Managing Mild Anxiety Attacks
By Ann Quasarano
By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve most likely experienced a panic attack or anxiety attack. Lots of things can trigger mild anxiety; public speaking, worries over a test or work project or concern over a friend or family member’s health or well-being. Just like our tolerance for certain foods, our tolerance for stress is different based on our blood type and yet, even among blood types, each individual responds very differently based upon our personal experience.
My good friend, also a blood type A, experiences acute anxiety attacks and has been in the emergency room on more than one occasion, convinced that she was having a heart attack, while my response typically involves obsessive thinking about the subject of my anxiety – frequently at 3 o’clock in the morning. While there is almost no way to completely stop occasional mild anxiety, we are, after all, human, there are ways to reduce the severity of an attack and calm ourselves before old man anxiety gets the better of us.
Guided imagery allows you to use your imagination to go to a safe place and let the anxiety pass. Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and focus on a place that makes you feel happy and visualize it with all of your senses.
Breathing – Simple deep breaths can help you to center yourself and calm down.With your eyes closed, take a deep breath in through your nose and out throughyour mouth. Try to fill your lungs and belly when you breathe in and empty themwhen you let your breath out. Repeat this at least 10 times. Another helpfultechnique involves breath counting. For this exercise, breathe as you normallywould, the first time you exhale, count “one” to yourself, the second time, count “two” toyourself – continue counting until you get to ten and then repeat the process.Focusing on the breathing and counting will focus your mind and control anxietyprovoking thoughts.
Meditation – In the past, when I’ve suggested meditation, people have told methat they “don’t know how to meditate.” In my opinion there is no “right” or “wrong” wayto meditate – I believe there are as many types of meditation as there are people!So don’t add to your anxiety by being concerned that you are not meditating correctly.The focus in meditation is to be in the present moment and concentrating on yourbreathing. If you can, lay down in a comfortable spot, for the first minute,focus solely on your breathing – in through your nose, out through your mouth.Beginning with your feet, focus on each part of your body, slowly moving up fromyour feet to the top of your head. As you do this, mentally visualize the bodypart and focus on intentionally relaxing that area of the body, “my feet arerelaxed, my muscles are relaxed, I am relaxed. My ankles are relaxed, my musclesare relaxed, I am relaxed.” Do this all the way to the top of your head – bewarned, you may fall asleep before you get to your knees!
Guided Imagery – This is one of my favorites for preventing anxiety from taking over your thinking and calming your body. Guided imagery allows you to use your imagination to go to a safe place and let the anxiety pass. Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and focus on a place that makes you feel happy and visualize it with all of your senses. Perhaps you love being on the beach – picture the ocean before you and the waves rolling in and out in sync with the rhythm of your long, deep breaths. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, see the sunlight dance and sparkle on the water, smell the salty air, imagine the rough, golden sand beneath you, hear the cry of the gulls as they soar above your head, carrying away all your troubles. Focus on the moment and enjoy being there – it’s almost as refreshing as a vacation!
While these methods may not completely eliminate your anxiety, it may reduce both the frequency and intensity of the attacks. For those times when you need a little extra help, Cortiguard for blood type A and B and Catechol for blood types O and AB, contain herbs that have a calming effect. Tranquility Base is also a good tonic (take it before bed to relax). Low levels of Vitamin D have also been found in people suffering from mild and seasonal depression, so make sure that your levels are up to par by taking a supplement daily.
Image: Theodore Aman, ‘The Worry’