Panic attacks can be overwhelming and painful. Here are some effective strategies you can employ to take back control and cope.
A panic attack occurs as a sudden attack of fear and anxiety and can last several minutes. It often occurs without warning and can be accompanied by a variety of physical symptoms, including increased heart rate, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, tremors, and a feeling of impending doom. Panic attacks are painful, but they are not life-threatening and can be managed.
Here are some tips to overcome panic attacks.
1. Practice deep breathing
Deep, slow breathing is a powerful tool for calming the nervous system. Try the 4-7-8 technique. Inhale for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, and exhale for a count of 8. Repeat several times until you feel relaxed.
2. Ground yourself
Grounding techniques help you stay rooted in the present moment. Focus on your senses: Name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
3. Challenge negative thoughts
Panic attacks often involve irrational and catastrophic thinking. Challenge these thoughts by asking yourself if there is evidence to support them. In many cases, this is not the case.
4. Gradual muscle relaxation
Reduce tension in your body by tensing and relaxing muscle groups one at a time. It’s best to start from your toes and work your way toward your head.
5. Use positive affirmations
Make a list of positive statements and affirmations, such as “I’m safe” or “This is going to be okay.” Repeat these words to yourself during a panic attack to counter negative thoughts.
6. Visualize a calm place
Close your eyes and imagine a safe and relaxing place. Notice the details of this place: the colors, the sounds, the sensations. This will help distract your mind from panic.
7. Stay in the moment
Try not to think too far ahead or dwell on the past. Instead, focus on the present moment and what you need to do to stay safe and calm.
8. Stay hydrated and avoid irritants
Dehydration and stimulants like caffeine and nicotine can make anxiety worse. Drink water and avoid these substances, especially when stress is high.
9. Contact support
Share your feelings with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist. Talking to someone you trust can give you peace of mind.
10. Self-care and regular exercise
Prioritize self-care practices like getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, and regular physical activity. Exercise reduces overall anxiety levels.
11. Practice mindfulness and meditation
Mindfulness techniques and meditation can help you stay grounded and reduce the severity and frequency of panic attacks over time.
12. Seek professional help
If you have recurring panic attacks, consider seeing a mental health professional. These provide tools and strategies to effectively manage and overcome them.
Panic attacks can be painful, but with these simple tips and techniques you can take back control over them. If your panic attacks persist or are seriously impacting your life, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. With the right support and tools, you can overcome panic attacks and live a calmer, more fulfilling life.