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One of our writers, Anna, has created a list with her top strategies for getting through a panic attack.

So you’re having a panic attack.

They’re not fun, I know. But you will get through this, I promise.

I’ve suffered from panic attacks on a frequent basis and I’ve put together a list of things that I personally have found useful to help you beat, or at least control, the panic. Everyone is different, and each person will deal with panic attacks in their own way, so what works for someone else may not work for you. These tips always help me though, and I hope they will help you too!

1: Remember that A PANIC ATTACK CANNOT HURT YOU.

Your heart may be going a mile a minute, you may feel faint, dizzy, sick or have chest pain, but they are all part of the panic attack and won’t actually hurt you. My symptoms always fade away after I calm down.

2: Take some slow, deep breaths, with normal breaths in between.

Many people hyperventilate when they panic, which can contribute to dizziness, faintness and chest pain. Try to breathe in through your nose for 4/5 seconds, hold the breathe for 2/3 seconds, then breathe out through your mouth for 6/7 seconds. I do this about 3 or 4 times and then take a few normal breaths before starting again. Make sure you breathe slowly.

3: Remember that a panic attack will ALWAYS end.

If you’ve had one before, remember that you’ve always survived them. Try to fight against the things you may be telling yourself. For example I often think, ‘I’m going to faint!’ So I say to myself, ‘no, you are just feeling faint. The feeling will pass and you will be ok’. If you feel self conscious, remember that most of the time people will not notice you are having a panic attack.

4: Distract yourself.

If there’s any way you can distract yourself, preferably with something you enjoy, DO IT. Talk to a friend, listen to some calming music, watch T.V., read a book, go on social media, or even just fiddle with something.

5: Move about!

If you can, go for a walk or run, or jump up and down and shake your arms and legs. I like to do this while imagining that I’m shaking the stress out of my body. Any kind of movement or exercise can help use up excess adrenaline. Also, exercise will release endorphins to make you feel happier and relieve stress.

6: Cry if you need to.

I have often found that the stress of a panic attack can get so intense that I start crying. I noticed that I always feel better if I cry and let the emotions out. It’s like releasing a pressure valve and it gives an outlet for the panic. Research has shown that crying excretes stress hormones from the body and may stimulate endorphin production.

7: Phone someone you trust (if there’s no-one with you).

I often phone my parents if I’m alone and having an intense panic attack. Phone someone you are close to, tell them what’s happening and ask them to stay on the line until you can calm down. I often ask my parents to talk about something completely different to distract me, but if you would prefer to hear soothing words, tell the person that’s what you need. If you can’t phone anyone, tell someone you are having a panic attack. Don’t be embarrassed, most people are more than happy to help. Just ask someone to sit with you for as long as possible or until it’s over.

8: If possible, try to remain where you are.

If this proves too difficult go somewhere you feel safe or you find relaxing. I often used to go to a toilet cubicle as it made me feel secure and was private, but parks can be good too. Go anywhere you feel safe or calmer- whatever works for you. If you leave the place you panicked in, it can make you scared of going back, or reliant on going to a certain place to calm down. If you get through a panic attack where you are, you will prove to yourself that you’re capable of beating an attack anywhere.

After a Panic Attack

And what about after a panic attack? You may feel shaky, sick, exhausted, tearful, or even euphoric that it’s over.

Here are some things to do/consider after an attack.

1: Find somewhere to sit quietly while you calm down.

2: Have a comforting drink and maybe something to eat, preferably bland, so as not to make you feel sick or upset your stomach, which can be sensitive after an attack.

3: Talk to someone. Again, talk to a friend or relative. Chatting to people can help you get over the residual feelings of an attack.

4: If you think you’re likely to have more panic attacks in the future, consider asking a friend or relative if they can be your ‘go to’ person when you’re panicking. If you want, tell them what helps you in particular, such as comforting words, trying to distract you etc so they know how best to help you.

Lastly, congratulate yourself on getting through the panic attack. I know how scary they are but you survived and if you have another one you know that you are capable of beating it! I hope my tips helped you. Do you have any other panic attack tips that work better for you? If you want to share your tips with us, tweet us at @FOMCIC or direct message Freedom of Mind on Facebook.

 

If you have something you want to say about mental health send us a pitch to cai.burton@freedomofmind.org.uk

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