Six ways to calm down during a panic attack
Updated: Apr 26, 2019
If you have ever had a panic attack, you likely already know that there are few things worse than one of these episodes. Not only does it feel like your body is in battle with your mind, but it also doesn’t help that there is nothing that can make you feel more alone than a panic attack. As your panic continues, your body will go into fight or flight mode, which will leave your mind continuously running and you also likely feel like you are drowning slowly unable to get out from under the weight of your anxiety.
While this is an absolutely horrifying experience, you need to remember that you have the ability to control your panic attacks. In order to do this, you need to know the proper way to react once you start experiencing the initial signs of a panic attack. Continue reading below to learn more about how you can better control your reaction to panic attacks so that they do not progress as far as they normally do.
Know How To Recognize When You Are Having A Panic Attack
While this might sound like a strange tip considering it would be nearly impossible to not know you were having a panic attack, it is actually extremely important. Much of the time, people don’t realize they are having a panic attack until all of the symptoms are already active. However, if you can identify signs like heart palpitations, sweaty palms, quickened breath or chest pains, as soon as they begin, you can calm yourself down much more quickly and efficiently.
Much of the time, people’s panic attacks get out of control very fast because, on top of the anxiety they are already feeling, they start to freak out about the fact that they are having a panic attack. The good news is, rather than freaking out that you are experiencing panic, you can instead calmly access the situation and establish control over your anxiety. Once you know you have the power to stop panic attacks, they won’t seem as threatening as you will be able to soothe yourself anytime you begin to get worked up.
Take Deep Breaths
This is by far the most effective technique for overcoming a panic attack regardless of the circumstances. We know that this sounds super simple, but for anyone who has ever had a panic attack, the desire to breathe deeply does not always mean they have the ability to. This means if you want to be able to do this, you are going to have to practice often. You want to start slow initially as to get used to this method. We would suggest that you start by practicing before bed each night for just ten minutes. Take long deep breaths and focus with each one. Imagine that with each exhale you are releasing your fear, your worries, your anxiety. Once your body gets used to this practice, it will be able to return to it should you experience a panic attack.
Another helpful way you can manage panic attacks is to know how to properly ground yourself. When you know how to do this, you can rationalize your brain, rather than fight it when you begin to overthink. One of the most important parts of grounding yourself is being able to have something to brace yourself with. This means you need to make sure that you can put your feet on the ground flat, or that you can lean against a wall, or grasp your steering wheel when you feel yourself beginning to panic. This will give you something else to focus on besides the endless thoughts that are rushing through your brain. You can also try to use your other senses besides just touch to bring you out of your panic. Many people find that simply speaking out loud works to distract them from their anxiety when it is really acting up. For others, focusing on a smell or a taste can have a similar effect.
Affirmative phrases can often be very helpful for people who are struggling with anxiety. Instead of focusing on all of the negative thoughts that are in your head, you can return to your affirmations and soothe yourself with them. Telling yourself something as simple as “I can do this,” or “This is just a panic attack. I’ve gotten through worse,” can truly convince your body that your panic attack symptoms are unnecessary.
Get Some Fresh Air
One of the simplest and most common ways people control their anxiety is just by stepping away every once in a while in order to get some air. It is completely common for someone to step out to take a breather and this is a far better method than slowly trying to control a panic attack in a room full of people.
Step outside and supply yourself with a steady flow of oxygen. This will help you to take some deep soothing breaths, leading to you becoming calmer.
Use The AWARE Technique
If you are not sure what the AWARE technique is, allow us to explain it to you as this is one of the most common ways people control their anxiety symptoms.
This is the process of:
A – Accepting your panic attack symptoms
W – Watching your attack, as if you were someone else looking in
A – Acting like nothing is happening
R – Repeating these steps until you calm down
E – Expecting the best by eliminating negative thinking
Accepting your panic attacks allow you to be in control rather than letting your fear control you. These steps allow you to roll with the punches until your panic subsides.
Always keep in mind...
Step number one in dealing with a mental health issue is reaching out for professional help (Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Therapist, etc.).
The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only.
It is not for diagnosing, prognosticating, treatment or prescribing of mental health conditions.
For the treatment of any mental health condition or disease, or drug therapy, please consult your physician or other healthcare providers.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis please call 911 or visit your hospital immediately.
When you’re in a place in your life where you can make positive changes, the techniques Jeremy delivers on this website, in his presentations and in his books may help.