Tips To Help You Get Through A Panic Attack
Panic attacks can be physically and mentally exhausting, and they are often difficult to manage. We reached out to members of our community for suggestions on how to cope with panic attacks and anxiety. Here are some helpful ideas that you came up with.
1. Know your triggers
Increasing self-awareness and knowledge about your own mental health is always a plus. The more you KNOW your triggers and how your anxiety presents itself, the easier it will be to talk yourself through an attack. Mindy H.
2. Leave the situation
I remove myself from the situation immediately, go home, and pet my dogs its the best I can do right now. I have to take care of myself, and when my body is sending me distress signals, I have learned to respond before I have a meltdown. Cathy M.
I hide in bathrooms I feel safe in the cubicles. Jon I.
I go for a walk. Even if Im at work, a quick 10 or 15 minute walk works wonders. Melissa S.
3. Grounding techniques
I look around to find 5 things I can see, 4 things I can touch, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell, and 1 thing I can taste.;Its called grounding. Sam A.
Grounding techniques. Focus on whats around you, what it looks like, the smell, the texture. Gia S.
Look around you for
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
This is called grounding. It can help when you feel like you have lost control of your surroundings and/or your head. Tracy K.
Immediate Ways To Calm Your Panic Attack
Tool #1: Deep Belly Breathing
Whenever you notice an anxious thought or a physical symptom , thats a sign that your internal system notices a threat.
The best thing you can do is start taking long, slow deep breaths from your belly to calm down. Breathing in our chest is shallow and gets the adrenaline pumping, which is why your heart starts pumping hard during an attack. Your body thinks you need to run from a threat!
Belly breaths are like a nervous system reset its the quickest way to let your brain know everything is OK. Push your stomach out to fill it with air then slowly exhale.
Important tip: In order to help your system deactivate fight-or-flight, make your exhale longer than your inhale. This stimulates the part of your nervous system in direct opposite to fight-or-flight, called rest and digest.
Deep Belly Breathing Instructions:
Sit upright and put a hand on your chest and the other hand on your stomach.
Take a deep breath for 4 seconds, making sure to expand your belly , hold for 7 seconds, and then breathe out your mouth for 5 or more seconds.
Quick tip: You dont have to be exact with your counting as long as the exhale is longer.
Repeat several times until you notice a sense of calm washing over you.
If youre having difficulty expanding your belly , lay down and place a book on your stomach. Make the book move up and down.
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How To Treat Panic Attacks: 6 Exercises And Techniques
Panic attacks can seem as challenging to treat as they are to control.
However, with a systematic approach and adherence to a few simple techniques, panic attacks can become manageable.
In this article, youll gain a working understanding of what triggers a panic attack and how to approach treatment for your client. Youll learn about the options for clinical treatment, as well as exercises and techniques your client can use to manage their panic attacks, both during an attack and in their everyday life to reduce the likelihood of an attack occurring.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to . These science-based exercises will explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.
Play A Game With Yourself
You could get your mind off the anxiety attack by playing a quick game. Ask yourself a question that has several answers:
- Name as many states as you can
- Name as many dog breeds as you can
- Name as many cities as you can
- Recite the alphabet backwards
- Practice simple times tables
You may respond better to some questions than others, but the idea is to make yourself think about something other than anxiety. All grounding methods for anxiety attacks are mind over matter, but they do work.
If you need help finding the right grounding technique for you, talk to an anxiety therapist. Sherman Counseling provides affordable anxiety treatment in Wisconsin, and we have several locations for your convenience. Give us a call at 920-733-2065 to learn more.
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Dont Compare Normal Stress And Fear To Panic
Maybe youve felt stressed or terrified in a dangerous situation. You might even have anxiety yourself.
These experiences arent quite the same as a panic attack, though. Avoid trying to draw comparisons between your different experiences. Unless you also get panic attacks, you probably dont entirely understand how they feel.
If you have experienced extreme fear, let that memory inform you on what your friend is going through. Remind yourself they arent just afraid or stressed.
