Panic attacks can be really scary, especially when you don’t know what to do when one creeps up on you. We understand it’s not always easy to think clearly during a panic attack, but knowing a few basic things could help you overcome one faster, or help a friend who is having one. If you ever get one, try to remember these 10 super simple things to do during a panic attack.
Breathing during a panic attack is really important because the feelings of panic can heighten if you breathe too quickly. So breathe slowly. If you are having one now, take a look at the GIF below and try to breathe in as the circle expands, and out as it gets smaller.
2. Sit down
When you have a panic attack you can feel very spaced out, everything can seem surreal and out of touch. It can feel like you aren’t real and everything is far away. So you need to sit down and try and keep as still as you can without stressing yourself out more.
This way things will seem much less intimidating as you won’t have the added anxiety of trying to hold yourself together when you’re feeling unsteady. Panic attacks can last for up to an hour, so you never know how long they may last. Make sure you’re sat down, that way you’re safe and as comfortable as you can be in the circumstances.
3. Have some water
This will help make you feel better because you’ll be focussing your mind on holding a bottle and drinking! Not only that, but water will hydrate you and make you generally feel better by giving you something to focus on that will help to keep you grounded.
4. Take yourself out of your head and try and bring yourself into reality
Panic attacks can be because of loads of different things, but usually panic attacks come with negative thoughts. So if you try and bring yourself out of your head and into reality this may help lessen the panic feelings. It’s easier said than done but try and remember that everything is OK. You’re just thinking these scary thoughts in your mind and whilst they feel very, very real, a panic attack doesn’t cause any physical danger – it just feels like it is.
5. Look around you and do the 5 senses check – what can you hear, taste, see, smell and touch?
This one really works wonders and helps bring you back into reality. So place yourself in your surroundings and observe. Firstly, what can you hear? What can you taste? What can you see? What can you smell? What can you touch?
6. Think of things which make you feel happy and peaceful
Take yourself to a happy place. Whether it be a happy memory or a place you know and love. It’ll help calm you down. If you can’t think of a real place then use your creative imagination to think up any calming scene imaginable… Think of lying in the warm sun on a white sandy beach with the sound of waves lapping up on the shore.
7. Don’t judge or entertain your thoughts
Just let them be and think of your thoughts like leaves passing down a stream. Watch them as they pass through your mind. In one side and out the other… If you judge your thoughts it’ll cause more anxiety and panic feelings. So just let them be and don’t judge.
8. But also recognise what might have triggered your panic attack and what is causing you this distress
Despite not entertaining the negative thoughts, it’s also important to acknowledge what might have triggered the panic attack. This way you may be able to address some of the deep rooted issues causing your panic and anxiety.
9. Talk it over with someone when the panic attack is over or another time when you’re feeling ready
You can chat to a close friend, partner or trusted adult like a parent or teacher. You can also go and see your GP about panic attacks, who might be able to recommend some stress coping techniques and possibly some further support. If these are not an option for you, then you can talk to one of our mentors on the Ditch the Label Community here.
10. Rest up after as it can knock the life out of you
Make sure that after a panic attack you take it easy. They are very scary and can make you feel very upset for a while after the panic attack has passed. So don’t try and rush back into getting on with things, take your time and only continue with your day when you feel ready.
Take a look at some of our other stuff on stress, anxiety and more below: