Don’t Panic! Tips For Surviving Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety or Panic Attacks can hit you out of nowhere and can be so severe that you’re convinced you’re dying or that something is SERIOUSLY wrong. Taking steps to manage your stress and anxiety on a regular basis can help reduce the likelihood and recurrence of attacks, but what can you do if you’re already experiencing an attack?

Here are some tips for riding the wave of a panic attack and making it safely back to shore:

  1. Don’t Panic

The first thing that you need to do is recognize the signs of an attack and remember that it is TEMPORARY. During a panic attack your heart will race, you may feel dizzy or disoriented, and your mouth may feel dry, but it is important to remember that it is not as bad as it feels and it will pass.

  1. Don’t Run (if you can help it)

 

It can be very tempting to remove yourself entirely from the space or situation you are in when a panic attack hits but try to resist that urge. Running away may seem helpful, but you are training your brain to be anxious of that situation when you run away from it to feel relief. Instead, try to find relief in other ways that will help train your brain that the place or situation itself is not dangerous.

 

  1. Ground yourself

 

One of the most effective ways to get through a panic attack is to ground yourself. There are several techniques and methods for doing this. Here are some suggestions:

  • Drink some water-
  • Measured or Square breathing- Breathing in a measured pattern (for example, In for four seconds, Hold for seven seconds, Out for eight seconds) or practicing Square breathing serves the dual purpose of grounding you whilst also changing your focus from your panic attack to observing the pattern
  • The 54321 method- This method is also pattern based but focuses more on your senses to ground you. Using this method, you will name 5 things you see in the room, name 4 things you can feel, name 3 things you can hear right now, name 2 things you can smell, and name 1 good thing about yourself. Alternatively, you can choose one object nearby to touch and describe in detail.
  • Recite a mantra- Having a go-to mantra can provide a safe, familiar place for your mind to go during an anxiety attack. It should be positive and remind you that this is temporary and that you are strong enough to handle it. (EX: “I am safe, I am strong, and this feeling will pass”) You can repeat the same one over and over, or have multiples that you cycle through, but try to focus on saying them in a calm, almost monotone way.
  • Exercise your memory- Use declarative memory to ground yourself and bring you back to the present. You can try to list as many brands of candy or breeds of dog that you know or do something as simple as reciting the alphabet backwards.

If you experience chronic anxiety, it would be helpful to choose one of these or find a method that works for you and implement it.

 

  1. Give yourself time

 

Once the worst of the attack has past, make sure you give yourself ample time to feel okay again before you try to resume your daily activities or try to tackle a project or task. Make sure that you have sufficiently calmed and are able to move forward without risking a subsequent attack. Meditating for a short while can help with this.

 

  1. Recognize your triggers

 

If you can, it is helpful to recognize things that trigger your panic attacks. When you recognize what is causing your anxiety or stress to spike, you can take steps to address the underlying issue which will help avoid future episodes.

 

Anxiety attacks can be a scary thing, especially if you don’t understand why they are happening or how to deal with them, but if you use these tips and remember that it will pass, they can be much more bearable.

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36 Replies to “Don’t Panic! Tips For Surviving Anxiety Attacks”

    1. These are general tips that could help anybody suffering from anxiety attacks. I do employ some of them personally (like measured breathing specifically), but it’s important to remember that each person is different and you should find a method, or methods, that work best for you. This could mean trying several different approaches until you find one that works best.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you , I just had a panic attack and I tried the 54321 method and exercised my memory and it helped loads ! You are a life saver !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can be prone to maybe having one severe panic attacks per year. The past two I’ve had have been weirdly self fulfilling. I had a panic attack because I was worrying about having a panic attack. Breathing exercises are almost impossible due to the hammering of my heart rate. The thing I’ve discovered that beats them every time is alcohol. It doesn’t take lots, just around 3 beers. Please understand in no way am I suggesting use alcohol to deal with everyday anxiety. That would be detrimental to all concerned. Right now I’m on holiday in Europe. As soon as I got here I put 3 beers in the fridge. Its while being away in hot weather that I can be most susceptible to an attack. But knowing the beer is sitting there should anything occur late at night means I probably won’t have one.

