What is a Panic Attack?
Having a panic attack is scary, can feel uncontrollable, and sometimes do not have a direct cause. Explaining a panic attack can be difficult. Panic and duration of panic look different depending on each person and because of this can be a bit tricky to pull from. When I experienced my first panic attack I was unaware of what was happening. I was unable to catch my breath, felt my hands and arms trembling, cried uncontrollably, and did not know how to help myself. Others have symptoms that range from dissociation to feeling like they are not going to survive past the state of panic, fear, and inability to get back to a mental state of control. Panic attacks have physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that appear before, during, and after it is over.
Managing and Pulling Yourself from a Panic Attack
Being able to identify your panic triggers as well as your mental state before you experienced the panic is crucial in the process of self-help as well as preventing future panic attacks. Self-awareness and preparation can help one to stay calm and prevent escalation into a full-blown panic attack. What are ways to identify a panic attack as well as ways to pull yourself from it?
Because the triggers and symptoms of a panic attack vary depending on the person, it is essential to understand the spaces, people, circumstances, and situations that may cause a possible panic. Sometimes it can just be a constant state of mental turmoil that triggers a panic attack and not an external stimulus, but whatever you identify as trigger points are the areas to start with when helping yourself manage and pull yourself from panic attacks.
During the Panic
When you find yourself on the brink of a panic attack (or experiencing one) and you are feeling overwhelmed, try these tactics to attempt to regain control:
Mindfulness breathing is being able to gain control by focusing only on your breath. Each moment is defined by an awareness of your breath as a mechanism to calm your feelings, emotions, and experiences. Gaining control of your inner world becomes easier as you focus on one sensation allowing you to witness the power of your own abilities to become calm.
An example of mindfulness breathing can be simply to inhale through your nose for a count of five and exhale through your mouth with another count of five. Become aware of the cycled rhythm of breathing to gain control of your thoughts.
Grounding can be another method to gain calmness and control while feeling overwhelmed or in a panic. Identifying items/sensations that attract your senses allow you to focus your mind on the realness of your environment and space.
An example of grounding can be identifying 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear and so on and so forth. Allow your senses to heighten as you attempt to stabilize your emotional, mental, and physical state of being.
Drink water in times when you feel overwhelmed and in a panic. Reassure yourself that you still have control over your ability to drink and hydrate your body.
Positive self-talk/Reciting Repetitive Phrases
One method that helped me in pulling myself from an overwhelming state of panic is positive self-talk. In moments where you feel your mind and body go in a state of shock and chaos, it is important to invade intrusive thoughts with progressive ones. Sometimes it takes speaking out loud to allow yourself the space to become calm.
Examples of positive self-talk can be reassuring yourself that you are safe, you will get through the tough moments, and you hold the power to gain control in the midst of the panic. You can also recite numbers, favorite lyrics, or anything that is helpful in getting through the panic.
Whatever helps the best to calm your mind during panic attacks is defined only by you. Teach others around you ways that can help as well. Practice self-awareness as well as the best methods that help in order to learn how to avoid and manage triggers in order to stay in a calm and relaxed state of mind.
Nina is a Latina from Brooklyn, NY who struggles with depression and anxiety. She finds refuge and healing through her writing since she graduated from college in 2016. Nina writes to spread awareness and hope to those who struggle with their mental health silently. She also strives to motivate and encourage self-acceptance. She enjoys creating creative and uplifting content on her blog SparklyWarTanks.com where she shares her experiences, notes, poems, quotes, and articles