One of the most debilitating complications of anxiety disorders is panic attacks. A panic attack is an episode of intense fear or discomfort that comes on suddenly and often without warning. It is often accompanied by physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, sweating, and dizziness.
A panic attack can last up to 20 minutes or longer, and can feel like you’re having a heart attack or about to die. It’s normal to be scared and overwhelmed when this happens. But there are steps you can take to help you calm down from a panic attack and get your anxiety under control.
1. Take deep breaths
When you’re having a panic attack, your breathing becomes shallow and rapid. This can make you feel out of control. The best thing to do when you start feeling the symptoms of a panic attack is to focus on your breathing. Take deep, slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will help to slow down your heart rate and calm your nerves.
2. Visualize a safe place
Another helpful way to calm down after a panic attack is to visualize a safe place. This could be somewhere you’ve been before or somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Visualize every detail of this place, including sound and smell. Really try to immerse yourself in this “safe place” to take your mind off of whatever is causing your panic attack.
3. Break the cycle of negative thoughts
Negative thinking is common during a panic attack. You may start thinking things like, “I’m going to have a heart attack,” “I’m going to lose control,” or, “I’m going crazy.” These thoughts can fuel your anxiety and make a panic attack even worse. Instead of succumbing to these negative thoughts, try to break the cycle by challenging them with positive statements of affirmation like, “I am in control,” “I am safe,” or, “I am okay.”
4. Moving around
Another way to combat the symptoms of a panic attack is to move around. Take a walk outside, go for a run, or do some other form of physical activity. This will help increase your heart rate and release some of the tension that is building up in your body. Moving your body can also act as a distraction from the negative that may be causing your panic attack.
5. Try relaxation techniques
There are various relaxation techniques that can be helpful when trying to calm down from a panic attack. Some of these include progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, and meditation. Relaxation techniques can help to slow down your breathing, lower your heart rate, and reduce the overall stress in your body.
6. Finding a distraction
Last but not least, finding a distraction can be a helpful way to calm down from a panic attack. This could involve watching a funny TV show, talking to a friend, or listening to calming music. Doing something that takes your mind off the panic-inducing situation can help reduce your anxiety and get you through the attack.
If you experience anxiety disorders, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Panic attacks can be extremely scary, but the above techniques can help you calm down and regain control. If your panic attacks are becoming more frequent or severe, it’s advisable to speak to a doctor or mental health professional. They can help you develop a treatment plan to manage your anxiety and reduce the frequency of panic attacks.