You are getting onto a roller coaster at an amusement park. You pull the straps over your shoulders, hear the click, the car begins to move and you think… ” Oh no” ” no, No, NO!” “Get me off!”. But the car is moving and there is no going back… full speed ahead you ride it out. Up and down the dips, around the loops…
When the first sign of a panic attack hits, that is the click of the belt. Then the ride takes off and you feel like you are completely powerless to get off. You want to bolt, get off… but how?
What is happening during a Panic Attack?
Our bodies have a built-in mechanism for coping when we are in danger. We have a fabulous “alarm system” that not only signals our brain, but also prepares our bodies; some refer to this as ” fight or flight”.
During a panic attack, the body’s alarm system is triggered without there being any danger. Because the body is sending an alarm without the presence of danger, many people who suffer from panic attacks have increasing levels of fear; both of the attacks and the symptoms that accompany them. If there is no danger and someone experiences sweating and changes in heart rate, breathing, vision, and hearing, it would seem to make sense that these symptoms could be dangerous and for some the fear is that these are life-threatening.
It may be time to get in tune with your body’s triggers and take a sign from your panic attack that it is time to reassess your baseline.
With these tips, you may be able to stop a panic attack in its tracks and conquer future episodes. Here’s how:
1. Focus On Your Breathing.
It may sound simplistic, but when you are feeling panic, you tend to shorten your breaths. This can not only make panic attacks worse, but can actually induce a panic attack. When you are in the throes of a panic attack, stop, close your eyes and focus on lengthening your breaths. Try a few of these exercises noted by the Calm Clinic.
2. Diet And Exercise.
By eliminating caffeine and sugar, you are stripping your body of additional stimuli. Try to replace your sugary treats with naturally sweet whole fruit and your coffee with herbal tea ( I know… easier said than done!). Also making moving your body a regular habit will help to stimulate your bodies natural defenses.
We are learning more and more everyday about just how important sleep is to our bodies optimal functioning. By making sleep a priority, you will allow your body to replenish and regroup and keep your anxiety in check.
4. Start A Mindfulness Practice.
One of your biggest allies in conquering your anxiety and panic is insight. By starting a mindfulness practice, whether it is meditation, yoga, or a daily body scan practice; gaining insight into your own state of being will not only benefit you during a panic attack, but help to manage your anxiety in the long-term.
5. Finally, Address The Anxiety That Is Underlying.
Panic Attacks are scary, but they do not have to rule your life. Find a mental health professional in your area that specializes in working with individuals utilizing evidence based treatment to conquer your anxiety and get back to living life on YOUR terms.