How I Cope with Panic Attacks from Chronic Anxiety
I have found that one of the most difficult aspects of dealing with chronic anxiety is coping with panic attacks. Even though I've learned how to lessen the effects of panic attacks over time, I can still be unexpectedly blindsided by one.
To make matters worse, sometimes I anticipate having a panic attack, which causes -- you guessed it -- more anxiety. It can sometimes then become a vicious anxiety-inducing cycle. That is why it has become so important for me to be aware of what panic attacks feel like and what I can do about it.
What a Panic Attack Feels Like to Me
When I experience a panic attack, it feels like my body is "slammed" by an onslaught of anxiety symptoms in full force, all at once. I immediately experience a rapid heartbeat; I suddenly have a hard time breathing; I feel light-headed, nauseous, and I begin to tremble. I also feel a tremendous amount of fear, and often there is no logical reason for this. Sometimes, the momentary panic is so intense that I experience tunnel vision and can't focus. It is truly a terrible feeling that I find not only mentally hard to deal with, but physically hard to deal with as well.
How I've Learned to Cope with Panic Attacks
Even though it is a terrible feeling, I have learned how to cope with panic attacks and deal with them in a way that the anticipation of it happening again is not something I am constantly worried about. This is how I've learned to cope:
- I breathe slowly to slow my heart rate. I've learned that if I can manage the physical symptoms of anxiety, it lessens the length and intensity of the panic attack. Primarily, I slow my heart rate. I take deep breaths in slowly, hold them for a beat, and then let them out slowly. This slows down my heart rate.
- If I am around someone I trust, I immediately verbalize what I am feeling. I find that if I do this, it allows a release of emotion that helps to calm me. This is one of the reasons I think it is so important to have a strong support system. Having someone to turn to that you can trust and that you can share your fears with can be instrumental for being able to calm and ground yourself so that your anxiety does not escalate.
- I use grounding techniques. I focus on different things I can see, hear, feel, and smell. If I don't keep myself grounded, my anxiety can get worse, and I can start feeling worse. It's almost like a hot air balloon that begins taking off. I need something to keep me anchored to the ground. Focusing on things that I am taking in through my senses helps me to stay anchored.
Panic attacks can be difficult to endure, and experiencing anxiety about panic attacks can only make them worse. Try using some of these techniques to help de-escalate your panic when you feel it coming on. Share in the comments below any strategies you use to cope with panic attacks.
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2020, October 13). How I Cope with Panic Attacks from Chronic Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, May 14 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2020/10/how-i-cope-with-panic-attacks-from-chronic-anxiety
Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez
This may sound silly but when I have a panic attack, I sing.
Singing regulates your breathing again which in turn lessens that feeling like you can’t breathe
That does not sound silly at all! This is an excellent suggestion; thank you for sharing!
All the best,