Panic attacks are sudden, intense waves of fear, panic, or anxiety. They are overwhelming and their symptoms can be both physical and emotional.
Many people with panic attacks may experience shortness of breath, sweat profusely, shake, and feel their hearts beating.
Some people experience chest pain and a sense of detachment from reality or themselves during a panic attack, which makes them think they are having a heart attack. Others have reported feeling like they are having a stroke.
Panic attacks can be scary and may hit you quickly. Here are 11 strategies you can use to try to stop a panic attack when you have one or when you feel it looming:
1. Use deep breathing
While hyperventilation is a panic attack symptom that can increase fear, deep breathing can reduce panic symptoms during an attack.
If you can control your breathing, you are less likely to hyperventilate as this can make other symptoms worse, including a panic attack
Concentrate on inhaling and exhaling through your mouth, feeling the air slowly fill your chest and abdomen, and then slowly expel it. Breathe in for a count of four, hold the breath for a second, and then breathe out for a count of four.
2. Recognize that you are having a panic attack
Acknowledging that you are having a panic attack rather than a heart attack can remind you that this is temporary, that it
will pass, and that you are fine.
Take away the fear that you are dying or that an imminent death is coming, both are symptoms of panic attacks. This can
allow you to focus on other techniques to reduce symptoms.
3. Close your eyes
Some panic attacks come from triggers that overwhelm you. If you are in a
fast-paced environment with a lot of stimuli, this can cause you to experience one.
To reduce stimuli, close your eyes during the panic attack. This can block any additional stimuli and make it easier to focus on your breathing.
4. Practice mindfulness Mindfulness
Mindfulness can help you connect with the reality around you. Since panic attacks can cause a feeling of detachment or detachment from reality, this can combat a panic attack as it approaches or when it actually
Focus on the physical sensations that you are familiar with, such as sinking your feet into the ground or feeling the texture of your jeans in your hands. These specific sensations place you firmly in reality and give you a goal to focus on.
5. Find an object of focus
Some people find it helpful to focus on a single object during a panic attack. Choose an object in sight and look carefully at each of its details.
For example, you may notice that the clock hand jerks when it ticks and is slightly lopsided. Describe yourself the patterns, color, shapes and size of the object. Focus all your energy on this object, and panic symptoms may lessen.
6. Use muscle relaxation techniques
Like deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques can help stop an oncoming panic attack by controlling your body's response as much as possible.
Consciously relax one muscle at a time, starting with something simple like the fingers of your hand and doing the same on other parts of your body.
Muscle relaxation techniques will be most effective when you have practiced them beforehand.
7. Imagine your happy place
What is the most relaxing place in the world that you can imagine? A sunny beach facing a sea of gently gentle waves? A cabin in the mountains?
Imagine yourself in that place, and try to focus on the details as much as possible. Imagine dipping your toes into the warm sand, or smelling the intense smell
of pine trees.
This place should be quiet, calm and relaxing, without the streets of New York or Hong Kong, no matter how much you love cities in real life.
8. Do light exercises
Endorphins keep your blood pumping exactly as it should. It can help flood our bodies with endorphins, which can improve our mood. Because you are feeling stressed, choose a light exercise that is gentle on the body, such as walking or swimming.
The exception to this is if you are hyperventilating or struggling to breathe. Do what you can to catch your breath first.
9. Keep lavender on hand
Lavender is known to be calming and stress relieving. It can help your body relax. If you know you are susceptible to panic attacks, have some lavender essential oil handy and put some on your forearms when you have one. Inhale the smell.
You can also try drinking lavender or chamomile tea. Both are relaxing and calming.
Lavender should not be combined with benzodiazepines. This combination can cause severe drowsiness.
10. Repeat a mantra internally
Repeating a mantra internally can be relaxing and reassuring, and it can give you something to hold onto during a panic attack.
Either simply "This too shall pass" or a mantra that is personal to you, repeat it in a mental loop until you feel the panic attack begin to subside.
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