15 Ways to Stop a Panic Attack
Everyone experiences at some point panic attacks. In these frantic moments, it is difficult to control the fear and desperate to know ways to stop a panic attack. Panic attacks are short periods of intense fear or anxiety that may seem very real though they aren’t.
They can be so severe that you feel like you’re losing control, having heart pain, having trouble breathing, all sight and sounds seem far away, etc… Sometimes they can even cause chest pain similar to what you’d experience if you were having a heart attack. The good news is that there are ways to stop a panic attack.
Here are 12 ways:
1) Exhale-Exhaling brings more oxygen into your system. If you’re in the middle of an episode, take a deep breath and exhale. Do this repeatedly until you feel your heart rate slow down a bit.
2) Utilize the four-seven-eight breathing technique:
To use this technique, inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. Repeat several times. The more oxygen you provide to your brain, the less frightening the symptoms of panic will become.
3) Focus on something outside yourself:
When you find yourself in the middle of a panic attack it is easy to get wrapped up in what you are feeling inside. This often causes people to focus solely on their internal feelings that may be spinning out of control at that time.
Instead try focusing on something external like looking at a clock, watching the storm outside, or even the person beside you. By shifting your attention away from yourself you are changing your focus away from what is causing panic to arise.
4) Distract yourself:
Taking time for self-soothing can be extremely helpful when in the middle of a panic attack. One way to do this is by distracting yourself with something that engages all five of your senses. This could include activities like eating dark chocolate, listening to music, exercising, etc…
5) Take deep breaths:
When experiencing panic it’s important to remember that our bodies need oxygen just like any other part of our body or organ. By taking deep breaths into your belly instead of into your chest you will help your body receive more oxygen. This ultimately will slow your heart rate and help you feel better.
6) Play some calming music:
Music is very powerful and can be a great way to shift your mood. During a panic attack, the mind may begin racing, which makes it difficult for you to calm yourself down. Many people find that listening to soothing music or nature sounds can quickly re-focus their minds on something other than what they were previously thinking about.
7) Keep your focus on the present:
By focusing your attention on current events, problems, or surroundings you are less likely to feed into the false fear that is causing panic.
8) Stand up and move around:
When experiencing a panic attack it can be difficult to sit still. Try doing some stretches, rolling your neck, squeezing a stress ball, shaking out your arms and legs, etc… These movements will help activate parts of your body that feel frozen during an episode and would otherwise remain dormant.
9) Avoid caffeine:
Caffeine can often make it more difficult for someone who is already feeling anxious or nervous to calm down. It’s best for those who suffer from panic to avoid caffeine as much as possible when in the middle of an episode.
10) Ask yourself if you’re having a panic attack:
Panic attacks can be so intense and scary that many people begin to believe they may be dying or going crazy. On top of this, differentiating between what is a panic attack and what isn’t can become extremely difficult when in the midst of one.
For this reason, it’s important to remember that if you are currently experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above it is most likely not a heart attack, stroke, or any other physical illness.
11) Practice relaxation exercises:
Relaxation exercises help relieve tension throughout your entire body which often helps slow down your heart rate during times of panic. Try tensing then relaxing your muscles from head to toe. If you can’t remember them all at first, don’t worry. The less you practice these the easier it will be for you to remember and use them during times of panic or anxiety.
12) Focus on something positive:
Our brains respond well when we replace negative thoughts with positive ones. During a panic attack, this is especially important as our minds begin racing and fixating on fearful thoughts that often cause us to feel more anxious than before. So next time you find yourself worrying about what might happen, try thinking of one thing that has gone right that day instead.
13) Call someone who makes you feel safe:
When we are feeling afraid we want nothing more than for those feelings to go away. This often leads to calling or texting people we believe will make us feel less anxious, and in turn help calm us down.
While this may work for some, others find that even talking to certain loved ones can cause them to panic more as their feelings of fear intensify. That’s not to say you should avoid these people altogether; perhaps try calling someone that makes you feel safe but isn’t the first person that comes to mind when you’re feeling shaken up.
14) Try grounding:
Grounding is a simple activity designed to bring your focus back into the present moment and away from frightening thoughts about what might be happening. Grounding helps remove any attention from your heart so you can begin feeling better and start focusing on how your body feels right now.
Try closing your eyes and putting one hand on your chest, stomach, or even legs, and notice how they feel. For more grounding techniques that are designed to work specifically with panic attacks click here.
15) Focus on the breath:
This is My favorite way of coping with anxiety. Focusing on slow deep breaths is one of the most natural ways to relax when feeling nervous or panicked. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have time to sit down quietly for ten minutes-inhaling deep through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth can be just as effective.
If you’re looking for breathing exercises online this site offers some great examples. It’s always good practice to regularly practice slowing down your breathing so that it becomes easier to focus on during times of distress.