Panic attacks are intense, and they can’t always be avoided. However, there are some techniques you can use to either mitigate the impact of a panic attack, or even stop it before it starts. Here’s what you can try — and remember, the only way to know what works for you is to try.
1 – Control your breathing
Taking deep, slow, and deliberate breaths can help reduce some of your symptoms during a panic attack. This is tricky to do, since the boost of adrenaline that comes with such attacks makes your body want to hyperventilate. Being able to take control over your breathing during a panic attack can make a huge difference, often greatly decreasing the strength of the attack, while letting you retain a sense of control during the experience.
However, it can be hard to focus on your breathing when panic catches you by surprise. This is why you should practice taking deep, relaxing breaths do deal with other sources of stress throughout your day. That will get you accustomed to using your breathing as a relaxation tool, which will increase the odds that you’ll remember to use it when your next panic attack comes around.
2 – Close your eyes
When the source of your stress is external, closing your eyes can help you shut off the outside world and gain some control over yourself and your mental state. That, in turn, can help you manage your panic attacks a little better. This is especially useful if you are in a busy or crowded environment.
3 – Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of grounding yourself in the moment, often by focusing on a specific object or sensation in your environment. Any sensation you are familiar with — like the feel of your feet inside your shoes, the texture of your jeans, or touching your own face — can be something that brings you back to the moment when you focus on it. That, in turn, can help make a panic attack feel less overwhelming.
Like with breathing, this is a technique you need to practice outside moments of panic so it’ll be effective during a panic attack.
4 – Use a muscle relaxation technique
Muscle relaxation is a good way to go directly against what your body wants to do during a panic attack, which can help alleviate the symptoms. Panic makes your body tense up, getting ready to fight or flight. You can counter that by practicing how to relax your body and your muscles systematically and at will.
Often, muscle relaxation techniques involve you focusing on a single part of your body, like unclenching your fists or your jaw. Then, you start relaxing the rest of your body, focusing on one part at a time, as if going down a checklist. Since feeling like you are out of control can make panic attacks more intense, having a step by step guide on how to relax your body can greatly increase your quality of life during those attacks.
5 – Picture your happy place
Yes, that’s a cliché, but it does work. If the idea of a happy place sounds stupid to you, remember that any happy image work. It can be the face of a loved one or the image of the sky at night. If images don’t do it for you, try focusing on other types of vivid sensory memories, such as sounds, melodies, or smells that make you happy. The sound of waves crashing on the shore is a popular one, as is the sound of rain outside.
There are also plenty of natural remedies that have been shown to help people deal with panic and anxiety. CBD, for example, has also shown some promising results in this area, and CBD from trustworthy laboratories will not lead to a positive drug test.