Ten Tools That Help Relieve Panic Attacks
How can coping tools help relieve panic attacks? Especially since most panic attacks feel like they come out of the blue, even though there is usually a trigger. The trigger is that you are scared of panic attacks. And why wouldn't you be? They are one of the most uncomfortable experiences on this planet. Having a list of tools can help reduce the number of panic attacks you experience and help you feel less afraid of the panic coming.
10 Coping Tools for Panic Attack Relief
These coping tools will help you avoid panic attacks in the first place. Some of them you should do every day as part of good self-care. Others will help when you enter new situations or relationships. Put them all in your anti-anxiety toolkit and feel more in control.
1. Have an exit plan. Sometimes knowing we have a plan to leave a situation helps us not be so afraid of trying something new. For example, know you can excuse yourself, you can have your own car to drive home, or you have a friend to support you can make all the difference. We are often scared to get anxiety and not be able to do anything about it. We are afraid of being out of control. Making a plan will make you feel more in control and this counters the anxiety.
2. Have someone you can count on ready to call. In fact, have several, in case the one is busy. Someone who knows about the anxiety and can tell you you are okay, or even better--someone who can make you laugh.
3. Spend time with your pet. Animals tend to ease anxiety. So spend as much time with a friendly animal as you can. Here are some animal activities to enjoy: keeping a pet, bird watching, going to an aquarium, etc. (Animal Therapy: Easing Anxiety With An Animal)
4. Interact with water. There is something about water that stops the energy of panic. Sometimes crying releases it (tears). However, consider taking a hot bath or shower for immediate relief. Also drinking hot soup or a hot drink (non-caffeinated) can help.
5. Have a tranquilizer with you. Knowing you have anti-anxiety medication to calm you down within 15 minutes can help you not be afraid of anxiety. Again, we are afraid of being out of control of our anxiety so just knowing you have the medicine is all you need (With Anxiety, You Do Have Control). Panic needs you to be scared of it for it to stay.
6. Give yourself a massage or have your loved one give you one. This really calms the nerves and calls our attention back out of the anxious mind and into the body.
7. Forward bend. Like a fetal position, any forward bend in yoga counters anxiety. You can get in child's position (see photo).
8. Stare at yourself in the mirror. This is called tratak meditation. It helps build trust in yourself. Do this when you are calm to prevent anxiety and panic.
9. Go for a walk. Get a change of scenery and use up some of that excess energy. The biology of fear indicates the release of adrenaline makes your body want to do something. Doing something and feeling a sense of control on the account of that activity is by far the best thing you can do for a panic attack.
10. Laugh. Watch some funny videos on YouTube. Laughter and anxiety cannot live in the same moment together!
What did I forget? What's worked for you?
Lobozzo, J. (2012, May 2). Ten Tools That Help Relieve Panic Attacks, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 14 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2012/05/ten-things-to-do-for-a-panic-attack
Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R
My problem is, my panic attacks always happen while I'm taking a shower and gets worse the longer I remain in the bathroom. I never have them anywhere else. Breathing doesn't help and sitting on the floor only helps until I stand back up. The only thing I found that helps in getting out of there and sitting infront of my fan. Even then it takes a few minutes to calm down.
It scares the hell out of me. I had my worst one I've ever had last night. If felt like I was drowning. I don't understand it. And all I wanna do is cry.
With panic disorder, panic attacks occur with seemingly no discernible cause, and they appear to be random or linked to the fear of having another panic attack. Other times, panic attacks are linked to something else, something more specific. (However they are classified, panic attacks are panic attacks and feel horrible and frightening.) Because yours have a distinct pattern, it might be helpful to you to work with a therapist. You can work together to identify the link between your panic attacks and showering, and you can build a specific plan to reducing your panic attacks. As daunting as it may seem right now, you can come to understand and overcome this.
