How Can I Prevent Panic Attacks?
Panic attacks are sudden, intense surges of fear, panic, or anxiety. They are overwhelming, and they have physical as well as emotional symptoms.
Many people with panic attacks may have difficulty breathing, sweat profusely, tremble, and feel their hearts pounding.
Some people will also experience chest pain and a feeling of detachment from reality or themselves during a panic attack, so they may think they’re having a heart attack. Others have reported feeling like they are having a stroke.
Panic attacks can be scary and may hit you quickly. Here are 11 strategies you can use to try to stop a panic attack when you’re having one or when you feel one coming on:
1. Remember that it will pass/ How Can I Prevent Panic Attacks
During a panic attack, it can help to remember that these feelings will pass and cause no physical harm, however scary it feels at the time.
Try acknowledging that this is a brief period of concentrated anxiety, and that it will be over soon.
Panic attacks tend to reach their most intense point within 10 minutes of their onset, and then the symptoms will begin to subside.
2. Take deep breaths/ How Can I Prevent Panic Attacks
Deep breathing can help bring a panic attack under control.
Panic attacks can cause rapid breathing, and chest tightness can make the breaths shallow. This type of breathing can make feelings of anxiety and tension worse.
Instead, try to breathe slowly and deeply, concentrating on each breath. Breathe deeply from the abdomen, filling the lungs slowly and steadily while counting to 4 on both the inhale and the exhale.
People can also try using 4-7-8 breathing, or “relaxing breath.” With this technique, the person breathes in for 4 seconds, holds the breath for 7 seconds, then exhales slowly for 8 seconds.
It is worth noting that for some people, deep breathing can make panic attacks worse. In these cases, the person can try focusing on doing something they enjoy instead.
3. Smell some lavender
A soothing scent can help relieve anxiety by tapping into the senses, helping the person stay grounded and giving them something to focus on.
Lavender is a common traditional remedy known for bringing about a sense of calm relaxation. Many studies report that lavender can help relieve anxiety.
Try holding the oil under the nose and inhaling gently, or dabbing a little onto a handkerchief to smell. This oil is widely available online. However, people should only purchase it from trusted retailers.
If the person dislikes the smell of lavender, they could try replacing it with another essential oil that they prefer, such as bergamot orange, chamomile, or lemon.
4. Find a peaceful spot
Sights and sounds can often intensify a panic attack. If possible, try to find a more peaceful spot. This could mean leaving a busy room or moving to lean against a nearby wall.
Sitting in a quiet place will create some mental space, and it will make it easier to focus on breathing and other coping strategies.
5. Focus on an object
When a person becomes overwhelmed with distressing thoughts, feelings, or memories, concentrating on something physical in the environment can help them feel grounded.
Focusing on one stimulus can reduce other stimuli. As the person looks at the item, they may want to think about how it feels, who made it, and what shape it is. This technique can help reduce the symptoms of a panic attack.
If the person has recurring panic attacks, they can carry a specific familiar object to help ground them. This may be something like a smooth stone, a seashell, a small toy, or a hair clip.
Grounding techniques such as this can help people dealing with panic attacks, anxiety, and trauma. Learn more about grounding techniques here.