How to handle Panic Attacks in 10 ways.!
When Bindu Shree, HR Professional thought she lost her bag in the crowded train in Mumbai, she was worried.
This is a natural response for anybody in her situation, only that her reaction was accompanied with a pounding of the heart, shaking, nausea and dizziness.
What she was going through was a severe panic attack.
Coping with panic attacks is never a pleasant experience. It can cloud your ability to act in a rational manner and worsen the situation among other things.
If left untreated, it can also lead to other disorders.
Here is a guide to help you along the way…
But before we go ahead, let us understand what a panic attack is and what are its symptoms…
What is a panic attack?
A panic attack is a sudden overpowering feeling of intense and incapacitating anxiety which can last anywhere from 5 minutes to a half an hour.
What causes panic attacks?
While the exact cause of this is not completely defined, a panic and anxiety attack can be due to extreme stress, medical conditions or physical reasons. It can be even due to your family background where members have a history of panic disorder.
Some of the physical symptoms/signs of panic attacks are:
- Shivering and shaking
- Heart beating faster than usual
- A sick feeling in the stomach
- Feeling like you are about to faint
- Dryness in the mouth
- Having the urge to cry
- Fear that you are dying or going insane
- Chest pain
While it is best to avoid the panic attack, if it has already set in, it will be more helpful if you learn to ride out the experience than look for escape routes.
This can be easier said than done, but it is best to confront your anxiety as by the end of it, it will only make you stronger and more confident about yourself.
Also, you will realise that nothing earth-shattering is going to happen. Once the ordeal subsides, you can go back to focusing on what you have to.
Sneha S, Marketing Professional shares her story,
“Whenever I had to make a presentation in front of my bosses, I used to undergo a panic attack.
At first, it was embarrassing as I used to freeze and could literally hear my rapidly beating heartbeat. Later on, when I could sense the attack setting in, I used to ask my seniors to give me 5 extra minutes to prepare.
So I would just take a deep breath and wait for it to pass. Over time, I gained the trust and confidence in myself that I know how to handle panic attacks if I ever get one.”
Here we go, your emotional life coach cafe counsel’s guide to handle Panick attacks in 10 ways!
1) Take deep breaths
We have been told time and again to take deep breathes when in a state of anxiety and panic. Turns out there is a good reason for it too.
They have recognised 175 brain cells which spy on the breath and modify the state of mind accordingly.
So the next time you feel like you are going down a black hole, breathe in positivity and let out all the stress and worry.
2) Seek counselling
Your panic attack might be triggered due to a deep-rooted issue.
It may be a childhood trauma, an unpleasant experience that the mind keeps going back to, low confidence, fear of being in the spotlight, etc. It might also be a reaction to a bigger problem.
If you feel like your attacks are coming in the way of your progress or you leading a normal life, it is best to seek counselling.
A therapist will dive into the real issue at hand and help you recover from it completely.
If time is an issue, you can always opt for online counselling to suit your requirements. And if you are wondering is panic attacks are curable, the answer is yes.
3) Eliminate the fear factor
One of the reasons why one goes through panic attack is fear. Fear can be a highly counterproductive emotion that would come in the way of your performance.
When you stop yourself from being afraid, you are getting rid of one of the cause.
The idea is to shift the way you are thinking and feeling.
So instead of hitting the panic button and screaming in your head. “Oh my god what is happening to me” you can tell yourself that
“There is nothing to fear here, this is just my body’s way of reaction to stress and anxiety.”
Remind yourself that despite what you are going through, you are not in danger of any kind and it will pass.
4) Exercise regularly
Wondering what the connection between exercise and panic attack is?
Here is the thing, exercising regularly can help release stress and put you in an overall better mental state.
As per the ‘Stress in America survey report‘ 53% of the participants claimed that they felt good about themselves post-exercising. 35 % admitted that it put them in a good mood and 30% confessed to feeling less stressed.
5) Give yourself a good scalp massage
A good massage is not only great for the growth of your hair but also helps reduce stress levels and induce relaxation.
Think of it as one of the natural remedies for panic attacks. As per a study published in International Journal of Neuroscience, a good massage can massage reduce cortisol levels by around 31%, boost serotonin by 28%, and dopamine by 31%.
So give yourself a head massage or better, ask a friend, family member or a professional to do it for you. You can also sprinkle a few drops of essential oil such as lavender that is known for their calming properties.
6) Avoid substances that worsen make panic attacks
If you do tend to suffer from anxiety attacks, it is best to keep away from substances such as caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes that will worsen the condition.
You might take it for a temporary respite, but it will do more harm than good in the long run.
For instance, while in limited doses is not harmful, too much of caffeine can land up overstimulating the brain which might bring about confusion.
It can also increase the rate of the heartbeat, a symptom that is similar to a panic attack.
Alcohol is even worse as it can blur your thought process as well as mind-body coordination.
7) Enjoy a bath with epsom salt
One of the keys to avoiding panic attacks is to put yourself in a state of relaxation. And one of the ways to do so is taking a warm bath in epsom salts.
Possessing magnesium, sulphur, and oxygen, this nature’s balm is effective in calming one’s nerves.
What’s more, since magnesium deficiency can bring about anxiety, epsom salt can help in doing away with that too.
8) Saying affirmations and prayers
Affirmations are a powerful way to align your actions with your goals.
When we say positive statements repeatedly, we internalise it and this helps in stopping us from going towards the direction of negative and self-sabotaging thoughts.
It works at a deeper level where you can notice a positive change in your professional and personal life. Even praying helps as it gives you the confidence and assurance that everything is going to be fine.
When our mind and body believes that there is nothing to worry about, we start acting in a similar manner.
9) Distract yourself
If you feel that your negative thoughts are plaguing you constantly, you can distract yourself from over thinking.
When you prevent yourself from anxious thinking, you stop from going into a voluntary anxiety attack.
Some of the tools you can do for the same is probably organising something, counting backwards, changing your focus to another thought, paying attention to your surroundings so something else that shifts your attention.
You can also opt for different sensory experiences such as splashing your face with cold water, drinking a glass of water or something on similar lines.
10) Have magnesium rich foods
As mentioned earlier, lack of magnesium in your body can induce anxiety. So, ensure that you do have this nutrient fix.
You can opt for something like dark chocolate (not your regular sugary ones but the decadent dark chocolate) as it is a great source of magnesium, with one square offering around 82 percent of your daily value.
What’s more, dark chocolate also contains other mood enhancing wonders such as tryptophan and theobromine. Pumpkin seeds are another source of magnesium that can be thought of too.
Do keep in mind that if your panic attacks are too frequent and severe, it is best to seek help from a professional counsellor. Anxiety counselling, depression counselling or regular clinical counselling can be considered.