Having a panic attack can be one of the most frightening experiences someone will ever endure. The feelings of fear, anxiety and helplessness are beyond comprehension for many people. The first time you experience a panic attack it can seem like your life is over. There are some simple steps that you can take to help you get through this.
Breathe slowly and deeply.
This is an obvious one, but it works — just try it! Focus on your breathing and focus on something positive and calming. If possible, move to a safe place and find a seat where you can sit quietly until the feeling passes. This may take 10 minutes or longer. Don’t fight the feeling — accept it for what it is, let it pass over you, and do your best not to judge yourself for it.
Visualize a safe place or object in your mind’s eye when you’re having a panic attack.
It could be somewhere you love to go like the beach or a calming place like your living room couch under a blanket on a rainy day reading a book or watching TV with your pet cuddled up beside you. For others it may be something else that gives them comfort like their child’s picture or holding onto their grandmother’s ring while breathing deeply and thinking of what makes them feel safe and relaxed.
Take off your shoes
“Push your feet into the ground and feel the pressure of your feet on the ground. You can even remove your shoes (if able) and notice the sensations of the floor underneath you. Activating these sensations helps to bring your awareness to your body and out of your mind,” explains therapist Eric Strom.
What are Panic Attacks?
A panic attack is an intense feeling of fear or apprehension, often accompanied by physical symptoms. Panic attacks usually happen suddenly, reaching their peak within 10 minutes, but they may last much longer. Panic attacks are not dangerous physically. However, they are mentally exhausting and can cause irrational behavior to occur.