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A woman sits on the floor with her dog after having a panic attack.

What to Do When You’re Having a Panic Attack

If you’re like me, anxiety is the watchword, and fight-or-flight mode is always just around the corner.

For those who suffer from anxiety, panic attacks are sometimes just a part of life, no matter how enlightened or spiritually evolved you are or may become. And because of this, we often feel guilt or shame, as though we aren’t doing enough to move beyond anxiety and into Nirvana.

But the fact of the matter is that panic attacks are a physiological response to stress that may have nothing to do with your self-care or mental health routines or how rigidly you stick to them.

However, while panic attacks themselves may be unavoidable at times, there are certain steps you can take and techniques you can utilize to encourage your body and mind to return to a state of peace and harmony.

So, the next time you feel the cortisol rising and think to yourself, “I am having a panic attack,” try utilizing the following techniques to calm yourself down and return your energy to a calm and collected place.

10 Signs That You’re Having a Panic Attack

Before we move onto methods that will help you calm down and ground yourself during a panic attack, it may be useful to go over a few telltale signs that a panic attack is taking place:

  • Pounding or racing heart
  • Sweating
  • Tingly or numb hands, arms, or legs
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Trembling
  • Chills
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Chest pain

You may experience one or multiple symptoms – it depends on your own body’s unique chemistry and physiology.

You might also be interested in: How I’m Living With Anxiety During a World Pandemic

5 Methods to Ground Yourself When You’re Having a Panic Attack

When you feel a panic attack coming on, it can seem less scary when you’re armed with information about grounding yourself and encouraging a calmness within the body. Let’s take a look at five methods that will help you recenter your focus and let go of fear during a panic attack.

1. Visualize a Safe & Calming Space

There’s a reason that a “happy place” exists in most of our minds – an imaginary space that brings comfort and safety in the confines of our own internal reality. When you’re feeling overwhelmed with anxiety or panic, it can help you ground yourself to think of a place that makes you feel safe and calm and imagine yourself in that space.

Whether it’s your childhood home, a field of lavender, or a cozy meadow, close your eyes and envision yourself breathing in the peaceful, healing air and breathe deeply.

2. Get Oxygenated

Speaking of breathing deeply, this is actually one of the best things to do when you’re facing anxiety and panic – simply breathing.

Panic attacks can cause hyperventilation, resulting in a loss of oxygen within the body. If you can manage to control your breathing, you may be able to prevent your panic attack from worsening or engaging other parts of your body.

One excellent breathing technique that also distracts you from your panic attack is:

  • Breath in for four seconds.
  • Hold that breathe for one second.
  • Breathe out for another four seconds.
  • Repeat this process until you feel the fear and panic leaving your body.

3. Remind Yourself This Will Pass

One of the scariest things about a panic attack is that you may feel like it will lead to something traumatic on your body – after all, when your heart is beating a million miles an hour, it’s natural to feel like a heart attack is just around the corner.

In fact, many people find panic attacks so upsetting or scary that they head to the hospital the first time they encounter one.

But all those scary thoughts aren’t going to help that anxiety calm down, so it’s important to try to remind yourself that “this too will pass.” While a panic attack downright stinks in the moment, they don’t typically last long.

Check out this article next: Why Anxiety is More Than Just Worrying

4. Get a Whiff of Lavender

Sometimes changing your sensory experience can jolt your senses out of a panic attack and into a calmer state, and lavender is one of the most calming plants on the planet. If you frequently experience anxiety and panic attacks, consider carrying a small vial of lavender essential oil with you throughout the day.

If you feel a panic attack coming on, open your lavender and take a deep breath in. Place a few drops on your temple or wrists if it’s diluted and allow the calming fragrance to enter your body and soothe the senses.

5. Move Your Body

Sometimes relying on your mind to help you calm down can make things worse, as it may lead to overthinking or racing thoughts. When this happens, it’s best to focus your energy on your body. Try getting up and moving around, either by going on a light walk, doing some light exercise, or even pushing out a few jumping jacks wherever you happen to be.

Exercise or activities like these can help you regulate your breathing, step out of your mind, and release endorphins that relax the body.

Additionally, regular exercise can prevent panic attacks from forming in the future by relieving your body of stress and tension.

You Got This!

Listen, panic attacks are upsetting for everyone who experiences them – but it’s not your fault, and you don’t have to sit and suffer in silence. Don’t be afraid to tell those around you if you need support or a moment to yourself when you’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed.

And if the anxiety becomes unbearable or you feel it necessary, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about your panic attacks.

You deserve to live a peaceful, harmonious life, focusing on love and the healing energy of the Universe, rather than being dragged down by anxiety. By practicing these methods, you may eventually be able to stop a panic attack dead in its tracks.

So, take a deep breath, hug yourself, and pack that lavender in your bag; tomorrow is a new day!

Related article: A Meditation for Self-Healing

Rhiannon Liselle

Rhiannon Liselle

Rhiannon Liselle is a student and freelance writer who, from the time she began penning letters to the moon, knew she wanted to spend her life writing. She has written for such publications as Self-Love Soup and Astrology Answers. She is a late bloomer who decided to return to college... Read More

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