Everyone experiences panic now and then – before an important presentation, while taking the test for your driver’s license, and other similar situations.
For some people, however, panic attacks are not exceptions. They occur repeatedly, sometimes without a specific reason.
Clammy hands. Feeling suffocated. Dizziness.
When you start feeling these, you know a panic attack in coming, and you panic even more…
If you know that you have panic attack disorder, and you suddenly feel one hit you, here are things that will quickly and effectively calm you down.
How to deal with a panic attack
There are many different things you can do when panic sets in. The following tips are based on the assumption that you are not at home or your comfort zone, where it is usually easier to deal with panic attacks.
1. Take your medication
If you are taking medication for panic and/or anxiety attacks, then yes, this should be the first thing you do. No questions asked. After that, you can go on to the next four tips.
If you aren’t taking medication, then the next four activities will help you.
2. Sit down
Find a place where you can sit down comfortably – your office chair, the balcony floor, the park bench…whatever place is nearest, go there and sit. Acknowledge that you’re experiencing a panic attack and just let your body go with it for the moment.
Once you’re seated, and the chances of you falling over and hurting yourself are nil, focus on your breathing. Close your eyes if you have to, but muster all your strength think about nothing else but your breathing.
Feel the air as you inhale and exhale.
Count as you inhale and exhale.
As you continue to do this, your breathing will settle into a pattern, which will ultimately calm you down.
Also keep a paper bag handy if you experience panic attacks often. Just like paper bags help people with asthma calm down and regulate breathing, they can quickly help you calm down in the midst of a panic attack.
4. Talk to someone you trust
If you’re at work, and you have a friend who knows your condition, immediately catch their attention and let them know you’re having a panic attack. They will be able to help calm you down.
If you do not have anyone nearby, whip out your phone and call a friend. The chances are you have your closest friends on speed dial anyway, so it should be relatively easy to get in touch with them.
If you’re a visual person, visualization is a powerful tool to use when experiencing a panic attack. Think of your “happy place” – a place (real or imagined) where you feel safe, content, and happy.
For me, one of my happy places is a beach where I went snorkeling. The image I keep in my head is a coral reef below me, teeming with life. I also feel the warmth of the water and the gentle movement of the waves.
If you do not have a happy place, create/choose one now.
These are a the things that usually work for me when I have a panic attack. If worse comes to worst, I go home and lie down until it passes.
How do you deal with panic attacks? Do you have your own tried and tested methods? Share them with us in the comments below.