A panic attack is the body’s exaggerated response to a perceived danger flipping the body into flight or fight mode, releasing a massive shot of adrenaline which speeds up the body’s heart rate, breathing and gives feelings of hotness, sweat, tingles and dry mouth. Experiencing a panic attack can be a frightening and overwhelming experience, but there are several strategies that can be helpful for coping with panic attacks. Here are some tips to help deal with panic attacks.
These tips focus on installing rationale and breathing techniques which ultimately achieve calmness and control.
- Breathe deeply: One of the most effective ways to calm down during a panic attack is to focus on your breathing. Try taking slow, deep breaths and focus on the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body. Counting your breaths can also be helpful.
- Engage your senses: Focusing on your senses can help you stay grounded and present during a panic attack. Try focusing on the details of your surroundings – what you can see, hear, smell, and feel.
- Sight: Take a moment to look around you and notice the colours, shapes, and textures of the objects in your environment. Pay attention to the details of the space you are in, such as the patterns on the wallpaper or the design of the furniture.
- Hearing: Listen to the sounds around you, such as the hum of the air conditioning or the sound of traffic outside. Try to identify each sound and focus on it for a few seconds before moving on to the next one.
- Smell: Notice any smells in your environment, such as the scent of flowers or the smell of freshly baked bread. Try to identify each scent and focus on it for a few seconds.
- Touch: Pay attention to the sensation of your clothing against your skin, the texture of the surface you are sitting on, or the feeling of the air against your face. Focus on each sensation and try to describe it in detail to yourself.
- Challenge your thoughts: Panic attacks are often triggered by fearful or catastrophic thoughts. Try to challenge these thoughts by asking yourself whether they are realistic or whether there is evidence to support them.
- Use positive self-talk: Using positive self-talk can help you stay calm and focused during a panic attack. Try repeating a calming phrase to yourself, such as “I can get through this” or “This will pass.”
- Seek support: If possible, reach out to someone you trust for support during a panic attack. This might be a friend, family member, or mental health professional.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Engaging in relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation on a regular basis can help reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks.
- Avoid triggers: Pay attention to situations or activities that tend to trigger your panic attacks, and try to avoid them if possible. If you can’t avoid them, prepare yourself by practicing relaxation techniques or engaging in positive self-talk beforehand.
Remember that coping with panic attacks can take time and practice, and it’s okay to seek professional help if you need it. A mental health professional can help you develop personalized strategies for managing panic attacks and reducing their impact on your daily life.
This blog is written by Dr Phil Wheeliker MBA MA, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Unmaksed Mental Health. Phil is a qualified Psychotherapist, Business Psychologist and Mental Health Trainer.
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