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 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2012/05/ten-things-to-do-for-a-panic-attack
Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R
I'm glad that you've found Jodi's article and HealthyPlace in general. In this article, she did offer insights that can be quite helpful. Panic attacks are real, and they feel awful. You're not alone in this experience. You most certainly aren't doomed to experience them forever. Do try the things on the list you think you might find helpful. Often, working with a therapist is extremely helpful. And yes, some relief is indeed better than nothing, especially because you can build on it -- some becomes more and more. I hope you continue to visit HealthyPlace and Anxiety-Schmanxiety and find more useful information.
I recently started to have something like panic attacks. I'm not sure what to do even though I'm a medical student. Everything seems to be stupid right in the moment when I feel all this. Like I try to watch a funny video, then I would stop after few seconds and go deeper in panic. This is the same with breathing or telling myself it's okay.
I feel paralysed and that I cannot move on from the problem. Sometimes I burst into crying and I can't seem to stop it.
I found that doing yoga in the mornings helps me to start a more balanced day but it does not prevent a panic feeling when something unexpected happens. I like to do creative things, like bracelets or watch a TV show while I do it - so it will distract me, but I don't want to be distracted in general all the time, I want to be able to live in the present and be okay about it.
I am going through a major change in my life ( religion, moving away...) and although I really want those things, they sometimes make me feel I'm rootless, or I'm alone. Can this thing come from this?
Please if you have any thoughts, share - I don't want to live my life in fear!
It's great that you have found some things (like yoga, distracting yourself with creative activities, etc.) to help you, but I understand what you are saying -- you don't want a band-aid but instead want to feel healed so you can fully live your life. And of course you don't want to constantly be in fear. The good news is that you can get past this frustrating time; anxiety doesn't have to plague you your whole life. I was struck by a thought in reading your comment, but first I must make the disclaimer that I only know the tiniest bit about you from your comment, and I definitely can't make any sort of diagnosis. Instead, I'll share my though for you to look into and consider or dismiss. In answer to your question, yes, your panic, anxiety, crying spells, etc. can most definitely come from the major changes in your life. These are features of an adjustment disorder, or if not a full-blown disorder, then adjustment difficulties. The changes you mentioned are significant, and even when changes are positive because we want them to happen, they can still wreak havoc on our mental health. There are things you can do for adjustment issues, and with patience, time, and implementation of some strategies, your symptoms will recede. Check into adjustment disorders and see if you think anything applies. Good luck to you in all that you are doing!
Thank you for sharing. I am impressed with your website.
I'll publish this to my facebook wall.
I'm glad you found HealthyPlace and Anxiety-Schmanxiety. Thank you so much for putting the info on your Facebook wall to help spread the word. Jodi is the one who wrote this article, but because she is no longer writing for Healthy Place, she's unable to respond to comments. I know she would be very happy to know that you liked it. (And I'm Tanya, by the way, one of the current writers of Anxiety-Schmanxiety.)
Many thanks for taking the time to discuss this, It is extremely useful for
Jodi is the one who wrote this very helpful article. She is no longer writing for HealthyPlace, so she's unable to respond to comments. I know she'd be glad that you found it useful. I hope you come back to HealthyPlace often and find more useful information.
I was searching for this. Really refreshing information. Many
I'm so glad that you found this information. Jodi is the one who wrote this article, but as she is no longer writing for HealthyPlace, she is unable to respond to comments. I'm Tanya, one of the current authors of the column. I just wanted to thank you for your comment and say that we hope you visit HealthyPlace often and find more helpful information.
I Ne'er tried it although they said it will help Maine. When I “wake up” and can start thinking again, I do try to breathe out like if i was blowing candles that are very far. I don’t know if it’s a good technique, but I just do it without believing.
How wonderful that you have found a technique that is helpful for you as you calm your thoughts/quiet your mind. As long as something is safe, there's no such thing as a "good" technique or a "bad" one. Everyone is different. The key is to find what works for you. Thanks for sharing your technique!
