Anxiety attack in public? A therapist offers her best advice

vWalking out your front door and out into the world probably feels emotionally draining right now. With the omicron variant looming in the holiday season (which can be difficult even in a “normal” year), you may be dealing with mental restlessness. So know that if you find yourself in the midst of an anxiety attack in public, you’re not alone. And licensed therapist Mariel Buqué, PhD, has a simple mindfulness-based technique to help you regain calm in times when you feel out of control.

According to the online therapy resource Betterhelp, an anxiety attack is defined as intense feelings of anguish, fear, restlessness, and worry that come on slowly but tend to linger even after the “attack” itself is over. This is different from a panic attack, which comes out of nowhere and often manifests as acute fear and detachment from the world around you. both are No the same, so keep in mind that Dr. Buqué’s advice is for an anxiety attack. (However, you can find some tips for managing the panic variety here.)

In a recent Instagram video, Dr. Buqué shared that if you experience an anxiety attack in public (whether you’re at a party, a doctor’s office, or the grocery store), you can distract your brain with a basic technique. “One thing you can do that’s actually super incognito is consciously counting the colors that are in the room,” she says. “You can count the colors in the room for a period of 30 to 60 seconds, then write down how many colors you actually counted. That will really take your mind off whatever is causing the anxiety.” By the time you’ve dialed in the hues around you (“Emerald. Aquamarine. Ruby Red…”), you should feel a little more like yourself again.

Dr. Buqué’s Anxiety Attack Buster is a great tool to keep in your back pocket. But keep in mind that if he experiences frequent anxiety attacks, it’s a good idea to bring them up with a mental health professional who can help you develop long-term strategies to keep his anxiety at bay. You don’t have to navigate this alone.

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