What to do When Anxiety Strikes - Tips and Tools

Posted by Stacy Bremner, MA, RP on Sep 28, 2019 10:19:02 PM

What to do When Anxiety Strikes - Imago Relationships North America

Anxiety is a normal human occurrence, and part of the challenge is to understand and accept that anxiety is normal. We tend to panic about panic!

In this Blog you'll discover many effective tools and practices to help you feel less anxious, and feel more peaceful and empowered.  It's a necessity to put energy and consistent effort into practices to help you manage your anxiety. If we don’t practice, our brain stays the same and we remain the same.

I recently read a quote from HEADSPACE which said, “It’s amazing to think how much time we spend looking after our physical health and how little we spend looking after the health of the mind.” I find this true for many people. However, I'm one of those people who has chosen to place a lot of time and energy into feeling better.  My favorite tool is journaling. Consistent use of journaling has changed my life, and I use others as well. I'm hoping you'll also find tools that help you on your journey to managing anxiety well.

The first step in reducing anxiety and gaining greater feelings of health and confidence is around acceptance that you feel anxious.

For example, “I accept that I am human and feelings help me to know I am alive!” Here are examples of inner talk to help guide you:

Write down a reassuring message for yourself.

  • “It is just anxiety, it will pass, I am OK…”

  • “This anxiety gives me an opportunity to try new tools and to get to know myself better.”

  • “Everyone feels anxious sometimes, I am not alone…”

  • “Oh hello there, Anxiety, what are you trying to tell me?”

Take some time to create your own reassuring messages so you'll be prepared the next time anxiety strikes. Then grab your journal and write about what is going on for you. 

The second step, when you feel panic or anxiety, reduce the intensity by using a distraction. Distraction can quickly reduce the physical effects of panic.

Choose a physical distraction technique.

  • Look at things around you and name what you see.

  • Place your hand on your heart or any other place on your body. 

  • Tap your fingers on the table or on your thigh. Rub a “worry stone”. 

  • Talk about something light. 

  • Whistle or sing. 

  • Place your hands on your belly and bounce your knees while you say “ha ha ha”. 

  • Gently stomp your feet and pay attention to how your feet feel on the floor.

The third step, calm your body with your breath. There are many effective Breathing Techniques. These techniques tell your brain that “everything is OK” and you'll start to feel better. It really works. 

Choose a breathing technique and write it down.

  • Box breathing - breathe in for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4, rest for 4. Repeat until calm.

  • Sniffs - do 4 or 5 small sniffs in, and then breathe out deeply. Repeat this until calm.

The fourth step, over time we become aware of how we create our anxiety. When we get in touch with the “stories” we have inside we can work to counteract them. Inner thoughts about ourselves and situations create anxiety; plain and simple. Sometimes the stories are not obvious to the thinker. If you cannot find it easily, by practicing mindfulness and observing your thoughts each day, you will eventually notice the scary, negative thoughts.

What were you thinking about when you got anxious? Once we find the thought, next we need to challenge that thought, and replace it with a thought that is more realistic, comforting, and maybe even empowering!

If that is difficult, think about what you'd say to your best friend in that situation. 

Choose a comforting message to say to yourself.

The fifth step is to do some inner work with yourself to increase your self-love, deservingness, and self-esteem. This is about daily efforts towards feeling better. Every human can benefit from time spent on self-love every day. Many self-help books and resources address this.

Support and Resources are available at your fingertips. 

Last but not least!

  • Install a relaxation app on your Smartphone.  Then use it. There are many free apps, such as Mindshift or Healthy Minds or Insight Timer.  There are also apps you can pay for such as Relaxation Lite or Breethe

  • It's helpful to re-image anxiety as “a Messenger” versus a bad thing, so instead of believing your thoughts or trying to push them away, start to listen to the anxiety, and embrace what anxiety is trying to tell you.

  • Use the tools and over time you'll feel better about yourself, become a better friend to yourself, and eventually feel empowered to take appropriate action, and also feel more peaceful.  It takes work to feel better, and we all get to choose the path and practices that speak to us. 

If you're struggling with anxiety and panic attacks, we're here to help. Check out our workshops and therapists!

Connect. Transform. Thrive.

 Stacy Bremner, MA, RP, Registered Psychotherapist - Imago Relationships North AmericaThis blog post was written by Stacy Bremner, MA, RP, Registered Psychotherapist. 

I hold a Specialized Honours B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Human Development.  I am a Registered Psychotherapist (RP) with the CRPO (the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario), as well as a member in good standing with the OACCPP. I am also a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist with Advanced Clinician status and a Certified Imago Workshop Presenter.

I specialize in working with individuals, couples, and groups. I enjoy facilitating a variety of workshops on topics such as relationships, communication, sexuality, healing, self-awareness, creativity, and self-help.

I Offer Imago Relationship Therapy for Couples, a specialized type of couple’s therapy that emphasizes the mutuality of intimate relationships and assists clients in developing conscious, intimate, and committed partnerships by deepening the dialogue between them. 

Additionally, I have a background in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Meditation and Mindfulness, Psychodramatic Bodywork for physical and emotional healing, and Conscious Core Transformation (CCT), a spiritual technique for identifying and healing negative, self-defeating patterns.

Another area of study for me is Kabbalah as I find the Tree of Life to be a very effective tool for growth and healing. I also draw from Buddhist philosophy and ACIM (A Course in Miracles) in my private life or with clients. Because I am so passionate about my work, I find that I continually have a desire to upgrade my skills through reading, attending workshops and teaching. I feel that all these efforts contribute to my growth as a therapist and as a spiritual being.

Check out Stacy's website: www.ameetingofminds.ca


Topics: Panic Attacks, Anxiety, Self Care, Stress Relief, Mental Health, Mental Fitness, Imago Relationships, Self Trust, Self Love, Breathing Techniques, Self Esteem, therapy

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The Imago Relationships Blog features content from our team of professional therapists, workshop presenters and facilitators who are passionate about helping you discover a new way to communicate and love your life.

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