I have had panic disorder for over five years now. I have been on so many different medications I cannot remember the names of the all. My anxiety follows me everyday of my life like a cloud over my head. They come from nowhere and completely disable me. I know exactly what's happening every time but it's so intense that it overwhelmes me. I take 100mg of Zoloft everyday and I have xanax in my pocket at all times. Sometimes when I panic I read articles like this one just to remind me I'm not dying. I'm sure that I will have panic disorder the rest of my life. Sometimes it's hard to make it day to day. I suppose what triggers it for me is knowing that I am going to have a panic attack every day no matter what. I wake up in the middle of the night and instantly have a panic attack. (These are always the strongest attacks for me) so I'm often afraid to sleep but then lack of sleep causes panic anyway. It has complete controll of my life.
It sounds like you are doing some things to keep the panic attacks from completely overwhelming you, and that is great. Don't give up! Even though it does seem sometimes that the panic is ruling your life and that it will be there forever, that doesn't have to be the case. You have insight into a big trigger, and that's a great start. Have you worked with a therapist to help put that trigger in its place? Professional help combined with the things you are already doing and the insight you already have can help you reduce and even overcome panic.
My panic attacks wont let me leave in peace nor let me work.......I need help please
Panic attacks can be debilitating. You are already on the right track by researching to find articles and forums that provide information that you might find helpful. Often, people do need professional help in overcoming panic. Have you considered seeing a therapist (or a different therapist if you tried one that didn't work for you)? Being able to work with someone one-on-one to address panic head-on and learn effective techniques and exercises can, over time, go a long way toward reducing panic's grip.
WHAT IF THE FEAR IS THE CONDITION PLUS A SITUATION YOU FEAR FOR YOUR LIFE> AND COULD COST YOU YOUR LIFE!
When a situation can potentially be life-threatening, it is imperative to seek professional help. Seeing a therapist and even spending some time in a behavioral health center/hospital can help increase your safety and help you deal with emergency situations so that you are then able to work on long-term reduction in anxiety and panic. If you are ever in immediate danger, call 911 - they will get you to appropriate help - or visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/, a resource that can also connect you to local help.
[...] and relax every muscle group one by one, count backward from 100 or take a brief walk. Having a plan may prevent you from spiraling [...]
Hello Panic and Distress: The Physiology of Anxiety Attacks, :)
Thank you for sharing your effective insights!
These are great suggestions! We recently found this interesting article about what it physically feels like to have a panic attack and wanted to share: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/21/panic-attack-feeling_n_5977998.html
Thank you for sharing the link to this article! It's definitely share-worthy.
Thanks for sharing!
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I'm usually at school all day and if something important is happening, or we have a test I start to have panic attacks and I don't know how to stop them. Because I'm at school I don't really have any options to help them. Do you have any suggestions on what to do? My friends know I get them so if I start to panic they'll help me out but I'm really worried I'll faint and something will happen. I don't have medication or anything. Any ideas?
One technique that I've found to be surprisingly effective is to put an ice pack on my head. Any significant decrease in temperature works, really. It won't stop a panic attack in progress, but it can prevent one from happening. If you're at school, you can sprint down to the nurse's office (exercise releases endorphins, which have been scientifically proven by someone other than me to reduce anxiety), get an ice pack, and finish your test. Theoretically. I haven't tested this as thoroughly as I would like to because I only have panic attacks about once a month, and I am not willing to intentionally trigger one. But the endorphins part will almost certainly work!
Exercise releases endorphins, which have been scientifically proven by someone besides me to help. Whenever I start panicking, I put an ice pack on my head, or go roll around in the snow, or just generally do something to decrease my temperature significantly. I've found that the ice pack method will prevent a panic attack, but won't stop one that's already underway. However, I haven't tested that as thoroughly as I would like because I only have panic attacks about once a month, and I am not willing to intentionally trigger one just "for Science." So, here's a suggestion: the next time you start panicking, ask the teacher if you can run down to the nurse's office. Literally run. At a sprint. Once there, get an ice pack and run back. Or walk if you're out of breath, as you should probably be.
