Your heart is beating out of its chest and you gasp for air, failing every time – this is a panic attack and it’s a terrifying experience. They are often incredibly difficult to overcome, especially if you don’t have the right techniques. In this post, I want to shine light on some of the reasons why we have panic attacks and methods to get one out of an attack.
Why Do Panic Attacks Occur?
Sometimes it’s during an experience, thinking about a traumatising situation or encountering something that makes you relive the trauma that causes us to panic. There are numerous different triggers for panic attacks and it can be quite difficult to pinpoint the exact situation that has triggered you. None the less, the current situation causes us to have immense fear which results in panic.
This panic we experience is as a result of the fight or flight response. Like when we would encounter a dangerous situation in the past, say a dangerous animal trying to eat us, we would either prepare to fight or flight. Most of the time we would instinctively flight, which involved involuntary responses, such as; fast heart rate and heavy breathing. It prepares us for a life threatening situation.
More often than not, with anxiety and stress, our brain can take these situations as being detrimental to our wellbeing. This in turn, triggers the flight response and we panic.
How to Overcome the Panic?
In order to conquer a panic attack, the key is distraction. Find anything you can do that will keep your mind actively involved. Much of the panic stems from thinking and if you distract your mind, these thoughts are able to leave for long enough to stop an attack. In saying this, different things work for everyone. I personally, list 5 things I can see, hear and touch in order to prevent one when I feel it coming on. If one does come I tend to play a game or scroll reddit to have some sort of active involvement in an activity by my brain. It’s very important to try different things and find out what works best for you, especially if panic attacks are a recurring thing. Some things to try to in order to get out of an attack include:
- Listing 5 things you can see, hear and touch.
- Read something informative, this often distracts us as we are focusing. Especially if it’s something that is explaining how to do a task.
- Say encouraging phrases, such as; ‘you are okay’ or ‘you will get through this’. It is also thought that using ‘you’ instead of ‘I’ helps.
- Watch something you know will distract you.
- Bake or cook by following a recipe. I often do this to distract myself at times. It has a calming effect.
Thanks for reading everyone! Panic attacks can be incredibly scary and hard to break out of so I wanted to share how I was able control them. In the end, I found it was understanding the cause of them, along with distracting my mind when negative thoughts appeared.