Imagine you’re in the middle of an important meeting when suddenly, your heart starts pounding, and you feel like you can’t breathe – you’re experiencing an anxiety attack. Don’t worry, you are not alone. In this post, we discuss proven techniques on how to calm anxiety attack, which can help you calm down and regain control during such a situation.

Key Takeaways

  • Recognize and accept anxiety attack symptoms
  • Identify personal triggers to manage them better
  • Utilize calming techniques such as breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization & positive affirmations for relief

Understanding Anxiety Attacks

A person experiencing a panic attack, with physical symptoms such as chest pain and rapid heartbeat

Anxiety attacks, often associated with panic disorder and other anxiety disorders, are experiences of intense anxiety or distress. Common physical symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Flushing skin
  • A racing heart
  • Difficulty breathing

It’s important to differentiate between panic attacks and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Panic attacks usually come on abruptly and have intense symptoms, while GAD develops gradually with more persistent but less severe symptoms, making panic attacks worse in comparison.

Effectively managing panic attacks, also known as anxiety attacks, begins with recognizing and accepting their symptoms. Having a contingency plan for these occurrences can mitigate their impact and help you regain emotional control.

Acknowledging that anxiety attacks, which are natural stress responses, are not indicative of weakness or failure, is instrumental. Improving your overall mental health and leading a more fulfilling life is possible through learning how to manage anxiety and subsequently panic attacks.

Identifying Your Anxiety Triggers

A person thinking about their anxiety triggers and negative thought patterns

Anxiety triggers are events or situations that can lead to an anxiety attack. Being aware of your personal triggers can help you manage them and lessen their occurrence and intensity, thus preventing anxiety attacks. Anxiety triggers can be influenced by various factors, including psychological, environmental, and genetic factors. Common sources of anxious feelings include negative thinking, stressful life events, health issues, medications, caffeine, financial concerns, and self-neglect.

The physiological responses to anxiety triggers can include:

  • Release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol
  • Activation of the fight-or-flight response
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Muscle tension
  • Heightened alertness

Understanding these responses can help you better manage anxiety and develop effective coping strategies.

Taking steps to minimize the impact of your personal anxiety triggers on your life becomes possible once you’ve identified them. This may involve changing your environment, adopting healthier habits, or seeking professional help to address the underlying causes of your anxiety.

Breathing Techniques for Calming Anxiety Attacks

A person practicing deep breathing exercises to calm down during a panic attack

Taking time to relax the body during an anxiety attack can be a helpful way to manage and potentially stop a panic attack. Deep breathing exercises can help you regain control by relaxing your body and mind, and reducing the intensity of panic attacks.

One effective deep breathing technique is the 4-7-8 method, which involves inhaling for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. Another helpful technique is belly breathing, which focuses on deep breaths that expand the diaphragm rather than shallow chest breaths.

While deep breathing can be advantageous for some, it’s worth noting that it can exacerbate panic attacks in others. If this is the case for you, try focusing on an enjoyable activity or using other relaxation methods, such as progressive muscle relaxation or grounding techniques. Remember, everyone is different and it is important to find what works best for you.

Grounding Techniques to Regain Control

Grounding techniques can help people manage panic attacks, anxiety, and trauma by redirecting focus and reducing overwhelming sensations. One effective grounding technique is the 5-4-3-2-1 method, a calming technique that brings awareness to things around you and away from the source of stress.

Another helpful approach is focusing on an object during a panic attack, which can reduce the intensity of overwhelming stimuli and provide a sense of grounding. Objects that can be used for grounding include:

  • A smooth stone
  • A seashell
  • A small toy
  • A hair clip

Practicing grounding techniques can enable you to regain control during anxiety attacks and effectively manage your emotions. Remember to be patient with yourself and give these techniques time to work. It’s essential to find what works best for you and your unique situation.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Reducing Tension

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a technique that involves tensing and relaxing various muscles in turn. This helps to ease panic attack symptoms by sending a signal to the mind that the body is calming, which can then lead to a reduction of other symptoms, such as rapid breathing.

PMR for anxiety attacks can include focusing on all major muscle groups in the body. To achieve optimal results, it’s recommended to practice PMR for 10-20 minutes each day or several times per week.

The incorporation of progressive muscle relaxation into your daily routine can aid in tension reduction and anxiety attack symptom alleviation. By systematically addressing muscle tension, you can promote relaxation and improve your overall mental health.