You, we are SOOOOOO much bigger than this false and exaggerated fear response but WE need to take charge of our lives and not the other way around. The latter is what got us here to begin with.
Our fear (fight to flight) response is out of whack and can be fixed and the so this is temporary. However the feeling we feel is real.
The psychological response to a panic attack is death however this is FALSE!!!! Your mind is playing tricks on you and you, yes you, are in control of your mind.
See a doctor to rule out a physical problem that is causing the exaggerated response.
There is a HUGE difference between feeling fear and actual danger. There is no danger and the fear is fake. Tell your self this.
YOU ARE NOT IN DANGER. YOUR MIND IS PLAYING TRICKS ON YOU AND IT WILL PASS.
Put a rubber band on your wrist and snap it.
SLOOOW down your breathing. We hyperventilate which makes us feel worse. Breath in sloooooowly through the nose and exhale sloooowly through pursed lips like you are blowing out a candle. As your oxygen levels balance, you will feel better.
COUGH COUGH COUGH!! This can help heart rates slow down to normal levels and rhythms.
Sloooow down your life and rest. Your stress hormone levels are at abnormally high levels usually after sustained stress so it takes time for them to come down to normal levels. Exercise CAN make it worse so be careful.
Drink ice water.
Tell yourself you are stronger than your fear and that there is NO danger and that this will pass.
You can overcome anxiety and panic attacks. I am PROOF!!
However your control of stress triggers, which you may be overly sensitive to because of your caring personality, can be enhanced by taking stress management classes and biofeedback classes.
Stress is caused by our psychological response to stressors, those positive and negative triggers than cause stress. We have unhealthy stress and panic attacks because we HAVE NOT controlled our responses to stress in healthy ways and now our stress hormones and fear response are out of whack.
Improving your response to stress which is very learnable will help keep your stress at manageable not unmanageable levels where they are now.
A trigger only becomes stress when WE LET IT. Our thoughts can become our worst enemy. There actually is very very little in the world that would warrant this exaggerated level of fear. Is a rhino really charging us? Why do we react to silly things in such an exaggerated way? However we all face life's challenges differently and some REALLY are stressful and there are times when we have to deal with the real unpleasant things in our lives. But if our high stress levels go on at too high a level for too long a period of time, then we are putting ourselves at undue risk for a string of ailments and one of them is panic attacks. And if you are an empath like I am and overly compassionate and sensitive to emotional triggers then you are REALLY susceptible to anxiety disorders.
Take charge of your life. Take charge of your response to stress. Learn that your mind is playing trick on you and you will be able to keep stress at MANAGEABLE levels. But like any skill you must practice practice practice.
Be well and live a life you are worthy of!!!
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights. It seems like you've worked hard to overcome stress and anxiety and to live a life you're worthy of. You mention very effective techniques -- and the fact that they've been effective for you indicates that they can indeed be helpful. Each individual will find things that are more effective or less effective depending on his/her personal situation, personality, etc., but these strategies you mention are good ones for people to try. Thanks for sharing, and I think these will be helpful to many here.
Hi mates, its impressive piece of writing on the topic of tutoringand
entirely explained, keep it up all the time.
Jodi wrote this wonderful piece. She is no longer writing for HealthyPlace, so she's unable to respond to comments. At HealthyPlace, we all strive to make this a helpful and welcoming place. Hopefully you will continue to visit!
Hi, I have suffered with panic attacks since I was 16, now being 34 I still suffer but a lot less due to medication. I was placed on cipralex for 10 years which caused high anxiety- they have now stopped it and put me on serdep. I really am considering stopping all the medication and seeing how I feel with no meds. They have diagnosed mine as a chemical imbalance which runs in the family. Anyone have any advice on stopping all meds.
Medication has different effects on different individuals. Some people do well with medication, others don't have a great deal of success. And there are so many different types out there; what works for one person doesn't always work for another. When medication is involved, it is very important to work with a doctor you trust. If you do want to stop meds (and this should be decided with a doctor), it can be very dangerous to just stop. Most need to be tapered gradually. Claire, I encourage to work with your doctor to find the most effective and the safest course of action for you.
