Not knowing how to deal with a panic attack can feel very scary. They can be very overwhelming and that feeling can cause more panic in us that we feel like we can’t control.
Panic attacks can be sudden and can differ in how long they last but are usually brief. They are usually set off by something triggering that brings on the feeling of fear or intense nervousness. Some of those triggers could be being out in a public place, a confrontation or a conversation that may be uncomfortable, or something that reminds you of the past or a future event that is stressful. During a panic attack we will usually feel a lot of physical symptoms like a racing heart, difficulty breathing and/or sweating. You may even feel chest pain, feel dizzy or lightheaded during a panic attack and it is essentially our body’s way of feeling unsafe and setting off alarms through our body.
Here are a few tips on how to deal with a panic attack. Like I stated before panic attacks can be brief, but they can also make you feel like you are losing control and it will feel like it is lasting a lot long in our head. Here are a few ways that can help you through that moment or even be helpful before and after.
During a panic attack some hyperventilating could happen making it feel like we can’t breathe. Try taking a moment to focus on your breathing and taking some deep breaths. This deep breath will look like an inhale through the nose for 4 seconds, filling your chest and belly region. Hold for 6 seconds and release all the air in an 8 second exhale.
Closing off your environment
Your panic attack could have been triggered by your environment, whether it’s fast paced, over simulating or creating some fear for you, taking a moment to close our eyes to block out and stimuli can be helpful. If you can, take a seat and close your eyes and try to regain your focus again.
During a panic attack we can feel like we are losing control of ourselves or feel anxious because of what is going on. When we have anxiety, it is very common to tense our muscles. Engaging in muscle relaxation technique can help loosen some of that tension and work to relax parts of the body. If you are seeing a therapist, it would be good to work with them to practice muscle relaxation or finding a video on someone guiding you through tensing certain muscle regions and relaxing them.
Reciting a Mantra
Repeating a mantra that is important to us and makes us feel safe can help with relaxing and reassuring yourself that you are safe. It should be something that speaks to you, and you believe helps bring you back down.
Focus on something
Finding something around you or something you own and focus on it can help stop some of the thoughts passing through your head and shift some of your mind and body’s attention to this object. When focusing on an object think about how it feels, how it looks, how it is used and maybe who uses it, either hold it or think about holding it and how it would feel in your hand.
These are just a few things that can be helpful before, during and after a panic attack to make us feel grounded and to help relax our bodies.
If you feel that your panic attacks are more persistent and some coping skills you have tried are not working, don’t hesitate to reach out a therapist or doctor to see if you can get some understanding about what may be going on.