When I had my first panic attack I was so confused. I was 13, sitting in a maths lesson and my heart started pounding. My hands became clammy, my breathing started to pick up and my vision went blurry. I can’t remember what happened after that. The next thing I remember was sitting outside the classroom with my teacher kneeling in front of me looking shocked. She told me I had a panic attack, and as soon as I got home I made it my mission to know everything about them.
The first thing I Googled was how to cope with them. I wanted to know how to stop them or at least stop them from escalating. So here are 5 ways to cope with panic attacks.
1) Name 5 Things
Whatever room or area you’re in, look for 5 objects in that room and start to think about them. Think about how they were made, why they were made, what use the object has, will it break if you drop it from a height, things like that. The reason for doing this is once you give your brain something to concentrate on, the panic will start to subside. Thinking about things you can see really draws your mind back to the present and everything starts to become a little less overwhelming.
2) Find A Comforting Sound
The main bulk of my panic attacks would happen at school, it was somewhere that I felt incredibly on edge. So to combat this, I made a recording on my phone of the general sounds of my house to listen to when I started to panic. For example, my recording had my Mum loading the dishwasher, my dog barking, and my Dad and my Sister talking. Listening to the hustle and bustle of my house instantly calmed me down and made me feel like my family were there with me, even if I was on my own.
3) Count Your Breath
It’s a really obvious thing to do when you’re having a panic attack but sometimes the hardest to complete. Slowing your breathing down makes it impossible to hyperventilate, so you need to tackle that first. To slow my breathing I breathe in for 8 counts, hold it for 3 counts and let it out through my mouth for 5 counts. Keep repeating this until your breathing starts to slow.
4) Count Your Surroundings
Often the repetitive rhythm of counting can calm the mind. For example, how many chairs in the room, then how many legs on the chairs. Keeping your mind busy really helps to distract yourself, it’s also repetitive, which is calming.
5) Picture Your Happy Place
Like I said earlier, I had a recording of my family home on my phone. I also have a picture of all of my family as my phone background. This helps me to visualise the place and the people I feel the most calm. So whatever place you feel the most comfortable in, have a picture of it on your person, or just have it at the forefront of your mind so you can access it when you’re panicking.
Have you tried any of these techniques before? What helps you cope with panic attacks? Leave a comment below!