They may also feel:
- unable to manage whats happening
- physical pain or discomfort
Most People Make These 3 Mistakes During A Panic Attack
Your heart is racing, youre sweating, and you feel as if you have a heart attack. Youre sure that this is the end, as the feeling of impending doom is making you dizzy. You struggle to catch your breath, and you feel as if something is sitting on your chest. Are you having a heart attack or panic?
Its really challenging to know whether your body is responding to extreme anxiety or if its going into cardiac arrest. According to the University of Michigan medical newsletter, Heart Health, a heart attack has pain that radiates from the chest to other areas. In contrast, panic produces stabbing pains in one location. Additionally, the pain with panic only lasts for a few seconds, whereas cardiac arrest brings unrelenting discomfort.
Still, if this is your first anxiety attack, its hard to distinguish between the two. Thankfully, emergency rooms can quickly tell the difference by doing some blood work and an EKG. What you do during a panic attack can mean everything. You can make things much worse or learn to control the symptoms and de-escalate the situation quickly.
According to medical expert Micah Abraham of The Calm Clinic, it takes about thirty minutes for a person to recover from a panic attack fully. However, the actual attack may last only a few minutes. It takes time for the body to return to normal, mainly involving rebalancing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
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Break Things Theyre Scared Of Into Steps
Whatever theyre trying to do whether its going to the cinema, or even walking down the street break the scariness down into small steps.
If they once had a panic attack in a shop and refuse to go back there, take them to the shop and just sit outside, says Julie. Creep closer each time and keep pausing to let their fight or flight system resettle.
How Do You Know If It’s A Panic Attack
It can be useful to learn anxiety attack warning signs if you’re unfamiliar with them. That way you can be prepared for when someone develops an episode. Panic attacks commonly begin with:
- hyperventilation and/or shortness of breath
- tingling in hands or feet
- chest/arm pain
- dry mouth
However, as all of these symptoms could also suggest a possible heart attack, this can sometimes increase the anxiety of the person having the panic attack and also add to confusion about the best way you can help. I’ll discuss when to call for medical assistance later, but one key point to remember is that with;a heart attack chest pain usually continues to get worse and/or;radiates to someone’s;arm or jaw.;
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What Is Grounding And Why It Works
The concept grounding was developed by Alexander Lowen and it is based on the interaction of the body and mind.
The term grounding is related to the word ground which is literally defined by the Oxford Dictionaries as the solid surface of the earth.
Following this concept, Lowen proposes that we are physically, emotionally and energetically grounded to the earth where all energy seems to find a way back into the earth.;
It makes sense then when people use the expression having your feet on the ground.
Having your feet on the ground is what Lowen considered making us feel grounded to the earth.;
Moreover, as Dr. Sarah Allen suggests Grounding basically means to bring your focus to what is happening to you physically, either in your body or in your surroundings, instead of being trapped by the thoughts in your mind that are causing you to feel anxious. It helps you stay in the present moment instead of worrying about things that may happen in the future or events that have already happened but you still find yourself going over and over them in your head.
When we are experiencing stress and anxiety, the amygdala, which in general terms is the part of the brain that is in charge of emotional responses gets activated.
We know that it is involved in our flight or fight response when we face dangerous or threatening situations.
However, as it is the case of panic attacks, the amygdala hyper activates detecting a threat when there is no real threat.;
What Is Panic Disorder
If you’re having lots of panic attacks at unpredictable times and there doesn’t seem to be a particular trigger or cause, you might be given a diagnosis of panic disorder. It’s common to experience panic disorder and certain types of phobia together. People who experience panic disorder may have some periods with few or no panic attacks, but have lots at other times.
Panic disorder and high sensitivity
Some research suggests that people who have panic disorder might be very sensitive to sensory experiences , but there’s not enough evidence yet to say for sure.
Also it’s not clear whether having a high level of sensitivity to these sorts of things is something that might cause you to develop panic disorder, or whether it may be an effect of having it.
“Never knowing when I was going to have a panic attack was the worst feeling in the world.”
