Tags – Coping with a Panic Attack
Panic attacks are sudden surges of fear, panic or anxiety.
Whilst you cannot predict when a panic attack will occur, knowing how to cope with them and making a plan of what to do when a panic attack happens can help make them easier to manage, as well as help you feel more in control of your mind and body.
Typically, people who get a panic attack will feel symptoms like:
- Feeling dizzy
- Chest pains
- Shaky limbs
- Choking sensation
Unfortunately, panic attacks can be quite scary, especially because they can hit you out of nowhere and happen very quickly.
To help you manage your symptoms, here are our top 5 tips for coping with a panic attack.
1. Recognise You’re Having a Panic Attack
When you feel as though you’re about to have a panic attack, it’s important to try and recognise this and not mistake it for a heart attack.
By doing this, you can remind yourself that this feeling is only temporary, it will be over soon and you will be okay.
Moreover, you should try and stay where you are when you feel you’re about to have an attack. The reason being, is sometimes panic attacks can last up to an hour – so it wouldn’t be a good idea to carry on driving.
Instead, stay where you are and pause – concentrate on your thoughts and try to tell yourself that it is just your mind reaction and that these feelings are normal.
Recognise it and stick with it: it will pass.
2. Focus on Breathing
Hyperventilating is a common symptom of panic attacks, as well feelings of dizziness, disorientation and chest pains, but all these can cause increased feelings of fear.
Luckily, focusing on your breathing can reduce symptoms: try to take deep breaths in and through your mouth. Concentrate on the air filling you inside and then slowly leaving again; you can try slowly counting to 4, hold for a second then release for 4.
Simply, the more you can control your breathing, the better you will be able to cope with the panic attack.
3. Try Muscle Relaxation
Like breathing, muscle relaxation is a technique used to control your body’s response to the panic attack.
As a result, the mind can sense that the body is relaxing and help relieve other symptoms, such as rapid breathing.
To practice progressive muscle relaxation, tense various muscles and hold it for 5 seconds. Then, say “relax” as you release and wait 10 seconds before you tense the next muscle.
4. Find a Focus Object
Often, during a panic attack a person can become overwhelmed and distressed.
- What is it made from?
- Who made it?
- What does it feel like?
- What shape is it?
Doing so can help lessen the symptoms of a panic attack.
However, if you feel it difficult to try and find an object when you’re experiencing a panic attack, you could carry a familiar object with you, like a seashell from when you visited the beach.
Essentially, focusing on just one stimulus can help to reduce other stimuli that trigger symptoms.
5. Close Your Eyes
Sometimes, panic attacks happen from overwhelming triggers, such as being in a fast paced environment where there’s lots of stimuli.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to close your eyes during your attack, which will block out everything in your sight which should make it easier to focus on your breathing.
On the other hand, you could picture your happy place; your happy place should be where you would feel the most at peace, safe and relaxed.
So it’s also a good idea when you close your eyes to try and imagine being at your happy place; really concentrate and think about how calm it is, or how your body feels touching the wet sand or soft rugs, for example.
All in all, if you’re able to find particular triggers that cause your panic attacks, it will help you to be better prepared and deal with them to bring yourself back to a normal state.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to keep a diary and note down each time you have a panic attack: where was it? Who was there? What was happening?
The final takeaway: always remember panic attacks won’t last forever and you will be okay!
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