Visualization and Positive Affirmations

Visualization and positive affirmations can promote relaxation and positive thinking, which are beneficial when managing anxiety attacks. Picturing a happy place or a safe and calming environment can help to ease anxious thoughts and promote relaxation. Repeating a soothing mantra, such as “This too shall pass,” can also provide comfort and reassurance during an anxiety attack.

Positive affirmations can:

  • Challenge negative thoughts and beliefs
  • Build self-confidence
  • Bring a sense of calm and reassurance
  • Help redirect focus from anxious thoughts to more positive and empowering ones
  • Reduce the intensity of anxiety symptoms
  • Support a more positive mindset.

Integrating visualization and positive affirmations into your daily routine can enhance your ability to manage anxiety attacks and foster a healthier state of mind.

Seeking Professional Help for Anxiety Attacks

Seeking professional help, such as therapy or medication, can be an effective way to manage and treat anxiety attacks, especially when combined with self-help techniques. A cognitive behavioral therapist with experience in treating anxiety can be particularly beneficial.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found effective in reducing and eliminating anxiety symptoms, with over 60% of people who undergo CBT experiencing improvements. Additionally, CBT is the best long-term treatment for anxiety, as it provides you with skills that you can use as needed.

Medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can help prevent panic attacks from occurring. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any prescription medication. They can help determine the most appropriate treatment for your specific needs and ensure that it’s safe and effective.

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Anxiety Attacks

Implementing lifestyle changes can help prevent anxiety attacks and improve overall mental health. Regular exercise, for example, releases endorphins that relax the body and lift your mood, having a positive effect on anxiety levels over time. A balanced diet can provide the essential nutrients your body and mind need to function optimally and cope with stress more effectively.

Stress management techniques that can help reduce anxiety include:

  • Self-care activities
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Mindfulness practices
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi

Taking time-outs, practicing mindfulness, eating healthily, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are all essential components of a balanced lifestyle that can prevent anxiety attacks.

The adoption of these lifestyle changes can help you establish a robust foundation for mental health and substantially decrease the likelihood of experiencing anxiety attacks, which are common in individuals with mental health disorders.

Supporting Loved Ones with Anxiety Attacks

A person comforting a loved one during an anxiety attack

Supporting loved ones with anxiety attacks involves understanding their triggers, providing a safe and calming environment, and encouraging them to seek professional help if needed. Empathy and validation are critical in showing your partner or loved one that you understand and are there for them during times of anxiety.

It’s essential to be patient and non-judgmental when supporting someone with anxiety attacks. Recognize that anxiety is a natural response to stress and can happen to anyone. Encourage your loved one to seek help and treatment if necessary, and offer to accompany them to appointments if they feel comfortable.

Providing support and understanding can assist your loved one in managing their anxiety, enabling you both to lead a happier and more fulfilling life together.


Anxiety attacks can be overwhelming and distressing, but with the right techniques and support, they can be effectively managed. By understanding anxiety attacks, identifying triggers, practicing breathing and grounding techniques, incorporating progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, and positive affirmations, seeking professional help, making lifestyle changes, and supporting loved ones, you can regain control over your emotions and improve your overall mental health. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, and with patience and persistence, you can overcome anxiety and lead a more fulfilling life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are 5 coping skills for anxiety?

Try these five coping skills for anxiety: take a time-out, eat well-balanced meals, limit alcohol and caffeine consumption, get enough sleep, and exercise daily. Additionally, practice relaxation techniques, make sleep a priority, eat healthy foods, learn more about anxiety, stay active, avoid recreational drugs, and quit smoking.

What is the 3-3-3 rule for anxiety attacks?

The 3-3-3 rule for anxiety attacks is a simple trick to help focus your attention on the present moment: look around and name three things you see, then name three sounds you hear, and finally move three parts of your body. Doing this can help bring your racing mind back to the here-and-now.

How do I get myself out of a panic attack?

There are many ways to combat panic or anxiety attacks. One way is to take slow, deep breaths and count from 1 to 5 on each breath in and out. Focus on your breathing and close your eyes to calm yourself during an anxiety attack.

What does an anxiety attack feel like?

An anxiety attack can feel like a sudden feeling of fear without any threat, accompanied by a feeling of loss of control or that your life is in danger. You may also have heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath and trouble breathing. These intense feelings of dread and panic can lead to worrying about them happening again or avoiding situations in which they’ve occurred.

What is the difference between panic attacks and generalized anxiety disorder?

Panic attacks are sudden and severe, while generalized anxiety disorder has more persistent but less intense symptoms.

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