The Fight or Flight Response: Effective Ways to Recognize and Repel Intense Stress and Anxiety

Have you ever suffered a panic attack? If not, you’re lucky, because at least 1 in 10 people experience panic attacks. In fact, anxiety disorders strongly relating to panic attacks are now considered the most common mental illness in the United States.

Panic attacks are often triggered by a particularly stressful, anxiety-inducing event and are generally unpredictable. Recognizing the signs of panic-inducing stress is often the first step to recovery, as it’s how you react to these signs that will determine your coping strategy and the severity of the attack in question. If you feel you’re suffering with panic attacks and don’t know how to cope with the anxiety and stress that comes with them, below you’ll find some effective ways in which to both recognize and repel their intensity.

Establish your automatic stress response

How we deal with stress significantly varies from person to person, so it’s essential to step back and identify how you specifically respond. Stress responses generally fall into two different categories: overexcited and underexcited.

Characteristics of an overexcited stress response include anger and agitation towards the stressor, and underexcited stress reponses often include withdrawal and feeling ‘spaced out’. Next time you feel a panic attack emerging, try to identify how you’re automatically responding – this will give you the tools to choose the most appropriate stress-relieving strategy for you.

Talking to someone

Generally, social engagement is one of the best possible methods for regulating the body’s nervous system. Therefore, simply talking face-to-face with someone willing to listen will be extremely effective in counteracting stress.

If you’re with friends and you suddenly feel stressed and panicky, don’t be afraid to pull someone aside and ask to talk – a true friend will always be willing to listen and help. But sometimes this isn’t always possible, especially if you’re out in public alone without anyone you know close by. In instances like this, giving someone a call can be just as effective as speaking face-to-face, so it’s vital to keep a network of close friends for both your emotional and mental wellbeing.

Engage in something relaxing that you enjoy

When feeling intense emotions of stress, a distraction is often pivotal to making you feel more relaxed and less anxious. So, ensuring you have headphones to play music with you at all times is essential if you enjoy listening to music, or having relevant apps that relate to activities you like is sure to provide a much-needed relaxant against impending stress.

Learn more how a simple coloring book app can induce therapeutic relaxation on-the-go no matter where you are.

Panic attacks are notorious for being scary and unpleasant, especially when triggered by a severe stressor that automatically induces feelings of anxiety for you. However, if you establish how your body naturally responds to these triggers, you can tailor your specific coping strategy to suit you – any time, any place as long as you’re prepared and have the resources you need.

Charlie Harper is a therapist. He teaches people how to turn negative situations into positive ones, and turn the daily grind into an altogether more pleasant experience, enjoying each day as it comes.