How can you help when I have an anxiety attack?

Anxiety attacks are scary! Your heart rate is going at a million miles a minute and it feels likes your dying so you may often ask yourself is something wrong with me? No, nothing is wrong with you and everything is going to be okay as soon as you learn effective strategies to calm down! When you are having an anxiety attack often times you feel like everything is going to crash and burn and although that will not happen your peers will want to do everything they can to try and help you.  Your peers may have your best interest at heart and truly want to help but when you have never experienced something it can be difficult to know what you can do that is actually helpful. When I am having an anxiety attack, people, what to help but in my experience sometimes the tips you get from your peers are not always helpful.  Helping someone through an anxiety attack means a lot to the person experiencing it but want to make sure you are actually helping them and not making worse. If you know someone who has anxiety attacks giving helpful tips is really important during an attack so today I am going to teach you a few.

Noone ever calms down by being told to calm down-  When someone is having an anxiety attack often times their very first instinct is to tell that person to calm down. I understand your concern but I have never seen anyone calm down by being told to calm down but actually, I have seen the reverse effect when people get really mad at you for saying that. When you have an anxiety attack you have reached a point where your anxiety has gotten out of control so you can’t calm down. Eventually, the anxiety attack will pass and you will be okay but while someone is experiencing one it is not helpful to tell them to calm down because they will most likely not listen to you and get really mad.

Don’t try to be conversational-  When I am having an anxiety attack I don’t want to answer your questions and probably won’t truthfully. I will tell you what you want to hear just to get you to stop asking questions so if you truly want to have a conversation with me with and get honest answers, save the questions for after it passes. I will most likely not even remember we had that conversation so we will probably have that same conversation twice anyways.  My anxiety attacks are only a few minutes and I highly doubt anything you have to say can’t wait five minutes when I am fully aware and am paying to you.

Remove me from the situation-  Sometimes the situation  I am in is just too much and the only way it will get better and I will calm down is if I am removed from the situation. If you can take me outside for a minute to help me calm down or remove me from the situation completely.  This is not always an option and if it isn’t I do have anxiety coping strategies that I use to get through an attack.

Water-  Water will not do miracles by preventing or ending an anxiety attack but what it can do is reduce the severity of one. Getting someone water who is having an anxiety attack might help cut that attack in half so it can never hurt.

Reassure me everything is going to be okay-  When you have an anxiety attack your heart rate feels like it is going a million miles a minute and you feel like everything is going to crash and burn. You can’t rationalize with someone who is having an anxiety attack but what you can do is reassure them everything is going to be okay. Sometimes when we are feeling this way all you need is someone telling you everything will be okay.

I may yell-   When I am having an anxiety attack it is not uncommon for me to get angry at myself (especially when I have been doing so well) and take all my anger and frustration out on you. If you are trying to help but I have made it clear I don’t want that help by yelling at you then that is your queue to walk away. Don’t take it personally sometimes I just need a minute to myself to gather my thoughts and get my anxiety under control. You can your best to try and help but at the end of the day if I don’t want it then you have to respect that because by forcing it will only make it worse. Sometimes all I need to when I am feeling anxious is space and if you truly wanted to help you would recognize that and give it to me.

Try counting backward from ten- This is not something somebody else can do for you but something you can do for yourself when you are having an attack.  In one of the podcasts, I listen to I learned that when you close your eyes and count backward from ten slowly and out loud it can help you calm down and get control of your anxiety. I was a little bit skeptical at first because I didn’t see how something that sounded so simple and a little bit stupid could be so effective. What it does is it helps regain control of your mind when anxiety is taking over helping you to calm down. This method may seem so stupid and you may feel awkward doing it but I have personally tried it so it does work.  If you are going to try this method you have to count backward from ten because counting forward does not have the same effect.

During an anxiety attack, your heart rate may be going a million miles a minute and you may feel like you are dying but I assure you you’re not! Anxiety and panic attacks cannot kill you so just breathe and remember your coping strategies to help you get through it.  If you are trying to help someone through an anxiety attack learn the things you should say and know when you should back off! Being too pushy while someone is having an anxiety attack can make the anxiety attack worse so if you have done everything you can to try and help and nothing seems to be working then it might be best to walk away.  Sometimes we just need a minute and we’ll be fine. If you have any questions about how you can help during an anxiety attack please leave them in the comments below.

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