My anxiety is trauma based, and is more about making sure I feel safe than anything. That is just my experience, these ideas will work differently for each person, but try what works for you! There are two different types of Attacks and they need to be handled differently (I have not seen studies on this but I know it to be true from experience). There are those caused by a mental state of mind (these are what I have). Then there are those caused by the body but it feels mental (this is what most people face. I will list ways to help both.
These are not the most common and are more likely caused by trauma than anything. Unlike most panic attacks they start in the mind and move to the body. These need to be cut off the second they start and involve lots of mental warfare. I have lots of experience with all the ways you can help these.
1. Stop your repetitive thinking, stop your repetitive thinking.
Before an attack ever occurs I begin to get stuck in my mental Process. I think something like “I can’t do this”, Then I may rant in my head for a minute and come back to the same thought “I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I can’t do this”. At that point I am gone, the attack is coming. The best thing to do is interrupt the pattern. There are many ways to do that here are some of my favorites:
A. Ask a rebuttal. Something like, “Why can’t I do this?” and then come up with reasons you can do whatever it is you are worried about. Most of the time I am not even worried over a specific event so there is no “IT”
B. Blurt out what you are thinking. At first this may make it worse, but If you have a friend around they will help interrupt that pattern.
C. Create a positive Repetition. This one may take persistence, but is one of the most effective. Try to think of something positive, like “I am fine”, “God will take care of it”, “I can do anything”. Kind of like the woman from “The Help” (You is kind, you is smart, you is important). Since you are already thinking in repetition this shouldn’t be too bad. Even if you go back to the bad thought keep trying, for me it looks something like this: “I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I can’t do this. Yes, I can.. Nothing is wrong, nothing is wrong, I can’t do this, nothing is wrong, nothing is wrong.
C is honestly my favorite because it calms you down, and combats your thoughts, while still letting you feel freaked out because you are still being repetitive.
2. Do anything to feel safe!!!
For some people that is standing in a corner, or away from doors. some people need people standing very close, maybe hugging. One time I was getting anxious and my husband just laid on top of me, the pressure and the weight made me feel safe (although he was doing it to make me laugh.) For some people laying on them like that would make it worse because they feel like they can’t escape. It all depends on the persons needs. Just follow your instinct. I always have this irrational need to sit in a ball on the floor so sometimes that is what I do, and it helps.
3. Make Something warm to drink. This will distract your mind by giving you something to do. It will create a sense of normalcy. This also helps because the warmth of the drink, it is proven to create the same calming hormones as a good and long hug. It knocks out two birds with one stone. It helps a lot more than it sounds.
4. Enlist a friend. If you have a friend who is around you enough to help with panic attacks this is important. They do not need to baby you. If it has worked in the past then keep doing it, but I know many people whom babying did not help. The best thing is to be stern, they need to tell you that you are okay, remind you where you are, and tell you to snap out of it. Yes those words can be mean and hurt at the time, but it works. I learned this one from my husband. During the worst panic attack I have ever had, I didn’t even know where I was! He tried to comfort me for a minute telling me the basics of reasons why I was okay. Then he began Yelling at me. For me this is the best thing he could have done! Every time I would get more upset and quicken my breath and get more scared he would yell that I needed to stop and calm down. This did two very important things.
a. Disrupted my thoughts. I couldn’t even think over him yelling. It took me out of the bad place that I took myself into, it pulled me back into reality.
b. Gave me motivation to get out of it. I am a BIG people pleaser at heart. When he began yelling I felt that me being in this state might upset him so I tried even harder to get out of it.
5. Cool Down. Go to the bathroom, grab some paper towels and wet them. Flap them through the air a few times and they will be cold. Run these paper towels around your temples, under your hair, and behind your ears. My friend did this to me during my first panic attack and it helped very quickly.
This is when your body begins to freak out and it affects you mentally. This is the cause of most panic attacks. You can be sitting at home doing nothing and your body can go into defense mode. Your pupils will dilate, your breathing will be shallow and adrenaline will pump supper hard. To misquote a good movie (Mr. Nobody) It is like you are being chased by a bear but no one can help you find it, and if you would just wake up you would realize that it is really just a small little bunny.
1. State the facts. Tell yourself what is really going on. If you have ever read The Hunger Games this is what Katnis uses to fight her panic. She starts with her name and age, then talks about where she lives. Eventually she gets up to where she is at the time and what her situation is. This will help your mind calm down as it faces reality. This method has the added benefit of feeling hard core because you have seen a rockin’ movie hero use the same techniques.
I know this is counter intuitive and it is the last thing you want to do, but trust me, try it. This method focuses on calming your body. Eating tells your body that it is not in trouble. After all no one being chased by a bear stops to eat, no they use that adrenaline to run. I’m not saying to stress eat or stuff yourself, I’m just saying that a granola bar could do wonders.
3. Drink water. Water is proven to help shock. Right after a car accident the first thing you should do is drink some water. I fractured my finger yesterday, I felt a panic attack coming on, along with nausea and dizziness. The first thing I did was chug a bottle of water. I can not stress to you enough how much it helped! All of the panic left immediately.
4. Focus. Find something to focus on, distract yourself until it passes. This could be anything from a stress ball to twiddling your thumbs, to phone games. Do anything to calm yourself and create focus.
5. Slow Down your Breathing. This treats your body and mind. There are ways of breathing that slows down your heart rate. It gives you something to focus on. This is a lot more important than it sounds, it is the best way to control what your body is doing.
*It is very important that if you are having panic attacks you talk to your Doctor. It can be a medical problem and can lead to heart attacks and stuff. It is a medical problem not a mental problem. It is not worth living with panic attacks, it cost you too much not to say anything about it. Your doctor may prescribe medicine, natural remedies, or mental training in order to help with what you are going through.