If you're less comfortable with bending rules, go to the counselor's office and ask to run around the school. I've used both methods before. They work.
I had my worst panic attack ever yesterday. I have been Dealing with panic and agoraphobia now for two years. Yesterday I had to sign papers to sell our house. I could not breath going to the signing or coming from. I know all the breathing techniques. I just need someone to listen! It is not like I am young, but this keeps getting worse.
My anxiety attacks are always brought on by my family(parents). I'll go to visit them and either they will start fighting or they'll start fighting with me, and when I try to leave as my 'exit strategy', they make me feel bad for leaving and get more angry at me, and that makes my anxiety even worse. My chest gets really tight and it's hard to breathe. I start shaking and crying. I've had them last up to 45 minutes before. I'm not on medicine, and only a few of these tips help me. If you know of anything else I could try, I would greatly appreciate it.
It's not uncommon for anxiety to be associated with specific people -- often family. It's okay if only a few of the tips here help you. There is no such thing as a strategy that works for everyone. I believe that in writing this post, Jodi was gathering a list of strategies for people to try and to keep a few to use if they worked. In your case, it's good to have a few different strategies to use, but you don't need too many. Quality is better than quantity. If you have some that work, practice them over and over again, when you're not with your family. Then, when you're with your family, the strategies will feel more natural and you'll be more likely to stick with them despite whatever is going on.
Everything is very open with a precise clarification of the issues.
It was truly informative. Your website is
extremely helpful. Many thanks for sharing!
I used to get awful panic attacks many times a day, and was agoraphobic for years due to panic and anxiety. I've tried a couple fast acting (xanax, ativan) but they made me tired, and the next day my anxiety felt worse...
What finally worked for me, is total distraction! I still get moments where I have anxiety/panic, but I have trained my brain to completely immerse myself in whatever I'm doing at the moment (cooking, laundry, driving) and breath/whisper my favorite songs, so to distract my breathing. Hope that helps, this is such an awful disorder to live with, and I'm grateful to read others' coping mechanisms as well, and know I'm not alone.
Thank you for sharing what works for you! Distraction (also known as mindfulness) is very effective, and it's great that you found something that works. It's wonderful that others are sharing coping mechanisms, too -- as you said, it helps to know that your'e not alone. And it's great to have many different tools to try.
Holding ice while it melts helps me, pinching myself to ground myself, going for a walk, any type of major distraction seems to help. But I suffer from residual anxiety for hours after the attack. Smetimes when the physical symptoms are gone I worry bc my body suddenly feels TOO relaxed. Does this ever happen to anyone? I feel like I'm living in hell.
Thank you for sharing those great techniques. I have a feeling you are not alone in your worry about being too relaxed. Hopefully readers respond (it usually happens over time) with stories of their own that relate to yours.
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This is a great list. I do agree with water and tears. Sometimes, a lot is going on in my head and it just won't stop and when I watch really moving videos or movies, it kind of lessens. Cold shower works too. I also spend time with our dogs and talk to them. I also have my boyfriend who is always there to help me and talk to me.
Thank you for sharing things that work for you to add to Jodi's list! Many people will benefit from your strategies.
don't regret it
I will testify that the yoga position really works.
Thanks for the information.
Hi. Some good idea's. The Yoga position is a good one for it encourages controlled relaxation.
Inspiring and educational post, thank you for sharing. Dealing with anxiety is certainly not a straight road, but a windy pathway to freedom.
I'm glad you enjoyed Jodi's post. I like your observation that dealing with anxiety is a windy path to freedom! Very true. I'm sorry we couldn't share the link to your website. We don't post links, even good ones, in order to keep Healthy Place a community where people can exchange thoughts and ideas without feeling like they're being solicited. Keep doing the great work you're doing!
