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Panic attacks can be quite scary for people who suffer through them. An actual attack can make you feel like you are having a heart attack. You can feel like your chest is squeezing the life out of you, and you can have a hard time catching a breath. You may feel lightheaded and like you will pass out. I know as I have been the victim of them for many years. There are things you can do to help lessen the blow. Below are seven tips to help you get through an attack when it is occurring. All these tips will also help you if you are just feeling generalized anxiety too, so try them out.
1. Watch Something Funny on TV and Laugh
Laughter is very well-known to cause your blood pressure to drop and lower stress and anxiety. When you laugh, you will take in more oxygen, which will relax your muscles and decrease the tension that fear creates.
Genuine laughter, not the forced kind, will make you feel happy and have a general feeling of well-being. Surrounding yourself with funny people all the time may help you lessen the severity of panic attacks. I like to watch funny YouTube videos or sitcoms for this type of release.
2. Listen to Your Favorite Music
The right music will have you singing along and feeling happy. No one type of music will do this for everyone. You must pick your favorite artists or tunes. Anything that will make you joyful and feeling good.
Just like laughter, this will loosen your muscles and relax you. So, do not be afraid to belt out that song as you mean it. I have always enjoyed this method. Singing just makes me feel so good. If you do not like to sing, listening to happy, upbeat songs works just as well.
3. Take a Walk
Walking is my favorite thing to do. When suffering anxiety or panic attacks, this is my go-to method for relieving the tension. When possible, walking outside is best as the fresh air and sunshine will make the walk more pleasurable.
Even if the weather is terrible or you cannot get out, a quick walk around the building will center you and take away some of the feelings. I used to work in a rather large building, and when anxiety would hit, I would get up and walk around. I found it helped to calm me.
4. Breathe Deeply
Several breathing techniques are out there that will help you control your anxiety. The one I use the most as it works for me is to inhale deeply through your nose while keeping your body as relaxed as possible. Then exhale through your mouth as long as possible to get all the air out. Repeat this as often as needed. With each repetition, allow your body to relax further and further. This method is useful for anyone who may not be able to get up and walk. Easy to do also.
Another way to do this that might be easier since you count the breaths is called 4-7-8. You inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. I also need to stress that you need to breathe deep down into your lower abdomen. Hold your hand on your belly button, and if your hand lifts with each breath, you are doing this correctly.
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5. Talk to Someone
The act of talking to someone can help to relax and get your mind off whatever may be causing your anxiety in the first place. If you have someone who can make you laugh, all the better. I used to have horrible panic attacks in line at the grocery store. My therapist told me I should strike up a conversation about anything with someone else nearby when I would feel anxiety coming on.
I was not super comfortable doing this as I am not a particularly good conversationalist. Still, I tried it one time, and it surprisingly worked. It helps to direct your attention to something else. I use this method on occasion when needed.
6. Mindfulness Meditation
The practice of meditation can reduce anxiety and stress. However, this is something that you should practice regularly before your panic attack happens. If you initially try this when you are in the throes of anxiety, you will probably fail. Mindfulness involves being in the moment.
Sit and while practicing your breathing, acknowledge your anxiety attack. Do not try to fight it away as this could cause more stressful feelings. Just know that it is there and part of you. Also, think about where you are and what you are doing. If your mind wanders, just calmly bring yourself back to the present. Look at your anxiety as a false alarm. The feeling is there, but do not let it take hold. Continue breathing deeply throughout this.
You do not have a time limit on this. Do it for however long you need or can. It does work, especially with practice over time.
7. Splash Cold Water on Your Face
Cold water is traditionally used to wake a person up. However, the cold and wet of this method will make your body move blood from the outer surface to your innards to preserve heat. In turn, your brain is bathed in new blood, and this can shock you out of the panic attack. I
have not tried this method yet, but it may be worth looking into if you have cold water available. It is simple and easy to do.
These tips are great ones for getting over a panic attack. Everyone is different, so some may work better for you than others. You have nothing to lose by trying these methods as they are all relatively easy and do not require a lot of time or effort. They could help to lessen the impact of your attacks though. As someone who has suffered off and on for years, I know how bad they can make your life.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Linda Courtney (author) from Bloomsburg, PA on May 19, 2020:
Thanks for your comment Cheryl. I've never tried the splashing water either, but it makes sense that it might work.
Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on May 19, 2020:
I've had panic attacks for decades. I've utilized some of the things you shared. I did not know about splashing water. Thank you.