How to Calm an Anxiety Attack: Step-by-Step Guide

Aura Health Team
Written by
Aura Health Team
Aura Health is a community of hundreds of top coaches, therapists, and storytellers worldwide. We are here to provide the world’s most extensive, personalized collection of mental wellness content & services.
Aura Health Team
Written by
Aura Health Team
Aura Health is a community of hundreds of top coaches, therapists, and storytellers worldwide. We are here to provide the world’s most extensive, personalized collection of mental wellness content & services.
How to Calm an Anxiety Attack: Step-by-Step GuideHow to Calm an Anxiety Attack: Step-by-Step Guide

Feeling overwhelmed by anxiety can be incredibly distressing. The rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and racing thoughts can leave you feeling like you're spinning out of control. But fear not! There are effective techniques you can use to regain your composure and find your center. In this article, we'll explore ten fast ways to ground yourself during an anxiety attack. By understanding and implementing these strategies, you can take back control and find a sense of calm amidst the storm.

Understanding Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, are intense episodes of fear and distress. They can occur suddenly and without warning, leaving you feeling helpless and frightened. To effectively calm an anxiety attack, it's important to understand the science behind these experiences and identify common triggers.

The Science Behind Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks are the result of your body's natural stress response system going into overdrive. When faced with a perceived threat, your brain releases a rush of hormones, including adrenaline, to prepare your body for action. This hormonal surge can lead to a range of physical and emotional symptoms, such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and a sense of impending doom.

During an anxiety attack, your body enters a heightened state of alertness, known as the "fight-or-flight" response. This response is designed to protect you from immediate danger by increasing your focus, strength, and speed. However, in the case of anxiety attacks, this response is triggered in the absence of any real threat, causing an overwhelming sense of fear and panic.

One of the key components of the stress response system is the amygdala, a small almond-shaped structure in the brain that plays a crucial role in processing emotions. When the amygdala detects a potential threat, it sends signals to other parts of the brain, activating the stress response. In individuals with anxiety disorders, the amygdala may become hyperactive, leading to frequent and intense anxiety attacks.

Common Triggers of Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks can be triggered by various factors, including stressful situations, traumatic experiences, or even specific phobias. Understanding your triggers can help you anticipate and manage the onset of an anxiety attack. Common triggers include public speaking, flying, crowded spaces, or overwhelming workloads.

Stressful situations, such as job interviews or important presentations, can put immense pressure on individuals and increase the likelihood of an anxiety attack. The fear of being judged or evaluated negatively can trigger intense feelings of anxiety and panic. It's important to recognize these triggers and develop coping strategies to navigate such situations effectively.

Traumatic experiences, such as accidents, abuse, or natural disasters, can leave a lasting impact on an individual's mental health. These experiences can create a heightened sense of vulnerability and trigger anxiety attacks as a response to perceived threats. Seeking therapy or counseling can be beneficial in processing and healing from these traumatic events.

Specific phobias, such as fear of heights, spiders, or enclosed spaces, can also trigger anxiety attacks. The anticipation or exposure to the feared object or situation can lead to intense anxiety and panic. Gradual exposure therapy, under the guidance of a mental health professional, can help individuals overcome their phobias and reduce the frequency of anxiety attacks.

It's important to note that everyone's triggers and experiences with anxiety attacks may vary. What may cause intense anxiety in one person may not affect another person in the same way. Therefore, it's crucial to develop a personalized understanding of your triggers and work towards managing them effectively.

Recognizing the Signs of an Anxiety Attack

Before delving into the techniques to calm an anxiety attack, it's crucial to be able to recognize the signs that one is imminent. By understanding the physical and emotional symptoms, you can take action earlier and minimize the impact of the attack.

Physical Symptoms of Anxiety Attacks

Physical symptoms of an anxiety attack can manifest in various ways. These may include a racing heart, breathing difficulties, trembling or shaking, sweating, and even chest pain. Recognizing these physical cues can help you intervene and calm yourself before the attack escalates.

Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety Attacks

Alongside the physical manifestations, anxiety attacks also bring about intense emotional distress. These emotional symptoms may include feelings of fear, apprehension, a sense of impending doom, or overwhelming worry. By acknowledging these emotions, you can better navigate through the attack and find a way to ground yourself.

Immediate Techniques to Calm an Anxiety Attack

When an anxiety attack hits, it's crucial to have a toolkit of immediate techniques to bring yourself back to a place of calm. Here are two effective techniques you can try:

Breathing Exercises for Anxiety Relief

Deep breathing exercises have been proven to be highly effective in calming anxious thoughts and reducing the physical symptoms of an anxiety attack. By focusing on your breath and taking slow, deliberate inhales and exhales, you can elicit a relaxation response in your body and mind. Practice this technique regularly to strengthen your ability to calm yourself during an anxiety attack.

Grounding Techniques to Combat Anxiety

Grounding techniques aim to bring your attention back to the present moment and away from the anxious thoughts racing through your mind. One effective technique involves using your five senses to ground yourself. Take a moment to identify five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. By engaging your senses, you can anchor yourself in the present and diminish the intensity of the anxiety attack.

Long-Term Strategies for Managing Anxiety Attacks

While immediate techniques are helpful during the peak of an anxiety attack, developing long-term strategies can greatly reduce the frequency and intensity of these episodes. Consider implementing the following techniques into your daily life:

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Anxiety

Anxiety can be influenced by various lifestyle factors, such as poor sleep, unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise. By improving these areas of your life, you can better equip yourself to manage anxiety attacks. Prioritize regular physical activity, establish a consistent sleep routine, and consume a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Therapeutic Approaches to Anxiety Management

For individuals who experience frequent and severe anxiety attacks, seeking professional help can be invaluable. Therapeutic approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) have been proven to effectively manage anxiety. A therapist can help you identify and challenge cognitive distortions, develop coping mechanisms, and learn relaxation techniques to incorporate into your daily life.

When to Seek Professional Help

While implementing the techniques discussed above can be effective for managing anxiety attacks, there may be instances where seeking professional help becomes necessary.

Recognizing When Anxiety is Out of Control

If anxiety attacks greatly interfere with your daily life, relationships, or overall well-being, it may be a sign that your anxiety is beyond what you can manage on your own. This could involve experiencing anxiety attacks on a frequent basis or having severe symptoms that impact your ability to function.

Finding the Right Mental Health Professional

If you believe you require professional assistance, reaching out to a mental health professional is essential. They can provide a thorough assessment and guide you towards appropriate treatment options that suit your unique needs. Consider researching therapists who specialize in anxiety disorders and scheduling an initial consultation to determine the best course of action for your mental health.

In conclusion, anxiety attacks can be overwhelming and distressing, but with the right techniques and strategies, you can regain control and find your calm. By understanding the science behind anxiety attacks, recognizing the signs, and implementing immediate and long-term techniques, you can effectively manage these episodes and live a more balanced, peaceful life.

Remember, the Aura Health App offers a wide range of resources to support your mental well-being. From guided breathing exercises to informative articles, the app is designed to empower you in your journey towards anxiety relief. Download the app today and take the first step in finding your calm.

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October 26, 2023
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