With recent tragic events like the shooting in Las Vegas, the thought of being out in a crowd might feel terrifying. For people living with anxiety and the fear of large crowds, staying calm can be challenging. In today’s society, it can be hard to avoid a crowd. A crowd can happen almost anywhere, from going to the mall to attending a party. When the panic you feel in a crowd happens, it can seem like you’re trapped and can’t calm down. Remember, you’re not alone, and there are simple steps you can take to feel better. We’re here to help you cope with anxiety in large crowds.
Take note of your symptoms
While you don’t want to completely focus on your symptoms, it’s important to take note of them. Sometimes it can be difficult to know which symptoms you’re experiencing, especially during an anxiety or panic attack. When you know which symptoms you feel most often, you’ll be able to address your specific needs, so you get relief faster.
Here are some common large crowd anxiety symptoms:
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Racing heart
- Difficulty thinking clearly
Everyone is unique, and may feel different symptoms. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to tell your doctor so he or she can help you map out a plan to feel better.
It’s hard to cope with anxiety on a daily basis. Having a good support system is important for people living with anxiety. Your support system could include your friends, family, anxiety support groups, mental health professionals and doctors.
Finding a local anxiety support group gives you the opportunity to meet other people living with anxiety. You can learn coping tips from them and ask questions about things that concern you. Support groups are very helpful because everyone there understands what you are going through.
Work with your doctor and mental health professional to develop a treatment plan as well. Sometimes, you might need medication to help you, and that’s ok. Just make sure you take your medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor and ask questions when you don’t understand something.
What to do when anxiety in large crowds hits
The tips we mentioned earlier will help you be prepared and address your mental health needs. But, even with preparation and the right treatment plan, anxiety in large crowds can hit hard. When that happens, gives these relaxation and coping tips a try.
When an anxiety attack happens, your breathing may become rapid and shallow, making it harder for you to calm down. Deep breathing helps promote relaxation from the inside out. You can use deep breathing at home, work or in a large crowd. Here’s how you do deep belly breathing:
- Sit down in a chair, relaxing your neck and shoulders
- Breathe in slowly through your nose, focusing on feeling your belly rise (not your chest)
- Breathe out slowly through your mouth, focusing on feeling your belly go down
- Repeat as needed
Remember, you want to feel your belly moving and your chest staying as still as possible. If it helps, try placing a hand on your belly and a hand on your chest. Take your time as you breathe and just focus on breathing slowly and deeply.
Listen to calming music
You may not be able to remove yourself from a crowd physically, but you can escape the crowd mentally. Keep small ear bud headphones and some calming music on your phone. When you feel your anxiety symptoms starting up, plug in your headphones and escape into the gentle music. Instrumental music such as classical music is very calming.
While you listen to your music, practice your deep breathing techniques and focus on the relaxing sounds you hear. Try to find a chair in a quiet area if you can where you can re-center.
Practice a mantra
A mantra is a saying that you repeat to yourself, such as a positive affirmation. Often, anxiety causes people to focus on the things, situations or crowds that are scaring them. Remember, your mind can only handle one thought at a time. So, give it a different thought to think about and repeat it. Mental health professionals generally encourage their patients to use mantras. Here are few ideas:
- I am safe.
- I am at peace.
- I am calm.
- I am loved.
It takes practice and repetition, but repeating a mantra during an anxiety attack while practicing your breathing techniques can really help. The more you repeat the mantra, the more your mind will believe it. With time and practicing these coping tips, you’ll be more likely to calm down quicker and feel better sooner.