3 Tips to Stop a Panic Attack

Panic is experienced by so many people worldwide. Panic arrives without notice, is so debilitating it can take hours to recover.

In another post I will walk you through understanding why they arrive, but if you have found yourself here, you are probably craving some active and helpful coping strategies.

These are the first 3 strategies I teach any of my clients. The most helpful strategies are usually ones that you can use anytime, anywhere, without any tools.

Some people are disappointed they are unable become relaxed when using these techniques. Remember, the aim of the exercise is listed for each below. Relaxation is not always the aim, but rather a side effect of a successfully applied technique.

DON’T FORGET: Try to practice these at least TWICE a day when you are first learning. We all know ‘practice makes perfect’, so before the next panic attack arrives make sure you have the skills!

Controlled breathing

 Aim:

To balance the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our body. Anxiety disrupts this balance (e.g. hyperventilating).

When to use it:

Before the panic attack has started! Use this when you are feeling one is coming on, but you are not at the panic station yet.

How to:

  1. Breathe in for 3 seconds
  2. Hold for 1 second
  3. Breathe out of 4 seconds

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Aim:

To reduce muscle tension, jaw clenching, and tension headaches, and exhaustion. By reducing this, we prevent our brain receiving false signals that we are in a potentially dangerous situation.

When to use it:

Whenever you feel yourself starting to ‘tense up’ or ‘stress out’.

How to:

  1. Slow down your breathing (try using controlled breathing technique)
  2. Starting with whichever you feel most comfortable, progressively tense each muscle group (being careful not to cause pain). Keep the muscles tensed for around 5 seconds.
  3. After 5 seconds, release the muscle group. It can be helpful to say something like “Relax” as you do.
  4. Stay in this ‘released’ state for at least 10 seconds before moving onto the next muscle group.

Grounding

Aim:

To bring your awareness to the present moment, and stop from getting lost in your worries

When to use:

When you start to feel your worries take a hold and start to control you.

How to:

Look around you. Look for

  1. 1 thing you can TASTE
  2. 2 things you can SMELL
  3. 3 things you can HEAR
  4. 4 things you can FEEL
  5. 5 things you can SEE

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