It’s no secret that life can feel too overwhelming sometimes. And a panic attack is a strong sign of this overwhelm.
Having a panic attack is a sign that we have so much going on at once. Residents of Simi Valley are often juggling both work and home life. If it’s not your boss putting unrealistic deadlines on you then it’s your sister having a breakdown over her recent breakup. If it’s not about your sister then maybe it’s your son’s teacher calling you that she is worried about his recent outburst with a peer. We place so much on our minds and bodies with all of these to do’s, worries, and stressors going on at the same time. Our mind can only take so much. And when our mind is on overload, that can affect us physically too.
Our body can go into a fight or flight response that is so physically and mentally strong that it can feel really alarming. As a response you can have detriments to your sleep, relationships, confidence, and much more.
If you live your life with this level of overwhelm and panic attacks it can be all consuming.
Worrying about a triggering event occurring and a consequential panic attack can affect your ability to live your life and enjoy the moment. Much of the time it’s hard to even know when a panic attack may occur. This can feel so very frustrating and scary for many people.
Maybe it looks like this for you
You have a stressful day at work while you are trying to complete a project and you are under a time crunch. You know you have to get home because you have company coming over for dinner and your wife is expecting you to come early. Your wife calls you at the same time you realize that you have a section of that project that you forgot to complete. You recognize that your heart starts beating faster, you start having a hard time breathing, and you know a panic attack is coming. You try to tell yourself to STOP because you know how horrible it can feel but your mind starts to race and your hands become sweaty. You feel the need to pace and sit and you don’t know what to do with yourself.
Continually living your life this way really takes away from enjoying the moment and feeling happy. This comes across in all parts of your life.
Today we are talking about how to take control of these panic attacks so that you can better take hold of life and not feel that you are victim to panic. At least start thinking more of how that is possible and the direction you should be heading.
Strategies to stop panic attacks now:
Recognize what it is and what it isn’t. Recognize that it is a panic attack. A panic attack is just that. It’s panic. But it can’t harm you. It can’t hurt you. It shall pass and you have the ability to slow the whole thing down. Know that the way you talk to the panic will either make it worse or better. Telling yourself “this is the worst” and “it won’t ever get better” will give it so much power that the panic will only escalate. Learning how to put anxiety in “its place” reestablishes you as the owner of you rather than the panic. As a result you will feel much more in control and panic will have less power.
Do the opposite of what panic is telling you to do. Panic is automatically making you breathe so much faster than you normally would. It is making your heart beat faster and your mind race. What is the opposite? Push yourself to breathe so slow that it is such a contrast to what the automatic is. Count with the mississippi’s in the middle from 10 down to 1. This will slow down your breathing and your heart rate and push your mind to focus in on your body. You will feel much more at ease and know that you can slow down the progress of the panic.
Mindfulness. Mindfulness. Mindfulness. You may have heard of this before. What does that really mean? Whatever you need to do to get yourself to be in the moment is crucial during a panic attack. The previous step with slowing down your breathing and counting to 10 is one form of mindfulness. Others include focusing in on one object with full focus. This can be scenery or an object in the room. Eating something to focusing on what it tastes like. Touching or squeezing something is helpful too. As a result your panic will automatically lessen and you feel much more grounded and calm.
Picture a calm or happy place that you know can help calm you down. Visualization is a very helpful strategy to use during a panic attack. Try to visualize as much of the details as possible. All the senses. Smell, taste, touch, sight. Everything that was involved in your happy place. As you can imagine this will help you feel different things than the panic is intending and automatically calm down panic and exchange it with a happier calmer state.
Panic attacks can feel all consuming, and we know, can really take over. Trying these techniques can make a big change in how your respond to panic and help you take control of it. Our therapists and psychologists at Simi Psychological group specialize in working with anxiety and we are here to help. Read more about anxiety therapy or Schedule your free consultation
Written by: Donna Novak, Psy.D.
I’m a licensed clinical psychologist who empowers people to work through the roadblocks that are holding them back and find meaning and purpose in their lives. Learn more