3 Things to Do During a Panic Attack
When I have a panic attack, I feel helpless and terrified. It’s difficult to know what to do during a panic attack, especially because completing even the simplest tasks feels like my head might explode. Learning to cope has been a messy process, but over time, I have gotten better at it.
What to Do During a Panic Attack
I’d like to share what has worked for me so that you can have some tools to try out the next time you spiral. Here are 3 simple ideas that have helped me survive my panic attacks.
- Focus on your breath. Because panic attacks can cause hyperventilation, slowing down and deepening your breathing is both physically and emotionally grounding. A good practice is to think of the number « 1 » as you inhale and think of the number « 2 » as you exhale. I can’t think straight until I have better control over my breath. I like to imagine breathing out badness and breathing in goodness.
- Don’t run from your emotions. My instinct is often to numb my anxiety, but that usually lengthens the duration of the panic attack. The anxiety wants to be heard, and if I don’t listen, it will make me listen. Sitting in my discomfort is, well, uncomfortable, but it works wonders in calming me down. I’m able to observe what I’m really feeling.
- Repeat affirmations to yourself. These don’t have to be anything fancy or planned ahead of time. I like to remind myself of « truths » that anxiety makes me doubt: I am loved. I am kind. I am strong. I am worthy of belonging. I repeat these aloud to myself, albeit through tears and choppy breaths, but saying them aloud reminds me that I am more than my anxiety.
Learn to Trust Yourself
I never know when a panic attack will ambush me–I could be at school, driving a car, at the grocery store, or in bed. I might not always have a friend to be there with me. Sometimes, I don’t have my phone on me and I can’t listen to my favorite music. Learning coping skills that only require myself has given me power over my anxiety. I trust myself more. And, remarkably, my panic attacks don’t feel quite as crippling as they used to.
What coping skills have you leaned on during panic attacks? What has been the most helpful for you? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!
Clawson, A. (2021, January 28). 3 Things to Do During a Panic Attack, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, January 28 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalhealthforthedigitalgeneration/2021/1/3-things-to-do-during-a-panic-attack