How to Cope With a Panic Attack

If you’re a person living with anxiety, ordinary situations can be extremely stressful for you. Especially if you are prone to panic attacks, you might find yourself avoiding certain places or activities. But whether or not you’ve experienced a panic attack before, it’s important to understand how to cope with one in case you do. Here are some ways to recognize and deal with its symptoms.

1. Recognize the Signs

The first step in coping with a panic attack is knowing how to recognize one when it comes. Symptoms can look different from person to person, but there are some common ones that you can look out for. First of all, it’s important to note that a panic attack is your body’s reaction to extreme anxiety. Some of these reactions can result in:

  • Irregular heartbeat or breathing
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tingling sensations in extremities
  • Hot flashes or chills

2. Identify Thoughts

Since a panic attack is a result of extreme anxiety, there are usually thoughts that are rushing through your brain at high speed and high intensity. While it might be difficult to rationalize these thoughts in the moment, it’s helpful to identify them so that you can challenge them or de-escalate them in the future. When you’re feeling calm, try to work through the thoughts you feel when you’re particularly anxious and find the truths behind them so that you learn how to control them in a positive way. If you’re experiencing a panic attack, try to simply tell yourself to “stop.” Focus on this and focus on stopping the rush of thoughts so that you can begin to feel more calm.

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3. Work Towards Relaxation

Working towards relaxation in your everyday life is a great way for coping with anxiety in general. Meditation, mindfulness, exercise and breathing are all great ways to accomplish this. When you start to feel like you are panicking however, focusing on your breathing is helpful too. This will not only pull you out of your thoughts, but it will help to soothe your body. Try taking slow, deep breaths to calm yourself down. Another way that you can relax your body (which helps to take the focus off of your thoughts) is to relieve the tension in your muscles. Be very conscious about relaxing each muscle in your body and this will help you to feel more calm as well.

4. Get Help

Of course, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. You are not alone. Find someone you trust that you can talk to or call when you feel like you are having a panic attack. Reach out to someone who is near you. In addition, be sure to contact a mental health professional who can help you develop long term strategies to cope with your anxiety. There are opportunities for recovery, not simply reactions.

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