5 Tips to Stop an Anxiety Attack

Today was snowy here in Suburbia, I had a medical appointment I didn’t want to miss which would normally take me 20 minutes to drive with good weather. Of course as I looked out our window and saw the snow wafting down consistently over the course of the day I was concerned.

Since my car accident in Feb/2010 I have issues with driving, I often avoid driving due to weather or time of day and have been known to have panic attacks even as a passenger. This was one time I couldn’t avoid driving in the snowy conditions. I left the house early after visualizing my route and rest points. When I drive I always identify areas where I can pull over and rest if my anxiety becomes too much and a panic attack threatens.

It’s sad to say that I am this fearful after driving around Ontario daily through all kinds of weather all of my life, but it’s my current situation and I have to get past it.

As I drove out of our small town onto the country roads I quickly realized I was in over my head! There were snowdrifts across the road and white-outs ever 50 feet. I could feel anxiety over-taking me as I white-knuckled the steering wheel and breathed deeply to fight an oncoming panic attack.

I know the people in the vehicles lined up behind me must have been very impressed as I navigated my way down the road going 30km/h in a 60km/h zone but I was doing my best not to lose my mind.


In the end I managed to turn around and was just pulling into my driveway when my doctor texted me telling me we should reschedule due to low visibility and unsafe driving conditions…..oh I seriously love this doctor!

Learning understand anxiety and reduce the chances of having a panic attack isn’t easy but I have some tricks which I use each day that I will share with you all.

 5 Strategies I use to reduce my anxiety:

Yawning – helps ease anxiety and can reduce situational anxiety. It can also induce a sense of calm into an intense circumstance and a heightened state of alertness, according to the pros who study these things.

Deep Breathing– When people are anxious we tend to take rapid, shallow breaths that come directly from the chest. Shallow breathing causes an imbalance in the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the body resulting in increased heart rate, dizziness, muscle tension and other physical sensations. By taking deep, even breaths you begin to regulate the oxygen levels in your blood.

Muscle Relaxation – By alternately tensing and relaxing the muscles in my neck, shoulders, arms and face for 20 seconds each we become aware of the physical feeling. Because of the feelings of warmth and heaviness we feel in the relaxed muscle after it is tensed, we often feel mentally more relaxed.

Scent – Find a scent which you find pleasant, for me it’s lavender. Lavender brings back fond child hood memories and I keep a vial in my purse or with me at all times. By waving the vial under my nose with my eyes closed I picture happy, a stress free thoughts and quiet my mind. This often stops my anxiety from increasing.

Stop the thought – Acknowledge the thought that is causing the anxiety and stop it. Replace the thought with something else, perhaps a vacation you’re planning with your family or home renovation. Focus upon that replacement thought and explore it, lose yourself in the visualization and take your mind from the worrying thoughts.

These tips I’ve listed are the ones I use while in the face of a panic attack, exercise, healthy eating, vitamins and good sleep patterns are essential for people who suffer with anxiety.

How about yourselves, do you deal with anxiety issues?

Do you have any tips to share?

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29 Responses

  1. Deep breathing works wonders for me. I figured it out after it got me through that whole childbirth without drugs thing. Deep breathing, plus replacing the thought I am dwelling on with something happy or “useful” is how I normally try and calm myself. Great tips! Never considered yawning as a stress reliever!

  2. I always drag around an ice cold bottle of water. The shock of cold gives me something physical to focus on while I try to breathe… or something to wash a chill pill down with ;) I like the aromatherapy idea- I’ll have to give it a try!

  3. I can totally relate to anxiety issues and I’m a worrier too (or are those the same thing in some respect?). Anxiety tends to run in my family. We have been reading an incredible book with my daughter! What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety – it has some amazing tips for children with anxiety!

    And, you’re not the only one with driving issues! I don’t like to drive at night in storms – freaks me right out!


    Oh and P.S. your doctor TEXTS you?!? Wow! That’s some doctor!

  4. Oh, Julie! This is such a good post. Not the experience of winter driving you were in, but the tips! I’m with you on the driving thing. I was in an accident last winter with one of my ESL students and my toddler. The car spun around three times on the highway and ever since I’ve had a few anxiety attacks when it comes to driving. Hubby or someone else (family member or friend) does the driving on long road trips now :(

    The deep breathing or thinking of something calming seem to help a bit for me.

  5. I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced anxiety attacks but, ever since I became a mom, I’m much more aware of my mortality and I try to avoid dangerous things a lot more. But, these are great things to help. I know when I’m stressed, pleasant scents really help.

  6. One of our children (teen) has anxiety and we were told in addition to the great tips you have stated to drink ice water (with ice in it) or to chew gum. Apparently doing these things distracts the brain.

  7. These are fantastic tips! thankyou! I am a stress-ball/worry-wart/etc.
    I also tend to freak out when driving in rainy or snowy conditions or busy sections of highway…(had a rainy 3 car accident that ‘totalled’ the car about 9 years ago, STILL think about it, worry, etc)

  8. These are great tips! I had (one of) my first panic attack about 6 years ago. I have done everything – psychotherapy, medication, CBT (best thing ever)!, PMR, MBSR, acupuncture, massage, exercise, supplements, etc.

    I found that I could never, no matter what I did (although yawning is a good thing!), actually stop a panic attack. One thing I learned on my journey was to sort of let go and actually accept what was happening, as in “I am having a panic attack”, and actually mindfully go through it. Even now, when I have one (and they usually don’t affect me as badly), I will acknowledge what is happening.

    Additionally, I found to get up and move around helped a lot too.

  9. Great Tips Julie. I think it’s also important to realize that there are reasons why people drive slow. You hear comments all the time and people get really frustrated but I wonder if they ever stop to think of what that driver may be experiencing. I am a pretty patient driver and if I am stuck behind a slow driver I often think it’s where I am meant to be. I have experienced a few anxiety attacks in my life and they are not pleasant.

  10. Excellent post Julie. Good info. You can purchase Rescue Remedy from the Health Food Store. Put 4 drops in your mouth/and or in your water bottle until the anxiety passes.
    Great for dentist visits, hospital visits, or any anxiety. Helps with any worry.

  11. I’ve never thought of yawning; I will have to try that next time, thanks! Also for me I have to stay cool, when an attack hits I get so overheated and sweaty so if I can stay cool or even cold it seems to slow it down some…summer attacks are awful.

  12. Sounds like you have a good doctor. I remember having one anxiety attack in high school when I thought I was going to die because I couldn’t catch my breath. My Mom had to take me to the ER to get me to calm down.

  13. I try to get a good book and take a long hot bath. These are some great tips. I used to have very bad anxiety attacks. I used yoga and deep breathing to help me as well.

  14. These are really great tips and ones I use to manage every day stressors that could lead to me feeling anxious and/or overwhelmed. Depression and anxiety are little-understood illnesses that affect millions of people.

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