Hey Molly I saw your post, this happened to me, at school socials I felt trapped with no where to go, if you can map out your whole surroundings, pick out quiet spots, exits, something that you are interested in, someone's hat etc can help, you may also find it beneficial to slowly take part in the crowd (as you get more comfortable slowly go deeper into the crowd. Hope this helps good luck. Candy//
I'm 16 and I started having panic attacks at the beginning of the year. My mom also suffers from panic attacks. So there is a history of panic attacks in my family. I constantly hurt all over and I constantly worry about my health. I'm a singer and I found that if it sing some happy or silly songs my panic attacks tend to disappear and I feel much better. Also I've found that standing or sitting in the sun tends to make my panic attack go away as well. But I'm looking for a way to deal with my panic attacks when I'm in large crowds and unable to leave. (Example: My 8th grade graduation) I never carry my medication with me because I feel like I'll get in trouble or something but there always somewhere close like in my moms purse.
Let me start by saying it's fantastic that you have found ways to manage your panic in certain situations. That's not always easy, and you have proven that you're stronger than your panic. But panic can still feel strong, such as when you are in large crowds. Some people find it helpful to, when possible, position themselves near an exit. When you can't do that (such as a graduation where you might have had assigned seats), it can be helpful to spot an exit and make a mental exit path. Keeping your attention focused on that path can sometimes reduce anxiety because you feel like you have some control over your situation and thus feel less trapped. People have reported that just knowing they've found an escape route helps them be able to remain in a crowd. When others read your comment in this thread, perhaps they'll be able to post some additional tips. It's good that you are looking for ways that will work for you in situations of panic. It's part of taking charge!
I'm Candy, an older teenager, I've had severe crippling panic attacks since I was 8years old. I'm a senior student in college and I saw everyone's posts, I'm looking for advice on how to;
1. Cope with panic attacks at school.
2. Ways to tell my teacher about my panic attacks (teacher that already knows my panic attacks but doesn't understand them)
3. Ways to tell my friends (without feeling weak and helpless)
4. Ways to help relieve stress induced insomnia. (From panic attacks)
Any ideas will be much appreciated, thanks for your time! Candy
Welcome to HealthyPlace! I'm glad you discovered Jodi's article. Your four categories capture the questions/struggles that the vast majority of people living with panic or any other mental health challenge face. I hope you find many tips from fellow readers. As I don't want to stifle responses to your comment, I'm merely posting it and opening it up for discussion. May you find helpful insights!
Hi! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of
my good old room mate! He always kept talking about this.
I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have
a good read. Many thanks for sharing!
Jodi is the one who wrote this great post, but because she's no longer writing for HealthyPlace, she's unable to respond to comments. I'm so glad that you liked it and want to pass it along. Thanks for your comment.
I have recently started having panic attacks, went to the doctor and we'd told nevus ofthe recent move I made could have triggered something. I started doing yoga every day. But just today I started to get then back and have no idea why.. I get super scared.. please help. I don't like feeling helpless, I would appreciate some feedback.. I also get them mostly when I start to fall asleep or while I'm sleeping..
A move is a big adjustment to make, and it is possible that your panic attacks are tied to that, at least at first. Perhaps now they feel more random. In panic disorder, panic attacks do come on seemingly at random, and that is one of the things that is so scary and frustrating about them -- they can't be predicted. It's good that you've noticed that yours do have a pattern of occurring with sleep. Have you tried keeping track of what you do during the day (activities, foods eaten, when you do these things, etc.) You might notice that your panic attacks happen when you've done something specific during the day. Knowing the connection can help you work through it. Having a written record could be very helpful to a doctor or therapist should you decide to seek professional help. This tracking won't eliminate panic attacks, of course, but it could lead to insight you can use in getting rid of them. Also, it sounds like you have a good coping strategy in doing yoga. Having regular things you use to stay calm or to calm down is very important in ridding yourself of panic. Sometimes they take time to really work. Your brain and body need to learn to associate something, such as yoga, with calming down, and they need to be trained to stay calm. Finally, know that you aren't doomed to this forever!
