Having a panic attack is no fun at all. It can be scary, disorienting, and overwhelming, I know. There are some essential points that I find helpful to keep in mind in the midst of an attack. If you find yourself having a panic attack, bring these points to mind to help get you through it.
If your heart starts to race while you’re having a panic attack, you may fear you will have a heart attack and die. I promise that you won’t. The fear can be overwhelming to the point where you can’t think straight. It’s important to learn the symptoms of a heart attack versus a panic attack, because then you will be able to identify that it’s just a panic attack and it will pass. If your attacks begin to get worse, you may consider seeking counseling or medications.
When everything begins to race or slow beyond comprehension, it’s easy to get scared. Keep in mind that it will be okay. Panic attacks will end. You won’t be in an extended attack the rest of your life. Rather, it will go as quickly as it came in some instances. So remember when you’re afraid that everything will be okay. I sometimes repeat that to myself when I need to hear it.
It’s vital to keep breathing through a panic attack. Take slow, deep breaths. It’s easy to start to hyperventilate but bringing your awareness to your breathing can help calm you down. Try inhaling to the word “slow” and exhaling to the word “down.” It will help you refocus in the chaos of the moment. Breathe.
It’s okay to let it out. If you have to cry, cry. If you have to scream, scream. No one is telling you to keep it in and if you are having panic attacks, then you’re already filled with too much anxiety. Releasing the emotion in whatever way it comes will help the panic attack end. It won’t stop them from happening again but it will release the pent-up energy that caused your current one.
During my attacks, I can remember getting confused in a ball of emotions and losing my awareness of where I really was. It’s important in times like that to gently remind yourself where you are. This might mean repeating to yourself that “I am in my room. It will be okay.” Remembering where you are gives you some stability during a very disorienting situation.
More often than not, your muscles begin to tighten during a panic attack. One thing to keep in mind is to not leave them that way as it can harm the muscle. My attacks have led me to have a lot of stress build up in my jaw, making it both uncomfortable and tense. You can try tightening your muscles further and then relaxing them as a form of muscle relaxation therapy. It will help take care of your muscles and release some of the pent-up energy during an attack.
It’s okay to have someone there with you, even though it is a very vulnerable moment. You may consider calling family or a close friend to help talk you through a panic attack. I would counsel against having one single person to rely on because it could get difficult if they get tied up and can’t help you. But if you feel an attack coming on and you want to be comforted, then call someone and ask for help. You could have a key word in place just in case you can’t fully explain the situation, but that would alert the other that they should come over to help.
These are points to remember when you’re having a panic attack that I find helpful. Not all panic attacks are the same and it’s important to listen to your body’s response and adapt to techniques that work for you. What works for you? Do you have a mantra you say to help calm you down?
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