Written by Harry Cline of newcaregiver.org

Anxiety is on the rise, with anxiety disorders now being the most common mental health problem in the United States. Although many people struggle with generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks and panic disorder are two issues that can be scary and confusing to deal with. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to help manage your anxiety and prevent the spiral that often leads to full-blown panic attacks. Here are six great tips to prevent them.

1. Meditate

If you have read much about mental health, you will notice that meditation comes up as a top recommendation again and again. There’s a good reason for this, as this calming practice has been shown to make the part of the brain that creates anxiety and fear responses smaller. Thankfully, you don’t need anything to start meditating. A mantra meditation is a great way to start as a beginner.

2. Lean on Support

Having a great support network is wonderful for managing anxiety. In addition to talking to friends and family regularly, there are support groups just for people struggling with their mental health. These groups can connect you with others who are experiencing the same thing. This not only provides emotional relief but also allows you to discover techniques that are working for others and may work for you.

3. Assess Your Job

If you are in a career that causes you a lot of stress, it is worth considering changing careers toward something more suited to your desired lifestyle. If you want to switch jobs and you’re worried about your qualifications, there are plenty of online programs where you can work at your own pace right from the comfort of your home. Online degrees are available for everything from computer science to education to business, and you can earn them while you keep your current position.

4. Avoid Harmful Substances

Most people are aware that drugs and alcohol are not suitable for their health, but many are unaware that even one or two drinks can have a depressive effect that worsens anxiety. Beyond drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes, caffeine and other stimulants can also significantly worsen anxiety. Try switching to decaf coffee or avoiding it altogether for a while to see how it affects your stress.

5. Find a Therapist

Therapy is invaluable in dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, and there are many ways to access therapists today that were not previously available. You can try teletherapy and talk to a counselor from your own home or find someone in your area who specializes in dealing with anxiety disorders. If you’re not ready to take this step, companies are even creating apps that connect you with therapists on your phone.

6. Practice Positive Self-Talk

Many people who struggle with anxiety experience negative thought patterns. To address this, you can try a cognitive behavioral therapy workbook or do some exercises that help you speak more positively to yourself throughout the day. One simple practice is to imagine the child version of yourself when you are stressed and talk to yourself as you would comfort your inner child. This small trick usually makes you more aware of the harshness you may use in your internal dialogue.

Managing anxiety is difficult when you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Some of the tips above can rewire your brain and change the thought patterns that dictate your subconscious behaviors. Anxiety and panic attacks can be reduced, and seeking professional help is always a great option when possible.

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