Preparing For A Panic Attack

Ever have that feeling, your heart feels like it’s about to come out of your chest, you can’t fully breathe, can’t find a way to calm yourself down, you’re just in the state of trying to find something and nothing really helps because you’re in a state of panic. That right there is part of experiencing a panic attack and it’s not anything nice. I’ve had a few and its an unexplainable sudden, intense feeling and if I knew then what I know now, I think I could have handled it a bit differently. Before I get into ways to manage a panic attack,  a few other symptoms to be aware of:

    • Palpitations, pounding heart, accelerated heart rate
    • Sweating 
    • Shortness of breath or smothering 
    • Fear or losing control 
    • Numbness or tingling sensations 

Reading this article, shows a bit of how we can interpret a panic attack and how it worsens, by the way we perceive the occurrence of certain bodily sensations that are normal responses when we’re anxious. So basically we get triggered (perceived threat), then a feeling of uneasiness comes over us or we think something not so great will occur (apprehension), then we experience certain bodily sensations and lastly if we think of these sensations as catastrophic enough, then that feeling of uneasiness worsens and really we continue in this cycle of panic that we at times can’t break from. It can literally feel like eternity before you’re able to calm down, especially without a plan to manage it.  

As you can see, it starts with how we interpret things and that’s something to be aware of. The awareness of your self-talk in these moments, is key. So, instead of asking,  “Why is this happening to me?”,  the question to focus on is, “What can I do right now to manage this situation?”

Figure out how to manage what you’re feeling in this moment because the focus is getting you back to equilibrium and if your cycling through, whats occurring with you, the fear you have, it’s not going to get you anywhere but still in this moment of anxious thoughts. You have to know that you will be ok, that this moment will pass, even though a bit uncomfortable it will go away, with some planning. 

Preparing for your Panic Attacks

    • Get as low to the ground as possible, sit, lay down, pull over if you’re driving, the point is to stop in the moment and in some way gain some control over whats happening. Grounding techniques work well during this time. 
    • Have a panic attack action plan around that you can utilize, including who to call, what techniques will work, steps that you can take in these moments, as well as any triggers that you’re aware of. Having this somewhere you see often or going over it consistently can be helpful to reach for, when you experience another attack. Keep it as a notecard if you find that helpful.
    • Keep a good space around you. This is not a time that you may want to be touched even if someone is trying to be helpful, let them know this is what you may need in this moment. Just their presence is good enough.
    • Try a body scan if you can, moving through each area to create some relaxation for yourself.
    • Focus on controlling your breathing
    • Make a coping skills box for your anxiety, including things that help with relaxation. Once you have this, find something in your coping skills box that can help bring you down a bit from where you’re at, a nice lavender scent, a stress ball, a picture of something that you enjoy, etc. 
    • Listen to music
    • Be aware of where you’re at, try to stay in the moment and don’t let your mind take you off into more anxiety. Focus on what you can manage in this moment, is it your thoughts, is it your breathing, it could simply be trying to focus on an object in the space you’re in,  to help calm your thoughts down. Maybe describe simple things you notice about this object, its color, shape, smell, etc.
    • Be still, no need to move around, that could make things worse, just be still and focus on a few of the suggestions above on healthy ways to try to calm down. 

Your management of things that occur in your life starts with how important it is for you to overcome it. The cause of our panic at times can be unexplainable but you owe it to yourself to take control of this aspect of your life. Find the tools that work for you, learn them, repeat them, allow them to evolve to find a base of techniques to help with how you manage a panic attack.

Thanks for reading.


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