How to Prevent a Panic Attack
By Aline Mardirian
Whether you suffer from constant anxiety or just the occasional stressful situation, we all get panic attacks. Some just don’t know what they look like or how to identify them. While it’s true that panic attacks manifest differently for different people, there are some characteristics that are textbook symptoms like a racing heart rate, difficulty breathing, headache, shaking and feeling of, well, panic.
As someone who has suffered from panic attacks for years, I’ve compiled my list of things to do to make myself feel better whenever I feel an attack coming. It’s important to note that the list is not a one-size-fits all, but there are a few surefire ways to make anyone having a panic attack feel a little better.
1. Practice Mindful Breathing
When you’re in the middle of a panic attack, your mind is racing and you can’t really concentrate on anything. What helps is shifting all of your focus onto your breath. No matter how frantic your breathing gets, try to really feel every inhale and exhale. Associate each inhale with a positive color like yellow and imagine it filling up your lungs and your body when you breathe in. Then when you’re expelling the breath out of your body, associate it with a negative color like black. Imagine all that negative energy being released from your lungs and body. Repeat the cycle as many times as necessary.
2. Have a Prayer or Chant Prepared
When you have some spare time, try to put together a few sentences that you use as your go-to chant when you feel you’re experiencing a panic attack. It could be something as simple as “I am safe, I am calm and I am protected.” Just saying those words out loud a few times will let your subconscious mind know that you are in fact safe and will ease those feelings of panic.
3. Take a Hot Shower
As difficult as that may sound when you’re in the middle of feeling like the world is about to end, and trust me I know the feeling, one of the best things you can do is drag yourself under a hot shower. The hot water will relax your muscles which are sure to have gotten tense from the anxiety, the steam will open up your lungs making you breathe easier and the feeling of the water on your body will make you feel like you’re cleansing your body from all the negativity.
4. Call a Loved One
As generic as this sounds, hearing a few reassuring words from a loved one can make a world of difference, especially if it’s someone who knows about your situation. Hearing that you are loved and safe, without any judgment or advice, is sometimes all it takes to ease your fears and mind. Knowing that you are supported no matter how dire the situation may be is sometimes the lifeline you didn’t know you needed.
5. Turn On Your Favorite Comedy Show
At my lowest, my go-to show was Friends. I am not exaggerating when I say that show saved my life. No matter what you’re going through or how low you feel, just having something on in the background that is familiar and comfortable to you will do you more good than you realize. You will automatically feel safer and more at ease when you hear your favorite series playing. Without even realizing you will start to feel distracted and even crack a smile. Before you know it, you will have eased out of your panic attack and will be able to pick up where you left off before it happened.
No matter what method you use to ease your anxiety, it’s important to know that it WILL pass, you won’t always feel this way and your feelings are valid. Just knowing that you have your coping mechanisms will in itself make you feel more secure in your everyday life.
Have you ever dealt with a panic attack? Share your mental health tips here!