What to Do When Anxiety Makes a Surprise Visit

November 1, 2020
November 1, 2020 Natalie Higgins


It’s been said many times before, “I’m not sure where my anxiety comes from. It just happens. I’m always worried it’s going to happen when I can’t get away”. Those of us with anxiety can relate to the fact that thinking about having anxiety can create even more anxiety. Before you know it, you’re hyper anxious and you don’t even know why. You’ve created this high level of anxiety by your thoughts about not knowing if and/or when that anxiety is going to “hit”.

So, how do we manage a “surprise visit”?

  1. Pause and take a deep breath. Focus on your breathing.
    • Research shows that deep breathing is a proven stress reliever and can turn off the ‘fight or flight’ response you often hear about. According to the American Institute of Stress, there are many benefits to taking a “deep breath”.
  2. Assess the situation. Are you in any imminent danger?
    • Often times when we become anxious, our brain signals to our body that we are in danger. When this occurs, we need to ask ourselves if danger is present or if we are safe. Once we can acknowledge we are safe, we can begin the process of relaxing our bodies and releasing those stress hormones.
  3. Challenge those negative thoughts/questions.
    • Being preoccupied with the “what ifs” or possibility of things going wrong can cause anxiety. Of course, some worry can be good when you need to accomplish a task, but excessive worry about things beyond your control are avoidable.
  4. Think of something that makes you feel calm.
    • Think about one place or thing that makes you feel happy. Use your 5 senses. What do you see, smell, taste, touch and feel? For many people, it is the beach, where they can hear the ocean and taste the salt water. Others, find happiness while spending time with their pets.
  5. Be gentle with yourself. Use positive self-talk.
    • Replace those negative thoughts with positive self-talk. Remind yourself that you are in control and nothing is going to keep you away from achieving your goals. Ask yourself: “Why am I allowing myself to get upset. I’m not in any danger. Why am I making such a big deal about this?”.

Managing anxiety in the moment is no easy task. It takes a lot of practice and patience. Don’t give up on yourself if you try to control your anxiety and are unsuccessful. Not all techniques are going to work in every situation, every time.

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Natalie Higgins

I have been helping people for over a decade overcome challenges from their past, gain confidence in themselves, and feel more connected to others. We all suffer in various ways, and I feel honored to be able to offer a safe space for my clients to speak freely and openly about the challenges they are facing. My hope is that everyone can achieve the amazing benefits of therapy and find more passion and purpose in life. Learn More
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