Meditation is a daily practice, that when done while calm will help in the long term with anxiety and depression. But, at the beginning of the road, when moving from one minute to the next, short term solutions to difficult emotions are necessary.
When the anxiety begins to spiral, sitting with your eyes closed trying to let the thoughts pass may enhance it rather than reduce it. Instead, you need to find your ground.
The first thing my therapist taught me in my initial session after a three-day panic attack were grounding techniques. She had several but there were three that stuck out to me and I used a lot in my early days of therapy.
First, take note of your surroundings without using judgemental statements. Examples are: brown car, green tree, big tree, red sign, round wheel. Or if you’re inside: black TV, brown table, red pillow, carpet with flowers. Notice how all are descriptive without judging them as “good,” “bad,” “pretty,” “ugly,” etc. Judgement statements have emotions attached and the goal is to stay as unemotional as you can while you re-ground yourself in your surroundings.
Second, rub one hand on your pants leg and your other hand on a surface with a different texture. For instance, say you’re driving and your breathing gets tight, you feel your heart fluttering and you know you’re about to panic. Rub you left hand on your jeans and your right on the steering wheel. Take note of the difference in the textures. Get lost in this sensation rather than the panic.
Third, literally ground yourself by stomping your foot. Feel the sensation of the impact travel up your leg. Feel yourself connect with the ground.
These can be used separately or together. In my first year of therapy I had days where I was doing these all day long just to keep the anxiety attacks at bay. With enough times of experiencing the physical feelings of an attack without succumbing to it, and noting that everything was okay if not better due to my lack of an attack, over time my anxiety improved so that I needed these techniques less and less.