I've had panic attacks since I was 13 I'm 28 now they have been on and off come and go for years well here recently they have came back 10x worse my chest on the right side has started to get tight I've been throwing up a lot more with them now I stay up all hours of the night bc I'm scared to go to sleep anyone that can give me some advice please help I'm a mother of two and I'm sick of these things I outside and talk to god but it seems not to be doing any good
Have you consulted with a physician? Given that your panic attack symptoms seem to be changing, having a medical check-up might be helpful. It's good that you are noticing when they are at their worst and what the symptoms are. When you are aware of what happens for you and when it happens, you can use the information to help build a plan. What symptoms are the worst for you? Experiment with things that make those symptoms better. Thinking about when they happen can be helpful in overcoming them, too. What are you doing when the attacks begin? Are you worrying a lot at night, for example? What are the worries? And what things can you do to calm your mind before bed? Your self-awareness is an excellent starting point for reducing the panic.
I used to be afraid to go to bed for fear of waking up with anxiety attacks. I now take clonazepam before bed and sleep with my headphones on, music has helped me a lot. Clonazepam has been a life saver for me. If I have to stay on it long term, I'm fine with that, it doesn't make me any less of a person. I feel your pain.
I have read these posts and suffered through similar panic attacks for many, many years.
Eventually the last few years, when the "aura" comes that I know is a panic attack-very different than anxiety, I say to myself...
THIS IS A PANIC ATTACK, YOU ARE OKAY and so forth.
Since doing this for past few years, I have had very few panic attacks, maybe ten in past 18 months, when I used to have them once a week and lasting for 10-15 mins. Now they last for no more than five and are lessening even more recently.
Hope this helps. The attacks truly are unbelievable in their physiological symptoms. I understand.
It is wonderful to hear that you found something so successful to decrease your panic attacks, Nancy. It's a very effective technique. Thank you for sharing it here for others.
Hello. I have had severe anxiety and panic attacks since I was 15 years old. I am now 35 and I still get them. I used to get them on a daily basis and not be able to control them. They used to make me literally fall start shaking to wear it winds up becoming a seizure with tingling and seeing the room spin and then becoming very dark then my body becoming stiff to the point I would lose all feeling throughout my body not being able to move hyperventilating to the pointof not being able to breathe and I have stopped breathing many times. Over the years I have learned different methods of controlling my anxiety. Some are facing a mirror and yelling at it at the top of your lungs, sitting against a walk and counting backwards, sitting in a hot bath depending on if it isn't to severe, rocking in a fetal position, singing a song that describes who you are and how you feel, reading a book, writing how you feel, dancing, I have even gotten a punching bag to take it out on, walking, running, driving is not a good thing for me, talking with people who make you smile and happy, remembering good memories, focusing on objects that appear close but are far, coloring and all kinds of stuff. I have almost died 17 times do to my anxiety and panic attacks. I have been through therapy to help me with them. I still have them but not as much as I did as a teenager. The last time I suffered a severe anxiety attack was on January 5, 2013. I wasn't feeling good decided to walk and got my phone out called for an ambulance collapsed in a neighbors driveway and a passer in a car stopped and called the police I was told and performed CPR on me because I stopped breathing and had suffered a stroke on top of a severe anxiety attack along with having copd asthma and bronchitis at the time. There is many things that work and some things that don't. I am living proof that it doesn't hurt to try things and that you can survive it.
Marcia, your story is inspiring. You persevered through severe panic attacks for a very long time, and you found the strength to seek help and explore your own ways to reduce the power of your panic attacks. Thank you for sharing this. I think it will inspire many to hang in there and keep trying. You're proof that overcoming panic is possible.
Excellent way of telling, and pleasant post to get information concerning my presentation focus, which i am going to present in college.
Wonderful! I'm glad you found some useful information. Good luck with your presentation.
Amazing post! thanks. I am suffering from panic attack almost 15 year, some people are saying panic can't be curable, but I think they are wrong. I will show them they are wrong.
