Anxiety is a terrible emotion that can be crippling to deal with. Most people that deal with anxiety, at some point feel tense or fearful but severe anxiety can be overwhelming, making you feel completely powerless. Panic attacks and feelings of dread can occur out of the blue and it is not unusual for an anxiety sufferer to hide away in an attempt to avoid these feelings in public.
When I was first diagnosed with anxiety, my worst fear was that I would have an anxiety attack in public and that would be embarrassing. Because of this fear, at first, I would hardly go anywhere unless I knew for sure that I wouldn’t have an anxiety attack. I know this probably sounds silly or stupid, but anxiety can rear its ugly head at anytime and can be very difficult to control those emotions that come from anxiety. If you know anything about panic attacks, then you may know that is not something you would want to happen in public! The shaking, rapid breathing, crying, and sweating. Definitely not a pleasant ordeal, especially in public where everyone could see it!
Panic attacks are like wild monkeys (I know that is probably a funny visual for you) and they take work and some practice to learn how to control. So what should you do to prevent or tame an anxiety attack in public? When in public, you may not always be able to find a place to be alone. If this is the case, you are going to have to learn how to control your anxiety around other people. There are many techniques you can use. Here are some key practices I have put in place for myself to equip myself just in case something like this ever does happen.
1. Have a Support Person by Your Side
Having that one supportive friend by your side to talk you down during those high stress and fearful moments can be very reassuring. If you don’t have a support person on your side, then I highly suggest finding one. You can bring this support person with you if you think that you may have a panic attack.
2. Choose A Mantra
Sometimes, just speaking some comforting words can help. Either find a famous mantra, saying, or quote that calms your anxiety or come up with your own.
3. Just Breathe
During an anxiety attack, your breathing sometimes gets faster if you begin to feel anxious and erratic breathing is a symptom of a full blown panic attack. Therefore, controlling your breathing can help calm you before your emotions escalate. Try inhaling for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of four and then exhaling for a count of four. Keep repeating until the anxiety attack feels less intense. This gives you something to focus on other than how you are feeling.
4. Object Focusing
Take some time and intently focus in on one particular object and describe it to yourself in every way possible (for example: the shape, colors, etc) until the feelings begin to subside. I have done this several times and it has helped tremendously!
5. Know all of the Exits
Obviously, sometimes being in public can definitely increase your anxiety. If all of the above suggestions fails and you need to get out of the public eye, then you should try to find a place to be alone, even just for a few minutes or where the best escape is, just in case!
Living with anxiety is definitely not fun or easy, but it is possible! I thought that I would never move past the panic attacks I was having almost daily, but I did. It took time and patience with myself and also making adjustments in my lifestyle. You have to be willing to work hard and do what it takes to get better. Believe in yourself, and instead of being hard on yourself when you have a set back, just work hard on improving yourself and stay positive.