3 Ways to Tackle an Anxiety/Panic Attack in its Tracks
By: Jenn Moss
The feelings of anxiety and panic are no joke. They can feel overwhelming, all-encompassing, and like the feel will never surpass. When these feelings of worry and panic start to fester, they are usually coupled with the idea that you are not in a safe situation, and as a response, your fight or flight kicks in, queuing you that you may be in danger. And sometimes, as these feelings increase in intensity, it can lead to full-on panic or anxiety attacks.
When experiencing this, it may feel like your heart is beating out of your chest, your palms are sweating, it is difficult to think clearly, your sense of vision and hearing are distorted, among other not-so-great symptoms. It can be extremely scary to feel like this, especially when it seems out of the blue, sudden, and in public. These intense attacks on the body can make you feel scared, worried, and in some cases, it feels like you might even die from it. Even more so, some go to the hospital claiming they are having a heart attack, but it is confused with a panic attack — that is how serious it feels.
Here are some self-help and coping strategies you may want to implement:
1. Returning To The Breath
When feelings of worry and panic arise, usually the first thing to take a hit is your breath. You may notice that your breathing becomes shallow, and sparse as if you are unable to take in air. If you find this to be the case, perhaps you shut your eyes, put your hands on your heart, and slowly inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, and exhale for four counts. By doing so, you may notice a decrease in your heart rate, and it allows you to drop back into the body.
2. Regaining Control and Present Feelings
Often with panic/anxiety attacks, the mind is working on overdrive, and you feel that your head is spinning. A helpful tip for this is to bring your awareness back into the body, and into the space around you. Out loud, try stating what you see around you. For example, you might say, a blue lamp, a white rocking chair, a cute dog, and so on. Do not worry about feeling silly! These methods help bring your perception of your space back into focus.
3. Put on a pair of Headphones
That’s right. This tip can be a lifesaver, especially if out in public in a crowded area. Crowded places can feel loud and overwhelming with voices taking up space. Also, sounds are typically amplified when feeling anxious. By using headphones you are essentially muffling out the world around you. You can listen to calming music, a podcast, a tv show…anything that helps your mind focus and remain calm.
Anxiety and panic are some of the worst feelings out there, I know. But you should know that you are not alone in this anxiety disorders affect a staggering 40 million people in the US, over the age of 18. Although this number is alarming, the good news is that there are fantastic coping mechanisms that help counteract the stress put on the body. Anxiety is a treatable thing, and at the very least, can be managed so that you can live your life with more ease.