The feeling of an oncoming panic attack is like a wave; managing the panic attack seems hopeless. It begins by lapping at your feet, or at the outermost portions of your brain. Oh no, what if I get anxious right now.
Oh no, I don’t want to feel this way! Oh no!
Then, that wave of panic acts like a vacuum, taking all of your skills and knowledge with it as it builds momentum. You forget who you are, what you can do, that you can do something, who is on your side, and sometimes you forget which way is up as the anxiety sucks the energy out of you. The terror is building, and alone you brace yourself, cover your face with your hands, and curl into a ball.
The last thing you think before it crashes down on you is, I can’t live this way.
During these times, what is the best way to manage a panic attack?
How to Manage a Panic Attack
Ride the wave of panic.
Rather than brace yourself in resistance to the forces of the wave of panic, what would happen if you went with it? Most of the time, those of us who suffer anxiety worry that “going with it” will have the anxiety overcome us; that we’ll go off a cliff somewhere and never return. But that is not what happens. It is the opposite.
This is what happens when you ride the wave of panic…
The panic attack is shorter and far less terrifying. It wouldn’t take days to recover from the after-effects of panic. You won’t be completely exhausted, re-planning your life, or reaching for medicine. You’ll be calmer and confident. You’ll handle the next panic attack better.
Here is how to ride the wave and manage a panic attack:
1. Don’t be afraid. If you think of it as an Panic Wave, you know it is temporary. You’ve done it before, you can do it again. Not being afraid will take the power away from Anxiety, who needs you to be afraid for it to exist. Let it flow over you, so it can keep moving and go away faster.
2. Move. Moving helps your mind and body stay empowered. Moving feels like you are doing something and it gives the adrenaline something to do, rather than just terrorize you. Pace the floor, walk around the house, go outside for a walk. Just move your body.
3. Talk. Anxiety held inside of you has more power. Stay with people, call someone, or talk out loud to yourself. Say aloud all of the thoughts in your head. Even if they are irrational. This takes the power away from them. It gets them out of your mind. Say what you feel. Don’t worry about how you sound. Allow it all out.
4. Breathe. Don’t forget to breathe. You can do it. This won’t last. When we panic and have trouble breathing, mostly we are forgetting to exhale. Try to exhale slowly. It will help regulate your breathing.
5. Feel empowered. Keep faith and trust in yourself. You got this. When you start to feel the panic attack wane, have confidence in yourself that you did it. Shake your body to let the rest of the energy out, (like you’re shaking water off your hands.)
Enjoy the relief.
Did you ever feel panic like a wave?