Tips For Getting Through a Panic Attack
Alerting my boyfriend of an oncoming attack calms me down
Having gone through a period of intense and increasing panic attacks myself, I picked up a few very effective techniques for getting through them when they occur, from professionals and my own reading. First of all, it's important to try to stay present inside your body, and feel grounded in your physical reality. It may even help to think or say "Stay here. Stay in your body" to remind you.
Some physical things that can help you do that are:
- pressing the soles of your feet into the ground and focusing on that feeling;
- tensing and relaxing your abdominal muscles and focusing on that sensation in your core;
- breathing in very slowly, until you can't get any more breath in, and then holding your breath as you count slowly to ten before releasing it. This breathing practice seems to slow my heart rate down, and repeating it several times seems to keep the attack from spiraling out of control.
Sometimes it also helps me to close my eyes. Getting rid of extra input seems to help me deal with things.
The other thing I try to do is remind myself that I'm in control. I tell myself certain things that help me not to give into the fear of the attack itself, that can sometimes make it get even worse. I tell myself things like, "Okay, I know what this is, and I'm going to get through it. It's just a panic attack, and even though it feels bad, I know it will be over soon and it won't hurt me. I've had them before, and I've always been fine as soon as they pass, and that's what is going to happen now too. I know how to handle this."
It also helps me a lot to be able to calmly alert someone. I used to be unable to tell anyone with me because just saying that I was having an attack made me panic even more, and yet silently suffering the terror wasn't helping either. Someone once taught me this very helpful third option. You have to talk to your friends, family, or significant others (or whomever you might spend a lot of time with) and explain this to them in advance so that they can help when the time comes, but here's how it works -
When you start having an attack, you look at the person with you and say "I'm okay." They are obviously going to see that you aren't okay, and having discussed this with them in advance, they'll know you're having an attack. When you say "I'm okay," it doesn't upset you the same way it would to say "I'm having a panic attack!", and it also allows the person with you to respond with something like, "Yes you are. You're perfectly fine." That way, you aren't going through it alone, but the dialogue you're having with your loved one isn't escalating your panic either.
My boyfriend and I have this arrangement, and it works really well. In fact sometimes, I can now maintain enough control to calmly say that I'm having an attack without feeling so frightened of it.
Listen to self hypnosis audios that can help stop your panic attacks naturally and permanently
Return to Panic Attacks Home