As someone who has struggled knowing how to handle anxiety for the majority of my life, I’ve come to realize the importance of self care as a way to decrease the consistency and severity of anxiety attacks. In this blog, I want to discuss the signs of anxiety, how to handle anxiety, and the benefits of anxiety counseling, particularly from a Christian perspective.
TL:DR: Anxiety is hard, and learning how to handle anxiety can be even harder. With the right forms of self care, you can limit the severity of anxiety attacks.
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5 signs you have anxiety:
Anxiety is a natural response to stress, but when it becomes excessive and persistent, it can develop into an anxiety disorder. Some common signs of anxiety include:
Sign #1: Excessive worry or fear about everyday situations
Sign #2: Physical symptoms like trembling, sweating, and nausea
Sign #3: Uncontrollable panic attacks or feeling like something awful is going to happen
Sign #4: Avoiding situations that trigger anxiety
Sign #5: Intrusive thoughts or images. For me, this always happens at night.
If you are experiencing any of these common symptoms, our clinically excellent Christian counselors will teach you how to handle anxiety and provide tools for coping so it doesn’t get out of control. Remember, anxiety is a real condition that requires proper attention and treatment.
How to handle anxiety with breathing techniques
There are several techniques that can help you learn how to handle anxiety, and one the tried and true methods is deep, intentional breathing.
- Recognize that you are having an anxiety attack: The first step in learning how to handle anxiety attacks is to recognize that you are having one. Take a moment to pause and assess your body’s response. Common signs of an anxiety attack include shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, and feelings of fear or dread.
- Find a quiet and comfortable space: Once you’ve recognized that you are having an anxiety attack, try to find a quiet and comfortable space where you can sit or lie down. It’s important to create an environment that feels safe and secure, and where you can focus on your breathing.
- Sit upright and place your hands on your stomach: Sit upright in a comfortable position and place your hands on your stomach. This will help you focus on your breath and allow you to feel the rise and fall of your belly as you inhale and exhale.
- Take slow, deep breaths: Start by taking slow, deep breaths. Inhale slowly through your nose, filling your belly with air. Then, exhale slowly through your mouth, letting the air out in a controlled manner. Try to lengthen your exhale so that it’s longer than your inhale. This will help slow down your heart rate and calm your nervous system.
- Visualize your breath: As you breathe, visualize the air moving in and out of your body. Imagine a peaceful image, such as a calm ocean or a clear blue sky, and try to focus on that image as you breathe.
- Use a counting technique: Some people find it helpful to count as they breathe. For example, you can inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, and exhale for a count of six. This can help regulate your breathing and create a sense of calm.
- Repeat as necessary: Keep breathing in this slow, controlled manner until you feel your anxiety begin to subside. You may need to repeat this process several times before you feel completely calm.
There are a more than a few studies on how to handle anxiety, and almost all of them suggest the benefits of breathing techniques. Here are a few examples:
- In a 2017 study published in the Journal of Psychophysiology, researchers found that slow, diaphragmatic breathing reduced symptoms of anxiety in participants. Specifically, slow breathing led to a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure, which are common physical symptoms of anxiety.
- A 2018 study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that a specific breathing technique, called the “Coherent Breathing Method,” was effective in reducing symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. The technique involves inhaling for five seconds and exhaling for five seconds, for a total of six breaths per minute.
- According to a report by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, deep breathing techniques can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress by activating the relaxation response in the body. This response can lead to decreased heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
Overall, research suggests that breathing techniques can be an effective way to manage symptoms of anxiety. It’s important to note, however, that different techniques may work better for different people, and it’s always a good idea to consult with a counselor if you are experiencing persistent or severe anxiety symptoms.
Remember, breathing techniques are just one tool to help you learn how to handle anxiety and manage symptoms. If you find that your anxiety is interfering with your daily life, it may be helpful to seek the support of a mental health professional who can provide additional coping strategies and support.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, and make it a priority to learn how to handle anxiety.
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