I started having panic attacks in my twenties. I don’t know if it was a result of all the alcohol in my system, bipolar disorder, life, or a combination of all three. I’m leaning towards that last one. They can seem life threatening and certainly can be devastating. The first one I had I was in a grocery store standing in line and I literally thought I was going to die. How did I deal with them back then? I drank. How do I deal with them now? Many ways. One important aspect to realize as you read these steps (and these are just a few that help) is control. Remember you have control not the panic.
1. Take deep breaths. You’re in complete control of your breaths not the panic. It’s your lungs, you are the one breathing.
2. Rub your temples in a circular motion. Again just this simple act can make your mind realize you are in control of your body, not the feeling of panic.
3. Drinking a glass of chilled water can actually help you feel better get your nerves in order. I don’t have a PhD and I have no clue why but I know it works.
4. Force yourself to get your mind involved in something; watching TV, reading a book, writing. It’ll take a little while to force your mind onto something else but with practice you’ll be able to get there and hey you might (I can’t promise this) accomplish something meaningful in the process.
5. If you can’t sit for obvious reasons stand up and pace around (I’m surprised I haven’t paced through my kitchen floor yet) or walk or jog in place until your mind eases. Jumping jacks also can help. Don’t forget to breath as you are doing this!
6. Rational thinking – All kinds of negative thoughts pass through your head when you experience a panic attack. These thoughts are unfounded. It can help to shout STOP!!! inside your head to stop your negative thoughts in their tracks. Or hey shout it out loud, it’s sure to stop something or well someone. It’s also a great way to remind your thoughts that you are the one in control not the feeling of panic.
7. Breathe into a paper bag. This trick really does work, I’ve done this one more than one occasion. Of course doing it in the check out line at the grocery store gets you a few looks but it can also get you ahead in line.
8. I suck at math, it’s not my cup of tea unless I have a calculator handy however simple math can pull you out of your panic filled thoughts, again it reminds you of the fact that you do have control over your body. If you don’t want to do multiplication or division just do the simple act of counting from 1 to 100 or 100 to 1.
And lastly there are many medications out on the market that can help you with a panic disorder, if you can afford them why not seek that help out? I would if I could.
If you have ever had to deal with a panic attack, what helped you?