3 tips for how I manage the onset of a panic attack

Panic attack: a sudden feeling of acute and disabling anxiety.

A simple definition to define a rather complex condition. When I experienced my first panic attack over a year ago I remember the immediate feeling of danger, fear, and debilitating overwhelm. With each attack, there is a sense of dread unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I recognize that it is completely illogical. I recognize that I go from 0 to 10. I recognize that it’s not real. But, in the moment, dear friend, it seems very real.

Today was a great day. My husband, son, and I went on a morning hike, followed by breakfast at one of our favorite restaurants. We came home and napped. It was seriously the perfect way to spend our Good Friday. Tonight, while sitting on the couch, my son on the floor playing with toys, and my husband sitting beside me I noticed my heart begin to beat a bit faster. I told myself, “DeNeitra, you’re fine.” But then, other thoughts began to creep in. .. “but what if I’m not? What if something is wrong? What if I’m having a panic attack?” I took a few deep breaths and told myself “you are fine – nothing is wrong.” I told my husband that I was starting to feel anxious and that I worried I might be having a panic attack. In loving fashion, as always, he reminded me that I was perfectly OK and that God was right here with me.

Luckily, a full-blown panic attack did not ensue, but friend, the feeling of dread was still there and it was still so so heavy. I want to share the 3 things that help me when I feel a panic attack starting to creep up. As with every blog post on HTP, always seek counsel from a medical professional. These are merely tips that assist me when I feel a panic attack coming on.

  1. Deep breathing: Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. There are so many different breathing techniques that have been proven to help in reducing anxiety. We’ll be sharing detailed information on this in a future blog post.
  2. Positive self-talk: In the midst of a panic attack, my thoughts begin to spiral. I have learned to reaffirm myself by reminding myself: “I am safe. I am ok. There is nothing wrong with me.”
  3. Fresh air: For me, there’s something about getting fresh air. I will sit outside in freezing weather (well, let me preface this by saying, I’m in Southern California, so anything below 65 is freezing). Fresh air, combined with breathing exercises help me tremendously.

These three tips have seriously helped me to halt a panic attack at its onset. Do they always work? No, sometimes I still end up in a full-fledged attack with my heart racing and my thoughts spiraling, but, when they do work. . .I take a huge, grateful sigh of relief. I’ll share how I deal with an actual full-fledged panic attack in another blog post.

Tell me, have you tried any of these tips? What has worked for you? I’d love to hear your feedback.

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