It is perfectly natural to feel nervousness and anxiety when you’re about to go in for an important meeting, a presentation, and interview, etc. However, if nervousness and anxiety are conditions that affect you on a regular basis, sometimes they can get a little overwhelming. Here are 10 tips to handle an anxiety attack effectively no matter where you are, or what you’re doing:
- Stay busy
They don’t say “An empty mind is the devil’s workshop” for no reason. In some way or another, your thoughts can be your worst enemy when you’re faced with an anxiety attack. Overthinking follows suit immediately, leading your thoughts and mental processes into a whirlwind of worry and stress. When your mind is preoccupied with work, preferably something you enjoy doing, it serves as a great distraction from your fears and stresses.
- Engage in movement
One of the most effective ways of dealing with an anxiety or nervous attack is walking it off. Literally. Since all that pent-up energy inside you is being manifested in nail-biting, or sweaty palms or shivering hands, actually taking a short stroll can do wonders in calming your body down. It helps to get rid of the built-up energy and gives you time to buffer up and calm your nerves. Look at it this way: whenever your vacuum cleaner gets clogged up with dust, you shake it and clean it so as to make it work. Your body works a similar way. All the physical side effects fo an anxiety attack is due to blocked energy: once you get rid of that by walking, moving around–whatever floats your boat–you’ll begin functioning better.
- Control your imagination
Imagination knows no bounds and even more so when you’re undergoing nervousness. However, the trick is in controlling what your mind pops into your head. It sounds hard to do, and in the beginning it is–but practice makes perfect, and the more you do this, the better your brain will be at sorting out the irrational fears and the concerns. How? Carefully sit down and focus on each and every thought buzzing through your mind: no, of course there won’t be mass outrage at your presentation, let it go. So what if you stumble? It’s perfectly acceptable. You’re only human. Your speech will be just fine even if you stutter a bit. Happens to the best of us.
And no, not the short, rapid breaths. In fact, that’s the last thing you should do during an anxiety attack–it has already quickened your pulse rate, causing you to breathe heavily and speedily. What you should do, is breathe slowly. Close your eyes, inhale for 7 counts, hold for 5 seconds, and then exhale–even more slowly this time–to 11 counts. Keep repeating this technique until your body is automatically forced to calm your heart rate and subsequently, your nervous system. This technique should ideally, if done right, take no more than 5-8 minutes: you just have to be patient with yourself.
- Do not aim for perfection
Accept the fact that you are not going to the nail it on the first attempt. Nor ever, because perfection is absolutely irrelevant in this context. It’s okay to go wrong a couple of times, embrace the learning process. Be selfish–in a good way–and refrain from anything that may potentially trigger you, and give yourself an ample amount of time to heal. This is not a competition to see who makes it first, nor is there any sort of pressure on you. Every individual has their own pace of dealing with difficulties and you should accept yours with love, care and patience.
- Think rationally – what’s the worst that could happen?
Be it an interview, a presentation, a speech, or even a daily activity that triggers you, know that the worst that could happen is that you would go wrong…AND THAT’S FINE. Try to think realistically–there is no major threat to you, and everyone understands that people do mess up once in a while. There is nothing that will harm you physically if you find it difficult to talk to the cashier or ask for change. Always attempt to do better than you did last time–it will build your confidence faster and help you heal better, too.
- Observe your surroundings
This one is a personal favourite–and I can guarantee you this works. It’s a technique called grounding, and here’s what you have to do:
Look around you, and list five things that you can see.
Then, four things you can touch.
Following that, three things you can smell.
After, two things you can hear.
And lastly, one thing you can taste.
This technique helps you adjust to your surroundings by activating your five senses, and lets your mind know that everything is hunky-dory, and that there’s no need to panic. Our bodies are quite smart, and we need to learn how utilize this skill. This exercise does just that: it tells your body that there is no threat to you and your body picks up on the signal almost immediately. Cool, huh?
- Talk it out
You never know if your best friend might just be going through this condition daily unless you talk about it–or anybody, for that matter. Do not be shy. Open up about your nervousness, your anxiety to a trusted companion. Suppressing it only makes it worse. Who knows, you might just acquire useful advice from someone who understands what you go through! Be proud of even the littlest things that you’ve achieved, and show them off to these trusted people as a mother would show off the trophy her kid just won.
- Learn your anxiety triggers
Certain situations and circumstances can serve to put you off the rail every time you encounter them. Memorize these and let your trusted circle of people know about them. This will help you prevent future attacks and also help your friends and loved ones know what to do and when in the event of an episode.
- Reward yourself
Be proud of yourself, even if it’s just the way you got through the ticket line at the theatre or successfully used a public booth. You are your greatest motivation, no one understand you better than you do. Award yourself little gifts or treats every time you achieve something new or deal with an attack in a better way.
Anxiety and nervousness are nothing to be ashamed of, they are only different aspects of what makes us human. Handling these situations well, for yourself as well as for anyone who has them, makes us more sensitive and empathetic towards other people and ourselves. Do make use of these tips if you’re ever faced with an anxious situation, or suggest them to someone who you know has these episodes.