Reduce Anxiety and Panic by Building Basic Skills

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You can reduce anxiety and panic by building basic skills. Perhaps you've heard of having an anxiety toolbox: a collection of tips, strategies, and techniques you can do to manage anxiety and panic attacks. The concept of building basic skills to reduce anxiety and panic is similar. However, now you're going to go a bit deeper with it. Reducing anxiety and panic by intentionally building a specific skill set will help you improve not just your experience with anxiety, but the overall quality of your life. 

Would It surprise you to know that scuba divers don't have to know how to swim? That said, they do have to be comfortable in the water and be able to maneuver as well as avoid panicking in dangerous or unexpected situations. Swimming, though, isn't required to be a skillful and efficient diver. 

Life is like this. We don't have to be experts at shaking off anxiety or stopping panic attacks with a wave of a wand in order to enjoy life. Just as scuba divers build some basic water skills for safety and pleasure, we can all build basic skills that will let us reduce anxiety and panic enough to live well. 

Steps to Reduce Anxiety and Panic with Skill-building

You need to learn the skills to reduce anxiety and panic, but this isn't too difficult to do. Skill-building for a life almost completely free of anxiety and panic attacks involves three general steps:

  1. Identify the necessary skills for what you want.
  2. Find techniques specific to those skills.
  3. Practice with perseverance. 

Step One: Identifying What You Need

The first step is one that is often overlooked. It's common to want to find skills to fill the toolbox to the brim. While having many different strategies at your disposal is wise (even your favorite techniques don't work in every situation 100% of the time, so having many things on which to draw is smart), an effective skill set is one of quality rather than quantity. If you wanted to be a baker of decadent desserts, you might go to a kitchen store for specialty utensils and supplies. Kitchen stores have items not just for baking but for cooking and grilling, too. You could buy all the equipment available in the store, but the products for cooking and grilling wouldn't be of much use to you. You know you want to be a baker, so acquire tools specifically for baking. 

When it comes to anxiety and panic, evaluate yourself:

  • What is your unique experience with anxiety and panic? How do you experience it and what would make that experience better?
  • What is important to you? What do you want your life to be like when you reduce anxiety and panic to the point that they aren't so bothersome?

Your answers to these questions become your focal point as you determine what you'll need to get there. 

Step Two: Explore to Find Techniques Specific to Your Needs 

When you progress to step two, you'll find and develop specific techniques to develop the skills you need to reduce anxiety and panic in regard to your goals and vision. Like a scuba diver, you'll move around and take in the complexities of everything around you. A scuba diver doesn't need advanced swimming techniques because diving isn't swimming. Taking swimming lessons would be a waste time that could be spent building the right skills. 

Reading articles and books will help you learn what techniques are out there to reduce anxiety and panic. 

A partial list of skills to learn to reduce anxiety and panic includes:

This is only the tip of the iceberg. There is no "right" or "wrong." The right activities for you are the ones that build the skillset you need to move toward the life you value. 

Step Three: Practice

Practice can be the hardest step to take when you want to reduce anxiety and panic. A scuba diver practicing in a pool or shallow area of water might be impatient and frustrated. Maybe his instructor taught him difficult kicks and maneuvers and he feels he's not getting them. Maybe he just wants to start diving. Either way, he's tempted to quit.

Building skills to reduce anxiety and panic can be upsetting for similar reasons. Anxiety is hard to live with and can be even harder to overcome. When you know what you need and want, and you set out to find the right tools, you can begin to practice them, again and again, to reduce anxiety and panic and live a quality life. 

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2018, May 21). Reduce Anxiety and Panic by Building Basic Skills, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, and Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps. She has also written five critically acclaimed, award-winning novels about life with mental health challenges. She delivers workshops for all ages and provides online and in-person mental health education for youth. She has shared information about creating a quality life on podcasts, summits, print and online interviews and articles, and at speaking events. Tanya is a Diplomate of the American Institution of Stress helping to educate others about stress and provide useful tools for handling it well in order to live a healthy and vibrant life. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Lizanne Corbit
May, 21 2018 at 4:57 pm

I absolutely love this! Our daily life is truly formed by our daily habits, whether we see them as habits or not. Mindfully creating a skill set that is positive and beneficial to you (and your anxiety) can have such a profound impact. When we take control of our habits, the result is very empowering.

May, 21 2018 at 5:16 pm

Hi Lizanne,
Thank you -- I'm glad you like this and I appreciate you sharing your insights. You're remarks are always spot-on, and I'm glad you're willing to comment/share. Our habits, our actions, are powerful indeed. When we can break out of those that hold us back and create ways to move forward, we win out over anxiety (and other challenges, too).

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