Anxiety can be ever-present. It can unravel personal and work lives, so it’s always best to be proactive, stopping anxiety attacks in their tracks before it even has a chance to begin. The best way to prevent anxiety attacks is to know what you’re up against (your triggers) and then come up with a battle plan to derail the train of negative thoughts.
This article breaks down the details of the 2-question method and how it can help you prevent anxiety attacks in the future.
1. Identify common triggers.
Anxiety has a pattern. Specific triggers often cause full-blown anxiety attacks. So, take the time to identify what your triggers are. Think back to a time when an attack occurred. What were you thinking about? What was happening around you? And, if you can, take stock of your situation when you feel an attack coming on. Over time, you will notice patterns or triggers that reappear.
2. Implement a plan.
The best way to combat anxiety attacks is to have a plan before it spirals out of control. Breathing and calming exercises can help when you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack, but the 2-question method can help you get ahead of your anxiety.
According to Eckhart Tolle, anxiety is primarily rooted in feelings and thoughts about the past or future, both of which cannot be changed now.
Anxiety also feeds on exaggerated thoughts that often don’t match reality. So, ask yourself these two questions to ground yourself in the present:
Is my anxiety caused by my thoughts or feelings about the past or future?
If this is the case, intentionally move your thoughts to the present. It also helps to use your senses to have tangible elements that can bring you back to reality. Name three things you can see in your environment (flowers, vase, laptop). Then name three things you can hear (dog barking, the TV news anchor talking, the wind blowing). Also, name three things you can feel (the cool floor beneath your feet, the soft couch, cool air blowing from the AC unit).
By doing this exercise, you are actively grounding yourself in the present instead of giving yourself over to thoughts and feelings you can do nothing about.
Are my feelings based on facts, or are they rooted in my gloomy thoughts?
Simply put, are you making up situations that elicit strong emotional responses instead of focusing on what’s happening at the moment? It helps to identify what your emotions are based on to combat anxiety. Then, match this up with reality. Most of the time, our stress comes from these fabricated situations.
Our minds are constantly abuzz with thoughts that, if unmitigated, can spark a full-blown panic attack. We need to train ourselves to be aware of the outset of anxiety and implement a solid plan to stop our negative thoughts. This way, we can reduce the potential for mental strain and emotional exhaustion, which are brought by anxiety attacks.