Panic attacks are a result of intense anxiety.
A person might experience a trigger (sometimes this trigger is unknown to them) which creates a domino effect of anxious thoughts, overwhelming fear, and tension in the body. It’s not easy, but you can learn how to cope with panic attacks and eventually they won’t overwhelm you.
Here are 8 tips for coping with panic attacks:
Tell yourself that what you’re experiencing is not harmful
Although the way your body responds to the anxiety and fear is incredibly uncomfortable, it is not harmful. In fact, it is the natural fight or flight response of the body and the brain when faced with stress. The way your body is responding in a panic attack doesn’t mean that you have a serious illness or that you’re going to die. Keep that in mind the next time you feel a panic attack coming on.
Try not to add frightening thoughts to what you’re already thinking
When you are in the middle of a panic attack, your thoughts might only continue to add to the anxious moment. If you can stop yourself from thinking in frightening or stressful ways, you might be able to turn a panic attack around.
Notice what’s happening in your environment now
Often a panic attack comes on and continues based upon what you think is going to happen. The dread of impending danger or the intense fear of expecting something to happen only makes the panic attack worse. Notice what’s happening around you in order to help yourself calm down.
Wait for the fear to pass
Tell yourself that the fear will soon be over. You’ve likely had a panic attack in the past, and you know that it doesn’t last forever. While you’re in the middle of an attack, let yourself know that it’s going to pass. This experience of anxiety and fear is going to soon stop.
Put your attention on what happens when the attack fades
You may notice that your head has stopped pounding hard. You may notice that you’re feeling better and that you’re starting to relax. It’s important to take note of your experience as you calm down and regain control of your experience. Doing this gives more energy to calming down versus the tension of gearing up for an attack.
Look at attacks as an opportunity to grow
It may take time to get here. But each time you have an attack, you can see it as an opportunity to get stronger. You can tell yourself that you’re willing to face your fear and that you’re making progress each day. Notice any progress you make such as feeling less and less fear with each attack.
Notice what worked
During an attack, perhaps you put your attention on the present moment and your environment instead of feeding the anxious thoughts. Perhaps you told yourself that you’re getting better. Each time you have an attack notice what worked and what didn’t in order to continue to make progress each time.
Plan for the next attack
Have a plan for what you’d like to do the next time you have a panic attack. Perhaps you want to try to breathe more slowly. Perhaps you want to visualize yourself in a safe place. To help yourself in the future, think about what you’d like to do during the next attack.
These are suggestions for facing panic attacks. With these tips, you can slowly make progress until panic attacks are no longer an overwhelming experience.
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Vantage Point Recovery is a lifestyle management and recovery center in Thousand Oaks. We share mental health tips and other helpful information on the Vantage Point Recovery Blog. If you need help or support mental health awareness, please connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.