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?
LCSW-R, J. (2012, May 2). Ten Tools That Help Relieve Panic Attacks, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 19 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!
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.)
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'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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!! :)))))))))))
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!
My web blog
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!
I just started my own anxiety/panic attack blog...
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.
My own, personal blog
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,
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.
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!