Next week (March 9th) is ‘World Panic Day’- a day aiming to highlight how this overwhelming feeling of anxiety can lead to sad, difficult and frightening thoughts and why it is so important to support people in staying calm during stressful situations. Yet, modern days lives can make it extremely difficult to remain calm even when suppressed emotions cause major freak outs and in some cases, nervous breakdowns.
So if you are struggling to handle panic, or are regularly experiencing panic attacks, what steps can you take to help control the issue? Follow these five top tips below…
1) Learn to control your breath
As well as other symptoms such as sweating, feeling nauseous and heart palpitations, those experiencing a panic attack often hyperventilate. When struggling to breathe feelings of dizziness, disorientation and chest pains often follow. For these reasons, one of the most effective techniques to feel more in control during an attack is to learn to slow your breathing down. By establishing a rhythm of breathing in for three seconds, holding your breath for two seconds, and then breathing out for three seconds you can help stop the panic cycle and the uncomfortable symptoms that follow it.
2) Focus on something positive
A panic attack is often triggered by thoughts or fear of a disaster, death or other negative situation we are unable to control. Instead of focusing on these, try and switch your concentration to something comforting such as a place you have felt relaxed or a situation where you feel most comfortable. Concentrate on retaining this image in your mind and you should find you are distracted from those negative thoughts and your mind can silence or at least quieten the voices in your head that reflect fear and anxiety.
3) Don’t try and prevent it
This may sound strange advice, but expectance is a key process in learning to deal with panic. Rather than try and fight it, try and pause and remember that although it feels awful right now, it will pass. Often acknowledging the panic attack is a brief period of concentrated anxiety that does have an endpoint, can help a person visualize a way to get through it. This is just as important to remember whether it is your first panic attack or a regular occurrence.
4) identify patterns/watch out for triggers
It is helpful to keep a record of what causes your panic attacks. Do they happen at a similar time every day? Are they in the same environment? Are they triggered by a similar event such as crowds or enclosed spaces? If you can identify what causes an attack you may be able to avoid certain anxiety-inducing situations or at least help reduce the frequency and intensity of the attacks.
5) Speak out
Just as ‘World Panic Day’ aims to raise awareness of the severity of panic attacks, it also hopes to encourage those struggling to speak out and not be afraid to ask for help. This is especially important if your panic attacks regularly occur in a similar environment where other people are involved such as at work or school. By informing others of the situation, they are better equipped to help when an attack does arise. Similarly, if an attack happens in public and you are able to tell someone, they might be able to get you away from crowds and enclosed spaces which are often triggering, and find a quiet spot where you can focus on your breath and thoughts without too much noise and attention.
Anxiety Disorders including panic attacks can be effectively treated through psychotherapy and CBT. Our Choices Personalized Retreats Program uses an evidence-based approach to teach a person to think, behave and feel differently towards anxiety-provoking situations. Find out more about our treatment methods here: https://www.choicesretreats.com/anxiety/