Anxiety is something all of us experience to some degree at some point in our lives. Anxiety attacks are an indicator of higher levels of stress and anxiety in a person and they can be extremely scary. But if you teach yourself how to manage the feelings, you should be able to prevent attacks from occurring in the future.
Calming down from a panic attack may not seem possible at the time, but there are effective tools you can learn to use in order to diminish the terrible feelings you experience during an attack.
How to Stop a Panic Attack
- Breathe: During a panic attack, you may find yourself hyperventilating. Hold your breath for a couple of seconds to stop the feeling that you’re suffocating. After this, breath slowly and hold one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Inhale through your nose, hold your breath for another three or four seconds and then exhale through your mouth. After a few minutes of doing this, you’ll notice you’re thinking more clearly and your muscles are becoming more relaxed.
- Focus on Your Senses: While suffering a panic attack, your mind gets flooded with thoughts and your body goes into overdrive. Mentally "talk" to yourself about what you’re experiencing and remind yourself that the symptoms are due to the panic attack. You will be okay! Remind yourself that what you’re feeling is temporary and will eventually pass. After a while, your brain will realize the situation is not dangerous.
- Create Cognitive Diversions: Distracting yourself while experiencing a panic attack can prove to be a great help. Sing your favorite song, count backwards from 50 in threes, name all the presidents or recite a poem. It is vital that you do not leave the area where the panic attack is occurring. Otherwise, your brain will associate that place with fear. Instead, stay where you are and wait until the attack passes.
- Practice Muscle Relaxation: Start by tensing and then relaxing each muscle group in your body. By doing this, you can divert your focus from the fear you’re experiencing onto what you are doing at that particular moment. Plus, you’re relaxing your muscles at the same time. Always start off with the muscles in your face and then move downwards until all the muscles in your body are relaxed. Tense each muscle group for between six and 10 seconds. Then, relax them for the same amount of time. You can do this more than once for each muscle group depending on the severity of your attack, but once per muscle group is usually enough to start calming you down.
The 10-Second Summary: How to Deal with Panic Attacks
- Breath in for five seconds, hold your breath for three seconds and exhale for five more.
- Focus on what you hear, smell, see, feel and taste.
- Distract yourself from the feelings.
- Tense and relax each muscle group for six to 10 seconds.
- Visualize something that relaxes you and focus deeply on the specific details.
- Do something productive — take a walk, draw a picture, etc.
It’s definitely possible to get rid of or at least reduce the feelings you experience while having anxiety attacks. The trick is to want to set yourself free from this prison your mind sometimes holds you in.
Imagine never having feelings that you’re suffocating or that your heart is going to stop at any moment. Picture yourself being unafraid of doing things that may have once triggered anxiety attacks That’s the goal, and you can do it! Focus for yourself.
Contact Brookhaven Retreat today and discover how we can help you incorporate these tools into your life as a complete plan for dealing with anxiety attacks and any other related mental health disorders.