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The 54321 Ground Method For Anxiety Attacks
The most common grounding technique for anxiety attacks is the 54321 method. In this, you identify
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can feel
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Taste is sometimes hard to identify, so you could substitute that by thinking of your favorite thing to taste. Some versions of the 54321 grounding method say to name one thing you like about yourself. Regardless of how you approach this, the goal is to identify elements in the world around you. As your mind begins to focus on these things, it will be less focused on the sudden rush of anxiety. This will help slow your heart rate, control your breathing, and make you feel better overall.
Understand Their Panic May Not Make Sense To You Or Them
Panic attacks can be confusing as well as scary. People generally cant predict them and theres often no clear cause. They can happen in stressful situations but also during calm moments or even during sleep.
It might seem helpful to tell your friend theres nothing to be afraid of. But theyre probably perfectly aware theres no actual threat.
Thats part of what makes panic attacks so confusing. The reaction matches a fear response but nothings happening to cause that fear. In response, someone who gets panic attacks might begin to fear the symptoms themselves, or link them to a serious health issue.
Its typical to feel embarrassed or ashamed of such an intense reaction, Bingham explains. But having a trusted companion offer compassion can allow space for the person to return to baseline.
You can be that person even without understanding why they get panic attacks. Thats far less important than your ability to offer empathy and recognize their distress as real and significant.
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Touch And Describe An Object
Find an object around you e.g. cushion, handbag, water bottle.
Try to describe it as if you are explaining it to someone who has never seen it before. e.g.
This is a cushion, it is a square shape with a red and purple pattern of stripesit feels soft with some hard ridges around the corners
Repeat until you feel calm.
Understand: Panic Attacks Are Not Dangerous
Its important to keep reminding yourself that panic attacks are not dangerous. Yes, the body does some strange things, and it might even feel as though youre experiencing a heart attack, however, thats not actually the case. Your body is just responding to perceived danger by activating the fight-flight response. It notices that there is an emergency and it needs to make sure that you are aware and prepared to survive this encounter.
The excessive adrenaline that is pumped through your body at the time of a panic attack is what makes you feel on-edge and somewhat out of control. This is a natural and normal experience to a perceived threat. Yet, its important to remember that its only a perceived threat. You perceive things a certain way and as a result, you react accordingly. Therefore, it would make sense that if you perceived things another way, that you would react differently.
If you do end up experiencing a panic attack, keep in mind that they tend to come and go in short bursts. Therefore, its important to feel secure in the fact that experiencing panic is natural, normal, not dangerous, and wont last very long.
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Stay Calm And Centered
At times in order to stay calm and centered, it is helpful to do some controlled and proactive movements. This could mean going for a quick jog, jumping on the spot, doing some light stretches, or engaging in Yoga poses. It matters little what you do, as long as you engage your body in some way that helps break the pattern of your panic attack.
Once your body has been freed up to move in its own way, your mind will also be freed up and be more willing to let go of the emotions that were previously tying it down. Remember that the emotions you experience are closely tied to your physiological responses. Likewise, your physiological responses are tied to your emotions. One influences the other. Therefore, making adjustments to one will successfully influence the other. As such, when you make conscious adjustments to the way you use your body through stretching and exercise, for instance, your body should no longer feel that same emotional intensity. You are breaking the patterns, and this will help you transform your emotional experiences.
Become Mindful By Grounding Yourself
If you are struggling with the previous two suggestions, then you might find it helpful to ground yourself to something more tangible. For instance, hold an ice-cube in the palm of your hand. This will create a distraction and will help you to become more mindful of the present moment instead of getting absorbed within your emotional reactions.
Using an ice-cube is a fantastic way to ground yourself, however, ice-cubes are not always available. As an alternative suggestion, you can simply pinch yourself. The pain of pinching yourself will bring your mind back to the present moment and may very well help you calm down. Once youre calm, you will once again find that you have successfully removed yourself from your emotional experience, and can now view the situation from an observers perspective.
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