it head on, using a coping mechanism that best suits you, and could eventually lead to the prevention and termination of any prolonged anxious feelings.