Imagine your physical symptoms overwhelming you, often appearing from nowhere. Your mind and body working to convince you that you are about to:
- Throw up in public
- Lose control of your mind
- Make an embarrassing scene
- Stop breathing
Panic disorder can take over your whole existence. Stripping you of your vibrancy, your confidence and your ability to enjoy life. Panic attacks occur randomly without warning, anytime and in any place.
But…. there are things that we can do to alleviate the anxieties which accompany panic disorder, and reduce the impact of panic attacks on a day to day basis.
There are 5 key skills you can rely on to keep panic under control.
Explore your psychological self from within, and educate yourself about the general condition. Understanding where your feelings of anxiety come from is important if you want to move forward during a panic attack.
Research, research and do more research! Knowing all you can about anxiety will help you to be more aware. And knowledge is power right?
Understanding your triggers will help you to manage your behaviours. Through managing your behaviours you can feel more in control of your body’s responses. For example, when your heart beats faster your breathing also quickens to match it, so just knowing this, means that by managing your breathing you can reduce your heart rate. Behaviour = Control = Response
When your body is in ‘fight or flight’ mode, your breathing becomes more rapid and shallow. During a panic attack it becomes more difficult to take a good, deep breath.
When your breathing is not regulated you may start to feel other physical symptoms like tingling in your fingers or feet. This can bring on more anxiety and so the cycle continues.
You can control and regulate your breathing:
- Move your attention to your navel, rather than your chest
- Breathing into your tummy instead of your lungs
- Taking slower and more steady breaths
- Counting is useful so 1…2…3….4… in….. hold a second…and 1…2…3….4 out…
Breathing more purposefully will bring down your heart rate, reduce dizziness and will regulate your oxygen intake.
Many people swear by the Wim Hof method as a breathing tool for managing anxiety.
Check your thoughts
Being aware of your own thoughts is critical to developing a positive mindset.
Much of the time, an anxious thinker will be anticipating the absolute worst in every situation and their focus will usually be leading them to some sort of doomed, catastrophic, dreadful & horrible ending!
The likelihood of it actually happening is probably close to zero.
Gain control by allowing yourself to think through situations, but on this occasion try to focus more on the positives whilst accepting the negatives.
Think about times when you have successfully worked through challenges in the past. Become mindful and aware of your thought processes.
Have a face-off with your fears
Each time we run away from something that we’re afraid of, we reinforce in our mind that it is something that is harmful, dangerous, or too challenging to face.
By making a decision to expose yourself to the things that scare you, you are already half way to overcoming that panic attack. Allow the stronger voice in you to guide you. Don’t always give in to the runner!
This takes time, resilience and patience. Take small steps. Start on your good days when you feel courageous. And don’t give yourself a hard time when you do need to run. Just try again another time.
Your Body is a Temple
Looking after your health is our final tip for managing your mental well-being. If you abuse your body, your mind will react accordingly.
We recommend 4 essential things for an anxious mind:
- Eating nutritional food, i.e. fruits and vegetables
- Regular hydration with water
- Exercising daily i.e. walking, running, cycling, swimming
- Creating a good sleeping routine, step away from the gadgets and wind down
There are many health gurus online who share their knowledge willingly so use their expertise to maximise your physical potential.
Panic attacks can be drastically reduced, or even eliminated from your life.
At times it’s much easier to create a personal escape plan with the help of a professional. So don’t struggle alone, the ME Project team will support you on your journey.