But First, Take a Deep Breath

When the panic or anxiety hits, we have you covered.

Photo by Tim Gouw.

You come home from a long day of work and nothing has gone right. You spilled coffee on your favorite new blouse that cost you around $50 at H&M. Then, when you were only five minutes away from being cozy at home someone suddenly rear ends your car. That’s the end of it, right? Nope, because the moment you finally get home you see that your dog got into the trash bin and spilled food everywhere. As you stare at the mess, you start to feel a burning sensation in your chest. You run short of breath and begin to lose control of your body.

What you’re experiencing is called a panic attack.

I’ve found myself wrapped up in experiences like this that resulted in massive panic attacks. Not everyone understands what they are, or what to do when this happens to you. But dealing with this since 2009, I have gradually gained confidence in slowing myself down and believing and understanding that my strength is bigger than any attack that comes my way.

Handling panic attacks can be a challenge. With numerous articles on the web on how to handle panic attacks, someone could get lost in the sea of suggestions. As someone who experiences them, I’m here to help you cope with the effects of panic attacks & anxiety based on what I have personally done to calm my surroundings.

For me, the best way to overcome panic attacks is to recognize the symptoms and to train yourself to respond in a calm and accepting way. Panic attacks can be unprovoked and unpredictable; they make you feel seized with terror or fear. Below I’ve compiled my favorite methods to use to help soothe my panic attacks, which could help yours as well, whether they last five seconds or five minutes.

When the attack really starts to take over your body, it’s hard to think about anything, no matter where you are. The first method on my list I have used time and time again is something called the AWARE method. Sounds awkward, I know. But if you really take the time for some self-care it truly does the trick. I’ll be running over all of the steps. So let’s do this, we got this!

1. Accepting that the attack is happening and alive, not trying to fight it, because it will not take the panic away.

2. Watch the anxiety, observe the changes in your body while it starts to arise.

3. Act normal, Breathe normal, and remain calm. Yes, it seems silly to say that you have to “act normal” when you’re in a state like this, but it’s the most crucial step of this process. If you can allow the nervous feelings and anxiety in your body to feel like energy, such as the energy you get when your excited, well then that’s already a step to overcoming it.

4. Repeat steps 1, 2, and 3. If the anxiety is not reduced to an acceptable level for yourself yet, then go back to the beginning. You will see that as you repeat the cycle, calmness will take over.

5. Lastly, Expect the best, and what I mean by that is practice makes perfect, so practice this every time you have the slightest amount of anxiety forming up in your shell.

Another method I have is thinking of panic attacks like energy, which is the simplest way to think about it. Anxiety cannot harm you, and neither can panic attacks. Once you start training your brain to let go of those icky uncomfortable feelings that overwhelm you, you get on track to releasing the toxic loop triggering the panic attacks. This might sound crazy, but once we allow the sensations of anxiety to take their course, the more you are comfortable with what is happening in the moment.

Think of it as if your headphones are all tangled up. Most people freak out and try to untangle them as quickly as possible, only leading themselves to disappointment as their earphones become more and more tangled. But if you realize what’s happening and patiently handle the tangled headphones, you’ll loosen them up quicker than you thought. This is how we can sort out panic attacks. I know it all seems easier said than done, but it’s possible.

It’s like trying to form muscle, I had to train myself to get comfortable and allow the flow of anxiety take over. Remember, you are in control, not the panic attack.

While these methods work for me, remember that anxiety and panic attacks vary from person to person so the AWARE method might not be for everyone. So, if you still need help, look into your local Suicide Hotline, and if worst comes to worst, dial 911. Anxiety and panic attacks are not a game, for anyone. But know as long as you care for yourself, and look for the help that you need, abundance will drip over you like honey.