What is a panic attack?
Panic attacks are sudden, intense surges of fear, panic, or anxiety. They are overwhelming, and they have physical as well as emotional symptoms.
Here are 11 steps to help you to try to stop a panic attack when you’re having one or you feel one coming.
- Deep breath
Focus on taking deep breaths in and out through your mouth, feeling the air slowly fill your chest and belly and then slowly leave them again. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a second, and then breathe out for a count of four:
- Recognize that you’re having a panic attack and Realize it’s JUST a panic attack, nothing worse. It WILL NOT KILL YOU.
Take away the fear that you may be dying or that impending doom is looming, both symptoms of panic attacks. This can allow you to focus on other techniques to reduce your symptoms.
- Close your eyes
To reduce the stimuli, close your eyes during your panic attack. This can block out any extra stimuli and make it easier to focus on your breathing.
- Practice mindfulness
Focus on the physical sensations you are familiar with, like digging your feet into the ground, or feeling the texture of your jeans on your hands. These specific sensations ground you firmly in reality and give you something objective to focus on.
- Find a focus object
For example, you may notice how the hand on the clock jerks when it ticks, and that it’s slightly lopsided. Describe the patterns, color, shapes, and size of the object to yourself. Focus all of your energy on this object, and your panic symptoms may subside.
- Use muscle relaxation techniques
Consciously relax one muscle at a time, starting with something simple like the fingers in your hand, and move your way up through your body.
- Picture your happy place
What’s the most relaxing place in the world that you can think of? A sunny beach with gently rolling waves?
- Engage in light exercise
Choose light exercise that’s gentle on the body, like walking or swimming.