I am sorry that I haven't read all your comments here. But I know of a few things that have helped me in full blown panic attack: one is fragrance. in particular for me lilac and citrus, preferably an honest lemon but better, grapefruit. Olfactory memories are some of our best and boldest, so setting up memories of happy times, or recalling them from childhood, can help jar our brains back into line.
Also, and you mention some of this with your advice on getting back with the body, temperature can really help. getting really cold either by holding ice cubes and standing in the snow (or an open fridge) may help.
go online and google things like "hope" and read stories.
For those having a bad anxiety attack, if you have no drugs you can take benedryl, or a benedryl similar product like simply sleep or any other tylenol free form of sleep aids in the pharmacy.
turn some music on and dance.
for some people staring at brilliant colors helps a great deal if you are linked to endorphin's that way. and finally, there is sex, or a reasonable facimile. YIKES i already KNEW that! why have i never used it! hahahahahahahha!! :)))))))))))
Just found this on Pinterest. I've struggled with social and general anxiety my whole life, and PTSD the last 6 years. Six years ago I had a horrible panic attack that lasted 2 years- yes, years. For me, learning what a panic attack was, and training myself to recognize the symptoms coming on helped me a lot. Also, figuring out what the root of it is. I've always had people tell me, "When you're depressed, you're living in the past, and when you're anxious, you're living in the future." Well my anxiety comes from suppressed emotions. Identifying what my subconscious is thinking about when my conscious isn't paying attention helps a lot.
I've realized over the couple years that keeping my hands busy helps a lot. I work as a cashier, which is difficult for my social anxiety, but I've found when I keep my hands busy, it helps me not to focus on my fears. I fold tiny boxes out of all the paper I find lying around, because it gives me something external to focus on. Hopefully what's helped me might help someone else in the future!
how did you do it.ptsd.depression drugs? real preciarious situation
Panic disorder sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some people have it while others don't. Researchers have found that several parts of the brain are involved in fear and anxiety. By learning more about fear and anxiety in the brain, scientists may be able to create better treatments. Researchers are also looking for ways in which stress and environmental factors may play a role.--*`
My web blog
My panic attacks occur when I am driving. I have a 35 minute drive to work each day and they seem to come on me about half way there. I have to pull off the road b/c I am afraid of having an accident while I am experiencing one. They have become more and more frequent and I have not been able to drive to work this week. It can also occur when I am riding in the car with someone else driving. What suggestions do you have? It is making it hard for me to get in the car to go anywhere.
I know someone who was afraid of driving and used a drum to sooth her anxiety. She drums before going in the car and the drum rides shot gun the whole way. There is not just one way to heal, there are many options. Please read through my posts, but if you want to work specifically with your issues, feel free to make an appointment!
Taking a cold drink of water helps me. I can't seem to concentrate long enough to watch a youtube video. Also, I start cleaning. That seems to help too. :)
I just started my own anxiety/panic attack blog...
Cool Sarah, I will check it out! Great tip about the water! xo
If you have panic attacks like i had (now i can control them thanks to this) take a look at this site:
I'm really sure that it will help you the same way that it helped me and lot of people more. Please, take a look at it.
This is a great resource and at one point or another I have utilized practically all of the steps you outlined. My preferred method is doing some breathing exercises that I learned when I picked up meditation. They really calmed me down and remove all the stress I was having in the situation until I was eventually able to overcome the feeling of panic and get on with my life. I have a site, http://www.outofmymindbody.com/, where I've been compiling all the important information about panic attacks and posting some things that helped me overcome it -- also thank you for your resource, finding good information all in one place is frustrating.
In moderation, anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, anxiety can help you stay alert and focused, spur you to action, and motivate you to solve problems. But when anxiety is constant or overwhelming, when it interferes with your relationships and activities, it stops being functional—that’s when you’ve crossed the line from normal, productive anxiety into the territory of anxiety disorders.^*^.
