What to Do During a Panic Attack
Having a panic attack? Don't worry. Here are some powerful ways to calm yourself and get through it. It’s hard to describe a panic attack to someone who has never experienced anything beyond some butterflies in their stomach before a test or an interview Well, having one is no fun is certainly an understatement because it can be really scary to the point where you feel you’re dying or losing a grip on reality.
If you get them frequently you have probably learned some coping mechanisms and we have some suggestions here as well to give you relief and get you through the episode until you get more permanent relief.
It can feel powerless at times and you feel you have lost control but there are things you can do to calm your body and mind and bring back a sense of control and get through it all and get back to a more relaxed and calm feeling mentally, emotionally and physically as well.
Panic attacks are typically experienced on the emotional level A lot of it is just happening in your head. But there are also panic attacks that have very strong physical manifestations. Maybe you start to shake, you break out in a cold sweat, or in extreme cases, you want to throw up. Again, it doesn't matter whether your manifestations are emotional or physical or a combination of both. It's no fun to go through such an attack. Well, there are many ways you can calm yourself during a panic attack. Please note that these methods don't necessarily make the panic attack go away, but using these techniques can drastically lessen your symptoms. Everyone is different so you need to experiment and find what works best for you. As you master these techniques you will feel more empowered knowing you have tools to counteract the panic and get through it more rapidly. Because of this you will tend to have less episodes of panic since losing control is a central theme of many panic attacks. Control your breathing One of the most common symptoms of panic attacks involves breathing. You start to breathe in rapid bursts. Your breathing becomes shallow. Pretty soon, you feel like you're hyperventilating and this causes a lot of the physical sensations You start sweating and this combination of physical symptoms triggers even worse emotional distress. By taking care of the physical aspect of a panic attack through breath control, you can go a long way in minimizing your emotional reaction to the attack. Control your breath by purposely breathing long and deep breaths, which will help you reduce the hyperventilation which can then allow you to calm down sufficiently so you pull yourself out of panic.
My favorite method is known as box breathing which is simply breathing slowly and deeply into your belly for a count of five, hold your breath for a count of five, exhale for a count of five and after the exhale hold for a count of five until you take the next breath. Keep repeating and eventually a sense or calm will start to seep into your body.
If it works for Navy Seals in the middle of combat, it can work for you.
Breate deeply and naturally, don’t ever force it to the point where the breath is exaggerated or forced. Everything should feel natural and comfortable. Keeping your eyes closed during a panic attack Sometimes people feel panic because they are in a situation with a lot of stimulus. Maybe your in a cramped space with a lot of people and noise.
In this situation you need to reduce the stimuli by closing your eyes and reducing the noise if possible until you can get to a more tranquil environment.
A lot of this is due to the fact that you have your eyes open and you are trying to process everything coming in and it can seem overwhelming at times. By simply keeping your eyes closed while you're going through the attack and focusing on your breathing, you can go a long way in setting aside social trauma so you can focus on calming yourself down. Switch your attention If you know you're going through a panic attack, one of the most effective things you can do to calm down is to simply focus on what you were doing before the attack hit. If that doesn’t help then do something that really needs your attention and focus.
Ultimately you want to get out of the cycle of thoughts about the panic attack itself. You want to stop the “I’m freaking out”, “I can’t handle this”, “I’m scared” type of thoughts. Whatever the case may be, go back to what you were doing and try to divert as much of your attention to what you were focused on instead of the panic attack. Sometimes, this works because the more you dwell on the disturbance that's going on in your mind and end up emotionally reacting, what do you think happens next? My favorite thing was to sing a song which not only takes my mind of the panicky thoughts but also forces you to breathe as well. Obviously you can’t do this at work or in a crowd but at home it can be effective.
Find your distraction. Work a puzzle, do a chore, go for a walk. Do something fun like play with your dog or watch some comedy on Youtube. Use lavender oil Lavender has a well-documented history of helping people relax and feel calm. Buy a diffuser and create the lavender oil scent around your home. Taking a bath with lavender salts is very powerful. Realize this is temporary
If you have repeated attacks, remind yourself that you got through the last one and you will get through this one. Tell yourself this is only temporary and you will get through it. It’s scary and tough but ultimately tis will pass and tomorrow will be a fresh start.
Talk to a professional Don't be afraid to get professional help. If you tried all the techniques above and took other steps like meditation and mindfulness, it's probably a good idea to get professional help. Seeing someone who handles stress/anxiety issues doesn’t mean you’re crazy or helpless. Just the opposite. Your just getting more information to deal with the problem and get through it.
You’re taking control of the situation. Well, just as you wouldn't think twice about going to a doctor when you break your arm, you shouldn't really worry about what other people think if you ask a psychiatrist or a professional counselor to help you deal with your panic attacks. There are solutions and there are ways out of this. You can do it!