If you have experienced a panic attack you may have felt like this:
Your heart races and you can’t think straight, you might be sobbing or dry heaving. You can’t catch your breath and your body is shaking. You don’t know what is going on but you know something is wrong and it feels like you are dying. Maybe it feels like a heart attack or like you are going crazy.
You can check out this video of a Victim of Panic Attacks to get a better idea
Panic attacks or anxiety attacks can strike at any moment, sometimes they happen at home, sometimes at work, even in the car. They are difficult to predict and harder still to stop. You may be more likely to have panic attacks if anxiety runs in your family, if you are a planner, or if you experience a lot of stress for a long period of time. Sometimes people without a history of anxiety or panic will have a panic attack after a personal loss or a significant life change.
Does any of that sound like you? If you have had a panic attack before it is likely that you are afraid of having another one, you may even be avoiding the place or situation that triggered your last one. The fear of panic here makes sense, that is a very scary experience and it feels terrible, but holding on to the fear may increase the likelihood that you will have another panic attack. But what do you do instead of worry about having another attack? After all, you can’t outrun this thing or ignore it until it goes away.
Has anyone ever told you to just breathe? That sounds like a pretty flimsy fix for a full blown attack, but deep breathing is the only action you can take during a panic attack to regain control of your body. When you using deep breathing it triggers your parasympathetic nervous system to help regulate your body and get things under control. The more you practice the better you are at controlling your panic response.
So how does that work? Find a comfortable seat and relax your muscles. Rest your arms and settle your legs. If you have a clock or a metronome (anything that can keep a steady beat) use that to count a deep belly breath in for 4-6 counts in through your nose. Then exhale through your mouth for 4-6 counts, same number out as you took to take in. As you exhale purse your lips together like you are pushing air through a drinking straw. Continue to use this deep breathing until you feel more relaxed and in control of your body. Practice deep breathing at least once a day for about 5 minutes, this is a great way to start your day or a nice way to wind down before bed. Remember the more you practice the better you are at taking back control!1
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