Sofia Vendela

How to Handle a Panic Attack

Hello, lovely readers!

Yesterday started with me having a panic attack at school (which is always fun) so since I've had panic attacks for a few years now and have come up with my own coping mechanisms through reading a lot about anxiety and seeing what works for me, I thought I'd give you some advice on how to handle your own (or help someone else's) panic attacks. Keep in mind that these tips work for me, they may not work for you!

Stay with the person and take them to a quiet place with less to no people around.

If they take some kind of medicine, you can help them by e.g. grabbing a glass of water or water bottle for them and even if they don't take medicine, you can still grab them some water for when they calm down.

Communication is key, ask if you can do or can't do anything for them, this will help them focus on something other than their panic. If you expect an answer, speak in short and clear sentences to be comprehensive. Sometimes I just need someone to talk about whatever so to distract myself.

Help the person stay focused by repeating yourself simply and staying in their vision. Something that really helps me is keeping eye contact with whoever is helping calm me down (if there is someone there). This helps to focus me and help me be less rational (which usually happens during a panic attack, thereby the panic).

Help them slow their breathing by either counting to ten or my choice: "breathe in" "breathe out" and encouraging them is always a good idea like: "you can get through this" "You're doing so well" "I'm here for you" "Everything is going to work out". Make sure to avoid saying things like: "calm down" "you're being irrational" "I wouldn't do that if I were you" "Stop overreacting". Whatever they do or say in the moment is how they feel. Panic attacks are instinctual, the person usually knows what they need to do, even if they've never had a panic attack before.

If you are the person having the panic attack, all the previous tips still apply to you. Another good tip is to put your head between your knees as you are breathing since short and shallow breaths get less blood to the head (therefore the drowsy/dizzy feeling) and putting your head down will help the blood flow.

When your brain is sending this emergency response and your body is pumping adrenaline as these negative thoughts circle your brain, shout "STOP" in your head, cutting off the loop of hazy thoughts. Then think or say to yourself whatever feels right: "I will be fine" "I am just having a panic attack" "I am not going to die" "I am not having a heart attack" "I am going to relax" "My body is just reacting to my fear" "I will get through this" "I am strong".

If this doesn't work, imagine that you're in a place of comfort and try to immerse yourself, whatever it may be: e.g. drinking tea with your family at your grandparents' house, lying on the beach reading, cosying up in your bed with candles lit and your favourite movie playing.

Things that you can do to prepare for a panic attack is to have a stress ball or something of comfort on hand, have a card with helpful statements to say (like those above), prepare a comfort scenario as described above, tell a friend/s about your panic attacks and what they need to do to help you.

Finally, don't suppress a panic attack; accept it. From personal experience, I can tell you that this only makes it worse for you since you still feel just as stressed and the panic attack is often even more powerful if repressed.

I hope this helped you or someone in need. Be gentle with yourself and take care of yourself, you deserve to be free of anxiety and to live the life you want!

 

Love, as always,

Sofia

 

 

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