Whoa, the start of a new year is very stressful. How are you coping? My personal opinion is that it is at its peak in the 35 to 50 age bracket. Life gets very real at this age. Mortgages, having children and trying to raise them, bills, and trying to give your all at work while managing to come home with a good attitude. Knowing what to do when you are having a panic attack can help to take the edge off the fear of having one.
A panic attack can feel absolutely terrifying. These attacks can come at random and it stems from profound anxiety. Although it is an emotional condition, it has physical manifestations that can make your heart pound and your knees wobble.
Panic attacks also make it difficult to breathe, cause dizziness and chest pains. Many have ended up in the ER thinking that they are having a heart attack. It is usually over in a few minutes, but it can feel like a long time for the patient.
It is also quite common to develop a fear that a panic attack could strike at any time. This can be a contributing factor as to why it happens. Should this be the case, you may be diagnosed with a panic disorder.
“People have these panic attacks under various circumstances,” explains Martin N. Seif, PhD, a clinical psychologist in New York City and Greenwich, Conn. They constantly worry about having an attack and may avoid certain situations as a result. Eventually, people with panic disorder may realize that they aren’t actually afraid of the situation they’re avoiding, but rather of experiencing additional panic attacks, notes Seif.
What to do when you are having a panic attack
Learning a few tricks to avoid a panic attack can ultimately reduce the fear of getting one.
These are our top 5:
- Learn how to control your breathing – Not being able to catch your breath is frightening. As soon as that moment kicks in, focus on taking long deep breaths. The old paper bag trick is also handy if you have one close by.
- Sit down and squeeze and release your muscles. – This allows your mind to focus on something else and has a relaxing effect.
- Remove yourself from the situation. If it’s a person that is creating excessive stress, ask them to leave. Standing up for yourself also helps to give you back control.
- Visualisation – When attack strikes, picture yourself in your happy place. There are many nature soundtracks available online that can help this along. Think ocean or nature sounds. Taking up meditation is a good practice to teach you to be calm. Even just 5 minutes per day is helpful but it is consistency that is key so that it becomes a lifestyle.
- Count your blessings – Think of things that make you happy. Your kids, your home, going on a trip, your loved ones. Anything that will put your thoughts elsewhere will lessen the focus on the attack.