My own, personal blog
yea, and It can really cause mental problems, and even physical too. But there is help. God is first and foremost, and knowledge is #power. Read up on it. you'll be surprised what you find out. here's a link to some great info.-->http://fceb9i1ech7k9x2mkitbltmicb.hop.clickbank.net/<--Happy reading!!! — feeling Informational.
Thanks for adding! This is very useful article! ;) I'm writing about depression, panic atacks too.
I have been suffering from anxiety for about 10 years. I have got a lot of advice etc from this web site, <a href="http://http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/
I have had panic attacks since my early 20's and am now 43 years old. In 2002 I went on 20mg of Paxil for 6 years. Three years ago I weaned myself off and was doing fantastic until I suddenly started having panic attacks again. They got progressively worse until I was in a state of panic 24 hrs/day. It was horrible and my life was suspended. I went back on the Paxil, but the attacks have continued in varying degrees. I have decided I have had enough, so I am working on different techniques to work through the attacks. The following are things I am doing to help calm the panic and they are working for me
Distraction - Counting backwards from 100 in increments of 4 or 3. Word search puzzles. There are actually a bunch of apps for iphones that target anxiety.
Conscious breathing - Being aware of the inhale along the back of my throat and exhale along the front of my throat. I practice yoga and this breathing exercise always calms me. Just being aware of my breath and how it feels - not trying to change it - just aware.
Walking/hiking - I come from a family of walkers/hikers. We have always walked for joy and for finding peace.
Mindful mediation - Sitting in meditation nearly every day is bringing me to a state of peace and letting go of the panic much quicker than in the past. I am currently using these two Gathas or short verses in my practice:
"Breathing in, I calm my body,
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment."
"Feelings come and go
like clouds in a windy sky.
is my anchor"
-Thich Nhat Hahn
When I wake in the morning to anxious feelings I am training my mind to immediately go either to distraction counting or breathing the above Gathas. These techniques are calming me in just moments.
Thich Nhat Hahn is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist teacher and has written many beautiful gathas such as the one above. I'm attaching a link if anyone would like to read more of his quotes.
I am grateful to everyone who shares ideas and suggestions for working on panic attacks. My heart goes out to everyone who experiences these feelings. You are NOT alone. Thank you Jodi, for providing your experiences and this place to meet.
Take good care,
Thanks, Heather, you have some great time-tested information here! I am so glad you shared!
Im 23 yrs old, i have had anxiety since may of last yr... im so scared, ive gone to the doctors so much over it, ive had sharp chest pians every once in a while, but the last time i went over it they said it was anxiety... they ran tests and everything.. they said i was good that it only anxiety... but it still scares me bcuz i have no one to talk to when it happens... please message me at email@example.com if someone can talk to me when i have these attacks...
I am glad you are reaching out Christina, I hope one of my readers can connect with you in these times. Ask in other forums also. I can do counseling to help you get rid of them if you want also. Let me know and I'll give you the information. Love, Jodi
I love #9! Burning off some of that anxious energy helps me A LOT when I feel an anxiety attack coming on.
But I can't always just get up and go, like if I'm in a social situation where I need to stay in my seat.
So my backup is breathing exercises. Very simple meditation stuff. Some folks wouldn't even call it REAL meditation, and I'm cool with that =)
I like to close my eyes and just count out my breaths:
Then after every few breaths like that, I try to lengthen each inhalation and exhalation to a count of 5, 6, 7 or more.
By the time I'm stretching my breaths out to 10 seconds in and 10 seconds out...panic is gone.
This is great Chris! Very helpful!
Some good tips here, except that I always found that staring at yourself in the mirror was definitely something not to do. Whenever I realized that I was staring at myself in the mirror, that was a definite giveaway that I was experiencing anxiety. I would recommend the opposite.
Realizing that it is a panic attack, that it is not going to hurt you and that it will soon pass are powerful steps that over time can help to disempower panic attacks over time.
Luckily I was able to overcome my symptoms about 7 years ago using many of these steps and several others. Thanks for sharing!
Ps- sorry for the poor grammar and punctuation- I've been up all night and am a little sleepy to say the least :)