November 30, 2021

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Everything You Need to Manage Your Panic and Anxiety

Illustration: Vectorium (Shutterstock)

Most, if not all, of us have been dealing with dizzying levels of anxiety for months now. A devastating pandemic, unemployment, an ugly and contentious election—and then, of course, yesterday’s siege of the Capitol by Trump-stoked extremists. There is so much to be furious and devastated about; there is so much work to do. In the meantime, you need to take care of yourself. And we at Lifehacker want to help you do that.

On a personal note, I am a lifelong anxiety-disorder sufferer—had my first panic attack at 11, I did. I have an arsenal of tools at my disposal: multiple breathing methods, a weighted blanket, friends and family (and a therapist) who can help me ground myself—and a prescription for benzodiazepines when shit gets real. But many of us are new to this jittery and insomnia-racked community; I have not enjoyed welcoming my heretofore serene pals to Club Collywobbles (I’m sorry, that’s terrible, I was trying to make it cute). So I combed through the archives of Lifehacker to find the best advice we had.

Identify what anxiety is doing to you

First, it helps to know what’s going on in your brain, when anxiety takes hold. (“This is a cortisol flood,” I told myself at some point yesterday. “It feels like ass.” Science!)

Make a plan for the next time

Second, while yesterday was harrowing, we must face the possibility that more chaos could erupt over the next couple of weeks—and beyond. Even if nothing dramatic occurs, the anticipation of, say, Inauguration Day might set off your now-hyper-sensitive alarm system. Here’s our guide to election night; many of the ideas in there can help you cope with any stressful event.

Learn how to get through a panic attack

Many of you have experienced your first panic attack recently. Welcome, my freaked out lil’ fledglings. One panic attack doesn’t mean you’ll have more, but the anticipatory fear of the next one can be paralyzing in itself. So, again: A plan is good. Here’s how to get through a panic attack, featuring the dulcet tones of …me.

Use this BoJack panic-attack hack

Behold: a quick hack thanks to BoJack Horseman. You don’t need to wait for a full-on panic attack to use this technique. Whenever anxiety feels like it’s getting the upper hand, turn to the BoJack hack.

Curb the urge to self-harm

Many of us deal with anxiety by self-harming. This could be your brain’s way of taking control of a seemingly uncontrollable situation, or to keep from disassociating. If this is you, you’re not alone. Here are some apps to help you manage this impulse and (hopefully) feel more compassion for yourself.

Help your kids

Obviously, adults aren’t the only ones coping with anxiety these days. If your child is struggling—and it seems like almost every kid is, on some level—here are some ideas to help them out.

Distract yourself

My personal favorite tactic for dealing with anxiety: Get under a (weighted) blanket, and watch cartoons.

Or maybe you need a more active approach (but not the “get off the couch” kind of active). May we suggest video games? Well, we just did.

As always, we are here for you. Tell us how you’re doing in the comments. Email me if there’s anything else you need from us.

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