5 Tips to Help Ease a Panic Attack

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a panic attack is defined as “the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes.” Most panic attacks are accompanied by at least a couple of the following symptoms; heart palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking. You can also experience sensations of shortness of breath or a smothering feeling. In short, panic attacks suck so here are some tips and tricks to either avoid one or help lessen it while it’s happening.

1. Breathe. I know this seems obvious but taking deep and even breaths will calm your body. A panic attack is triggered by our body’s fight or flight reflex which means that your body is preparing itself for strenuous physical activity. The most common way it does this is to flood your body with adrenaline causing the racing heart and accelerated breathing or hyperventilating. Therefore taking deep breaths slows down your heart rate which lets your body know that you aren’t running.

2. Talk it out. Every panic attack has a trigger and if you can figure out what it is and resolve the issue, you’ll feel better. Needless to say it’s better to talk things out with another person because in a panicked state you’re not exactly thinking as rationally as you normally would. So talk through possible triggers with someone else and try to either do something to resolve the problem or make a solid plan to.

3. Distract yourself. Do something that will take your mind off of the panic. If you feel a panic attack coming on, start doing something immediately to take your mind off it so the panic can’t take full effect. Play a board game (or video game), write, paint, clean, exercise etc. Listen to music and focus on the lyrics, or read a beloved book. Focus your mind on something mundane and soon enough you’ll have left the panic behind.

4. Have a mantra. A mantra will help you breathe through it. Pick something positive and inspiring to get you through the panic. Remind yourself that panic attacks don’t last forever and eventually you are going to feel better. Remember that you are in control of your body.

5. Visualize. Imagine breathing calm feelings in with your breath and releasing the panicky ones with your outward breath. Visualize a color as those feelings and breath the calm in and the panic out. And just remember, you got this.

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