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    1. The measured breathing works for me specifically BECAUSE of my heart rate. Measured breathing (specifically the 4,7,8 method that I use) actively lowers your heart rate. And I have a fitbit so I can actually visualize the change as it happens which helps to ground me and remind me that it’s not as bad as it feels and is already getting better. It gives me back some sense of control which, for me, is key in getting through them more quickly and less damaged.

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      1. That’s great that it does. My problem is any attempt at controlling breath comes out in broken inhalations and gasps. I suppose it depends on how severely these things manifest. But glad you have something that works for you.

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      2. Oh, I’ve definitely had some very severe, can’t hardly catch my breath attacks. Sometimes I’ll have to start over multiple times before I actually get control over my breathing. Sometimes I have to mix in one or more of the other methods I mentioned, like the 5,4,3,2,1, to get to the point where my measured breathing isn’t gasping for air. Like I said, everyone is different and you just have to find something that works for you. I would recommend trying some other methods rather than relying solely on alcohol, but you could keep it as a back up. Knowing that it’s still there could help you transition to less chemically dependent relief. That could be very helpful, as three beers are not necessarily an appropriate solution in every circumstance.

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      3. I’ve tried breathing exercises every time and achieve nothing. My attacks can come with psychosis and terrifying delusions. They can also last for as long as six hours. Anything that can break or stop that is a big plus to me. And I’ve had professionals tell me the beer thing is OK. I doubt 3 beers are doing as much damage to me as six hours of extreme anxiety. And this only happens about once a year. Also as I said just knowing my method of dealing with it is on hand actually stops it from occurring. Different courses for different horses. I respect different things work for different people.

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      4. Of course! Like I said, I only recommend trying to find another method in case the onset of an attack happens in a circumstance when/where drinking three beers is not a feasible solution. I don’t know your exact situation or triggers, but I do know from personal experience that attacks can happen pretty much anywhere at any time. I just think it’s helpful to have something else in your arsenal, just in case. 🙂

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      5. I couldn’t agree more. Last two times I had these attacks no beer on hand. Had to wait until meds kicked in which took about 5 hours. So a brutal experience. What I’m trying to explain though is I’ve looked in depth at breathing techniques. I’ve attempted them during nearly every attack I’ve had but for me they just don’t work. I’m not saying they’re wrong, they’re just ineffective for me. I wish they did work. This isn’t uncommon. I know many others who require alternative interventions when dealing with these things.

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      6. Breathing techniques aren’t the only other method to consider, though. Again, it’s just a personal recommendation, but I would suggest at least TRYING to find another coping mechanism that does work for you. Like I said, everyone is different, and it may take time to find something that works well for you, but it’s worth the effort.

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      7. OK do you have any suggestions (genuinely) I’ve been living with this for 24 years. I would love to have as many copping strategies on hand as possible. X

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I listed four in the article that aren’t breathing techniques. If none of those work for you, you could explore other methods. The focus should generally be on grounding yourself and regaining control of the situation. Perhaps a psychologist could help you find a plan tailored specifically to you. Or there are tons of other resources online, if you’d like to go the trial and error route.

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      9. 24 years Connie. I’ve tried a lot of stuff. I know one thing that absolutely works every time. But thanks for your advice. I suppose there are all kinds of different levels to these things. I’ve seen many a psychologist. One very common bit of advice they give is what works for others might not work for you.. And vice versa. I’m actually in a hot country abroad just now which is where the problem last occurred and has a pattern of occurring. But I’ve put my coping strategy in place (first time I’ve taken this approach) and reckon (hopefully not tempting fate) that this year I’ve finally nailed it. Keep good and keep up the good advice. X

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      10. Well I’m glad that you’ve found something that is able to give you some relief and I wish you all the best.

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  3. Perfect… I love finding others that struggle as well… I started Art from my anxiety and panic attacks. Right now dealing with my 15 yr old suffering from anxiety and depression it sucks!! Stay Strong to all

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sorry to hear that you struggle with it as well, but I’m glad you were able to make something positive out of it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

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