I don’t think most people understand what it means to have a panic attack, much less how to cope with one. The first time I had a panic attack, I thought I was dying. Never did it cross my mind that anxiety could have such harsh repercussions.
A panic attack is a sudden rush of physical symptoms triggered by different situations. Not being able to understand what your body is going through in a panic attack can elevate your anxiety levels making it much worse.
Some symptoms that are common with panic attacks are: shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, lightheadedness, weakness, fatigue, sweatiness, chest pains, hot flashes, irrational fear… and the list can go on and on. Every body reacts differently to panic attacks. For example, my sister used to get this eye twitch whenever she had a panic attack due to the severe migraine she was experiencing, thankfully I never had that. But I do experience hot flashes and sudden chills, which change very rapidly, and make the anxiety levels rise even faster.
It took me years to learn how to calm myself successfully during a panic attack. I use a combination of different techniques, but truthfully there is not one equation that I can recommend that for sure will stop your panic attack. It is trial and error.
Here are some of the things I do when I experience a panic attack:
Meditate: The first time I went to a psychiatrist, she recommended an app that I have treasured like gold to this day. The app name is: Take a Break! It is a guided mediation, where a soothing voice helps you control your breathing speed and thoughts. You can download this app from any app store (apple or android). It only takes seven minutes. I never leave the house without my earphones, if I feel a panic attack starting, I just run off to the bathroom or my car and listen to this, it really helps.
Listen to music: If the meditation app is a fail. I play my spotify playlist titled “Yoga”. It has soothing music to which I try and pair my breathing to. This really controls your breathing rhythm, helping with the shortness of breath.
Practice Yoga: Why practice a physical activity? Because it engages your whole body, emotionally and physically, taking your mind off the panic attack and concentrating on your yoga practice.
Have a mantra: “Everything will be okay”, this is what I usually repeat to myself when I have a panic attack. I usually do this when I listen to music and try to clear my head of the anxiety I am feeling.
Chew gum: Simple as it sounds, chewing gum just really helps me release anxiety. I don’t know what it is about chewing gum, maybe that it takes the edge off the nausea/lightheadedness you might experience, but if you suffer from panic attacks, always have gum close to you.
Talk to someone: Talking to my mom really helps. She calms me down and lets me know everything will be okay. Talk to someone who is close to you and that you feel comfortable telling them what you are feeling. It helps you not to feel alone.
Coloring: Coloring is a very all-known technique to help release anxiety, it is therapeutic.