I'm in my middle 30's and I get extreme panic attacks at night mostly. Arms, face and hands go numb, cheady pain and rapid breathing. I've been to ER a few times and now its every night I now I'm having them. I'm not depressed I take xanax 1mg at night but doesn't help. What do I do!?
Hi guys im new here i have questions about my panic attacks as they are scary enough as is but ive have them for a couple years now im 30 and i used to smoke crack from age 22 to about 24 not super heavy but moderately on a daily basis ive been clean for 6 years now but was wandering if the drug abuse from then is the cause of my attacks or if my attacks are my bodys way of warning me that id damaged it even though i cant tell but perhaps long term damage that hasnt reared its ugly head yet and my body is freaking out trying to tell me somethings wrong ive been having them for 3 years but have been clean for 6 could these be related somehow should i be worried or is all these worries just my attacks found a way to fuel themselves im really scared
I'm glad you found HealthyPlace and the Anxiety-Schmanxiety community. People interact with each other and respond to comments, and I hope that you will receive helpful insights from others in yoru position. I think that it is possible that substance use contributed to anxiety/panic, but it's also possible that you are experiencing great worry about it that is leading to the anxiety and panic. Have you visited a doctor about this? A thorough physical exam and a discussion about what the physical effects of crack can and can't be might go far in alleviating your fears. You can then rule out the source of difficulties or identify the source and then be able to take action to heal. In the meantime, it's a great idea to start to take charge of your panic attacks by learning information and talking to others. You are on the right track.
I had seen a psychiatrist but i did not tell her about the drug abuse just the attacks i was she would take my kids even though d been clean for years the drugs were done before even having my children but still a fear in my mind i also just got informed by someone that it could even be caused from the head traumas i sufffered as a child 3 different occassions where stitches were required they said the trauma may have caused frontal lobe epilepsy where im having seizures the symtoms i have match perfect especially the electric shocks in my head and blankly staring while having an attack and occasionally my arms go numb with the attacks do these things happen in normal panic attacks too or did i just find the answer i was looking for should i see a neurologist now instead
Hello again Sandra,
Based on what you've written, I definitely think that a visit to a doctor (general to begin with, or directly to a neurologist or even psychiatrist) would be a good idea. You might find the underlying cause and then be able to address it, or you might be able to rule things out and find a new starting point. Either way, it would be wise to look into it. I am not familiar with laws/child protection, but I do think that since you've been clean for a number of years, mentioning your past drug use (which is important to get to the bottom of things) won't be held against you. You can check with others who are more knowledgeable in the law just to be sure. And don't be ashamed. You're far from the only person who has used drugs. There are many reasons people do, and it has absolutely nothing to do with being a "good" or a "bad" person. You want to move forward and feel better. Don't feel ashamed!
I'm a keen letter writer, and would like to know if there is in any case of creating a letter writing community as a result of this. Creative letter writers writing to creative letter writers the planet over.
I appreciate your wanting to connect with others here. Connections are powerful! Unfortunately, HealthyPlace cannot share things such as personal addresses, phone numbers, etc. for safety reasons. I do welcome you to our community and hope you exchange comments here. It's not quite the same as letter writing, I know, but it could be a close second.
I have been suffering from panic attacks for several years, I first started feeling like I was burning up from the inside out. I drink ice water to combat that feeling. I have more attack if I have something physically wrong like a cold, or stomach flu anything I panic it is something worse. I also have more when the Dr. gives me new medications or changes something. I have had my husband call 911 more than I care to say, I feel so foolish when they pass, and I have bothered everyone in the process, I usually wake up with them in the middle of the night and have to get my husband up (sometimes hes not too happy with that), but I really dont know what else to do. Thank you so much for this blog, I think I will try some of the things on the list. Some relief is better than nothing..