manage panic attacks

Calming Strategies to Use During Panic Attacks

When you’re in the middle of a panic attack, everything can feel terrifying. From the physical symptoms to the belief that something awful is about to happen, the whole experience can be frightening. In the throws of anxiety, you may feel like nothing could help.

However, several strategies can help people find some calm in the middle of panic attacks. In addition to medication, which some patients need, a few cognitive strategies can help. If you have had a panic attack before or believe you are at risk for having one, be sure to learn ways to stop the worry in its tracks.

It can be particularly helpful to write these ideas down and keep them with you. Then, if you find yourself having a panic attack, you can quickly access these strategies and put one into place.

Recognize, Understand, and Name Your Feelings

Panic attacks can convince people that something terrible is on the verge of happening. The belief that things are worse than they are in reality only makes the anxiety worse. With all of this in mind, the first step to stopping a panic attack is often recognizing it for what it is.

Instead of giving in to the thoughts that tell you that everything is terrible or will be soon, try naming your anxiety. Call it out by saying (out loud or to yourself), “That’s not true. This is my panic making me feel that way.” Simply giving it a name and knowing that it is a chemical imbalance takes some of the power out of the panic.

Get to a Comfortable Environment

During a panic attack, your senses may feel overwhelmed. Loud, busy, and bright environments can make panic attacks worse because they cause too much sensory input. Furthermore, being in crowds or in triggering situations can worsen symptoms.

Avoid these issues by getting to the most comfortable environment possible quickly. For example, you may go into your bedroom, turn off the lights, and avoid the television. If you’re at work, you can go to a private area or your office. If you’re driving when panic attacks hit, be sure to pull over in a safe place and do not drive until you can focus again.

Focus on Deep Breaths

Part of what is so scary about panic attacks is their effects on the breath and pulse. This increases the feeling that something bad is happening, which only makes the breath more shallow and contributes to an anxious cycle. Break the cycle with focused, deep breaths.

Try these steps to calm your panic attack:

  1. Breathe in through your nose for five seconds
  2. Hold for five seconds
  3. Breathe out through the mouth for five seconds
  4. Repeat for at least ten breaths

Breathing strategies work differently for everyone, so you may have to adjust this to find what works best for you.

Purposefully Relax Each Muscle

Muscle tension is one of the common characteristics of panic attacks. Reverse it by focusing on one set of muscles at a time and making a point of relaxing those. Take at least a few seconds on each area, including:

  • Feet
  • Lower legs
  • Thighs
  • Hips
  • Lower back
  • Upper back
  • Chest
  • Upper arms
  • Lower arms
  • Neck
  • Face

Spend extra time on any area that seems especially tense. This method works another way, too. By making your mind focus on the feelings in your body and relieving that stress, you don’t have time to think about whatever caused the panic attack.

When to Use These Strategies

While it’s never too late to put one of these panic attack strategies into place, you may find that starting early is the most effective way to use these methods. If you start to learn what the early stages of panic look like to you, you can start these strategies before panic sets in.

If you want to learn more about ways to handle your anxiety, contact a florida therapist today. The mental health professionals here can help you learn to calm yourself and address the underlying problems causing anxiety.