A panic attack is a sudden, intense surge of anxiety and fear that seems overwhelming. Panic attacks are often characterized by physical sensations such as increased heart rate, trembling, difficulty breathing, pressure in your chest, and sweating. They are often accompanied by feelings of acute fear, dread, fearing that something terrible will happen or that you will die, as well.
Research suggests that anxiety is a “fight or flight” survival response to life-threatening situations. Early humans faced these more commonly than today’s do, so this is a program ingrained into the fundamentals of human brains. Panic attacks, then, may be a contemporary response to some false narrative or perception of danger. In other words, the panic attack you have before a big work presentation is the modern response to life-threatening situations.
Fortunately, a therapist can understand the nature of this extremely unpleasant and often-debilitating issue and can help you learn coping mechanisms. Identifying the things that trigger your panic may help you feel less overwhelmed by your symptoms. Five helpful tips include:
1. Become familiar with your panic triggers
It’s beneficial to know when and why panic attacks happen in your life. Make a note of the specific symptoms you experience during a panic attack so you can recognize them in the future. Also, keep an eye on what seems to trigger the anxiety. Knowing the signs and symptoms might allow you to manage the anxiety before it escalates.
2. Keep a sensory bag
Keep a small “sensory bag” handy—in your desk, purse, or backpack. In this bag, keep a list of coping tools such as visualizations that calm you, instructions on deep breathing exercises, or any other things that may relax you. You can also add some comforting sensory items, such as a soothing and calming essential oil, such as lavender. Adding items that stimulate your tactile senses such as Play-Doh or a stress ball can help distract you and channel your energy away from a panic attack.
3. Deep breathing
Deep diaphragmatic breathing helps the body relax. Steadying your breath may ease a panic attack. Try to slow down your breathing so that you inhale for a count of three, hold for three, and exhale for three. This can ground and calm you.
4. Dive technique
Your body is designed to be alert and decisive during initial contact with cold water. This odd evolutionary tool can be used to your advantage by splashing cold water on your face at the start of or during a panic attack. This action may help your brain to correctly identify your false panic narrative, as you are not actually in actual imminent physical danger.
5. Practice mindfulness and meditation
Mindfulness techniques can help ground you back to reality. Plus, daily meditation allows the body. Mins, and soul to work together to achieve clarity and calm. Meditation can also be used at any time of the day it’s needed. Helpful apps that provide various types of meditation are available for download to your devices.
A therapist encourages you use these techniques and seek anxiety counseling in Palatine, IL the next time you feel a panic attack approaching. You are well-advised to schedule a session to help you laser focus on the methods that work best for you.
Thanks to Lotus Wellness Center for their insight into counseling and tips for panic attacks.