Panic attacks can be a scary and overwhelming experience. They can happen unexpectedly and make you feel like you're losing control. Although panic attacks are not life-threatening, they can be very distressing and affect your daily life.
If you are someone who experiences panic attacks, it's important to know that there are things you can do to manage them. Dr Arouba Kabir, Mental Health counsellor and Founder of Enso Wellness, Bangalore, India, shared some effective techniques for managing panic attacks in an interview with this writer.
Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is a simple and effective way to reduce anxiety and calm your mind. When you feel a panic attack coming on, focus on your breath and take slow, deep breaths.
"Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, and then exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four. Repeat this process several times until you feel calmer," Dr Arouba said.
Use positive self-talk
Positive self-talk is an excellent way to counteract negative thoughts and emotions. When you feel a panic attack, try replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. For example, instead of thinking, "I can't handle this," tell yourself, "I am strong and capable, and I will get through this." Repeat positive affirmations to yourself until you feel calmer.
Practice mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a technique that involves focusing your attention on the present moment without judgment.
"When you feel a panic attack coming on," Dr Arouba explained, "Try to focus your attention on your breath and observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment. Mindfulness meditation can help you feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed."
Use relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and yoga can help you reduce anxiety and stress. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups, starting with your feet and working your way up to your head.
Guided imagery involves imagining a peaceful scene or scenario to help you relax. Yoga combines physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
Seek professional help
If you experience panic attacks frequently, it's essential to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you identify triggers and develop coping strategies. They may recommend therapy, medication, or a combination of both to help manage your symptoms, Dr Arouba advised.
Create a panic attack plan
Creating a panic attack plan can help you feel more prepared and in control when you experience an attack. Your plan should include a list of coping strategies, emergency contact numbers, and what to do if you can't manage the attack independently. Share your plan with a trusted friend or family member so they can support you if needed.
Engage in physical activity
Physical activity is an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety. "When you feel a panic attack coming on, try engaging in physical activity such as walking, jogging, or doing jumping jacks. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters that can help you feel more relaxed and less anxious," Dr Arouba added.
Identifying and avoiding triggers can help you reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks. Common triggers include caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and stressful situations. Pay attention to what triggers your attacks and try to avoid them as much as possible.
According to Dr Arouba, practising self-care is important in managing panic attacks. Ensure you get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and engage in activities that bring you joy. Take time each day to do something that makes you feel happy and relaxed.
Stay connected with others
Staying connected with others is essential for mental health and well-being. When you feel a panic attack coming on, try to reach out to a trusted friend or family member for support. Having someone to talk to can help you feel less alone and more supported. If you don't feel comfortable reaching out to someone you know, consider joining a support group for people who experience panic attacks.
Panic attacks can be a challenging experience, but there are many things you can do to manage them. From practising deep breathing to engaging in physical activity, there are numerous techniques you can use to reduce anxiety and calm your mind.