Dizziness, shaking, sweating, chills, numbness, shortness of breath, a pounding heart…these are a few common symptoms of a panic attack. The mind is a funny thing: while panic attacks can feel life-threatening, they almost never are.
If you experience a panic attack, it’s important to remember, first of all, that you are okay. The symptoms are temporary. Next, try these tips for reducing the severity of the symptoms that come with panic attacks.
Address HALT Triggers
We know we bring this up in almost every post, but HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) applies here, too. We are more vulnerable when our bodies need food, rest, or emotional support. If you feel a panic attack beginning, do a quick mental inventory: are you experiencing a HALT trigger? If so, prioritize addressing it. A snack, a 15-minute break, an anger-management technique, or reaching out to a supportive person may help you shorten or curb a panic attack.
It’s amazing that something so easy has such a profoundly beneficial effect. Not only does deep breathing send more oxygen to your brain to help you think; slow breathing signals to your nervous system that it’s okay to feel calm. Try this easy “box breathing” exercise not only during a panic attack but any time you feel nervous, angry, or restless.
- Inhale deeply into your belly and lungs while counting to 6.
- Hold your breath for a count of 6.
- Exhale while counting to 6, pushing the air out with your abdomen muscles.
- Count to 6 before inhaling again.
You may find yourself extending the time you practice this as your lungs and diaphragm become accustomed to the exercise, but even a few cycles of this breath can change the course of your anxiety. Another bonus? The act of rhythmic counting alone can have a calming effect.
Acknowledge the Attack
Rather than expending energy to minimize or control panic attack symptoms, it’s best to acknowledge and accept them. While unpleasant, symptoms are simply temporary reactions to stimuli from your mind. Naming them can help you more quickly understand that while a panic attack is full of discomfort, you aren’t in danger.
Focus on the Now
Many relaxation techniques share this deceptively simple concept: the past and future are often the culprits of grief, so staying in the moment can be a powerful way to alleviate stress. An easy hack to become present is to focus on your senses: name one thing each that you can see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. Then do that again, at least 5 times in a row.
Establish Healthy, Long-Term Habits
You’ll lower the overall likelihood of panic attacks by adopting healthy habits like journaling, reducing caffeine, increasing exercise, implementing daily stretching, taking time to be in nature, and participating in therapy.
Professionals at Mahajan Therapeutics are here to help you reduce anxiety to get the most out of life. Contact us to discuss solutions today.