Panic attacks can be something that just creep up on us when we least expect it. If you have never had a panic attack, then that is amazing, but these tips can also be applied to moments of stress and unease. Sometimes the symptoms are vague and so it is hard to know when you are in panic and when you are not. I used to call what I experience an “Anxiety Attack” as I did not think it justified the full “Panic Attack” persona. However, I soon realised that what I was experiencing was not any less that others and it was just that my symptoms were not as obvious. For many, panic attacks include symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, trembling or shaking, a racing heartbeat, dizziness, numbness… My panic attacks include some of these symptoms but also moments of being trapped and distressed of being stuck in a situation. Whether you have some or all of these symptoms is insignificant. It is important to recognise that any of these symptoms, or any other sensation of panic should be acknowledged.
Focus On Senses
I saw a great poster that said that you should focus on what you can See, Smell, Taste, Touch and Hear. It really struck a chord and I have used this in many situations. Panic attacks are all about a loss of control, so bringing the mind back to something that is so simple, and you can control is great! Having that distraction and sense of normality helps the brain to relax and come back to a sense of calm.
Take One Thing At A Time
Rather than panicking, like our brain wants us to do, focusing methodically on one thing at a time really helps. There is no point going round and round through thoughts of distress. Instead, I like to break down steps of a solution to a problem. For instance, if I spilt a drink, I might break it into steps of what I was going to do first… clean the mess, get a towel to mop up the liquid, clean any clothes it got on…. Rather than thinking of the whole problem, focus on tasks. It might be that you are struggling with public transport, so break it down into getting on, sitting down, getting off….
Focus On Breathing
Breathing in and out mindfully really helps. Headspace is a great App for Meditation and breathing exercises. Counting the breathes in and out can create a controllable distraction for the mind.
Spray A Calming Scent
Associating a calming scent such as lavender is a great way to initiate that sense of peace and tranquillity. Carrying a scented hand cream or roll on perfume can be a great way at dealing with moments of panic.
Write Things Down
Sometimes talking only makes things more distressing and so writing down worries and doodling out our worries helps. This physical proactive activity helps to train the mind into logically dealing with the situation.
Have Someone Calming Around
Sometimes all you need is someone to give you a hug and tell you it will be OK. Someone telling you there is a solution and a way out is so helpful. In some instances, a silent warm hug can be all you need. Try to avoid people that tell you that you are being silly, as this will make things worse. Pick the right people that make you feel safe, understood and grounded. If no one is there, phone them.
Remind Yourself Of A Previous Time You Have Got Through This
Remember to acknowledge that you have been through this before and things do get better. This is true of all low points and stressful periods. It is important to remember you are not alone and people are there to help. Remember how successful you were last time at getting through this moment of destress.
I really hope you found these tips on panic attacks useful. It is not nice to experience any form of distress and trust me these things do really help. I hope you can apply these to ease your anxieties, even if even a little bit.