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How to stop an anxiety attack

07 Mar, 2024
An image featuring a person with a worried expression. The image suggests the topic of anxiety and its impact

If you’re prone to stress, worry or panic, then knowing how to stop an anxiety attack is one of the keys to improving your mental wellbeing.

Anxiety attacks are intense, sudden surges of dread, fear or panic. They can result in both emotional and physical symptoms and can overwhelm the sufferer.

If you suffer an anxiety attack, you may have difficulty breathing, start shaking uncontrollably or sweat profusely. Your heart may start pounding, and it might feel like you are suffering something more serious, like a heart attack or stroke. It also might feel like your world is closing in around you.

If you have anxiety attacks regularly, it can have a profound effect on your everyday behaviour. You may find it challenging to look after yourself or enjoy your leisure time. It can affect your focus or concentration and put a strain on your personal relationships. It can also leave you fearful about trying new things.

Thankfully, research and understanding of anxiety have come a long way in recent years. There are some simple self-help techniques you can adopt to recognise the signs, so you know how to stop an anxiety attack before it gets too bad. Here are our thoughts... 

What is an anxiety attack?

Anxiety is triggered when your body responds to danger. When you feel threatened, under pressure or are faced with a challenging situation, your body automatically responds by releasing hormones that help you stay alert and focused, prompt you into action and motivate you to solve the problem. However, when anxiety becomes constant or regular, it can manifest itself in some of the symptoms and behavioural changes we’ve listed above, which can have a big impact on your everyday life. 

Anxiety attacks are intense episodes of panic or fear, which are often triggered by an event or situation you find yourself in. They often last only a few minutes but can be so overwhelming that you feel in discomfort or out of control. It can also take a while for your body to recover after experiencing one. There are a few different types of anxiety, each with their own underlying issues which can trigger an anxiety attack.

The most common of these is a generalised anxiety disorder, where you might feel distracted by constant general worries and fears which distract you from everyday activities. If you feel worried or anxious all the time, this can lead to a host of symptoms including insomnia, restlessness, nausea and fatigue.

Anxiety can also be brought on by phobias or irrational fears of things including enclosed or dark spaces, open spaces or crowds, spiders, snakes or dogs. Fear of heights and flying can also trigger anxiety.

And if you often find yourself in a state of discomfort in social situations, this may be down to social anxiety, or the fear of being viewed negatively by the group you are in.

An image  featuring a person sitting with hands on their head, indicating stress or anxiety. The image suggests the topic of anxiety

What does an anxiety attack feel like?

Although the symptoms of an anxiety attack can vary from person to person, there are some common feelings you may experience when you are having one. These include:

  • A surge of overwhelming dread or fear
  • The feeling of losing control or going crazy
  • Chest pains and heart palpitations
  • Feeling like you’re about to pass out
  • Breathlessness or a choking sensation
  • Hyperventilation
  • Hot flushes or chills
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sickness and stomach cramps
  • Feeling detached from the world around you

How to know if you have anxiety

Anxiety can be hard to spot, particularly if you suffer from it regularly as it can just feel like a part of your everyday life. However, there are a few signs to look out for which might indicate whether you are suffering from anxiety. If you are always tense, worried, or on edge, then anxiety may be an issue for you. Likewise, if you are plagued by worries or fears that you know are irrational but can’t seem to shake them off.

If your worries are affecting your relationships or your performance at work, it could be a problem for you.
Other signs include feeling that something terrible will happen if things aren’t done a certain way, feeling as if there is something bad or dangerous around every corner, and avoiding certain situations or activities because they cause you anxiety.

The image suggests the topic of managing anxiety with to-do lists and coping strategies

How to treat anxiety

Spotting the signs early so you can act is the best way to overcome an anxiety attackSo, if you recognise your triggers and start to feel any of the symptoms listed above, there are a few things you can do to calm yourself down and relax before a full-blown anxiety attack takes hold.

These include: 

Reach out to others

  • If you’re feeling lonely or isolated, this can escalate feelings of fear or anxiety. So, pick up the phone, pop round to your friends for a chat or ask for help.
  • As the old saying goes, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. Talking about your worries with someone else will help you work through them rather than letting them get the better of you.

Reduce stress

  • Stress is often a major trigger of anxiety attacks, so try to avoid stressful situations or putting extra pressure on yourself whenever you can, whether it’s at work, at home or in social situations.
  • Remember, nobody is perfect, nobody is judging you and everyone is allowed to make mistakes, so don’t be too tough on yourself.

Aromatherapy

  • Essential oils are renowned for their healing powers and the calming and positive influence they can have on your emotional and mental wellbeing. So, if you are feeling anxious or worried, why not take a bath with a few drops of your favourite essential oil, indulge yourself in a massage, or practise yoga while burning a soy wax candle. Some of our best oils for reducing anxiety include calming bergamot essential oil, uplifting clary sage essential oil and relaxing ylang ylang essential oil.

Get some exercise

  • As well as helping you to stay fit and healthy, exercise floods your body with feel-good hormones which reduce stress and relieve anxiety. Also, giving your mind something to focus on rather than your everyday stresses and strains can help you get a different perspective on things. 

Reduce caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and sugar

  • Some of your guilty pleasures could be enhancing your feelings of anxiety. Caffeine, nicotine and sugar are all stimulants, which can fire up your nervous system and make you feel on edge. Alcohol, on the other hand, acts as a depressant and can actually make your problems feel worse. If you get cravings, try munching fresh fruit or veg sticks and lay off the energy drinks. You’ll feel less stressed and may sleep better too. 

Take a natural supplement

  • Stress and anxiety can deplete your body of certain nutrients because of the effect they have on your metabolic processes. At times of stress, your nervous system uses extra B Vitamins and Vitamin C to cope.
  • Our yeast-free Nutri-Calm supplement has been specially formulated to top up your levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin B to maintain healthy nervous system function and help you stay soothed and settled during times of stress

Check out these links to our product and collection pages to find out more:
Disclaimer:
Information and other content provided in Lily & Loaf blogs should not be construed as medical advice and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise. If you have any medical concerns, you should consult with your health care provider.