You want to run, but your legs are so shaky you can't even think about moving at that moment.
Shortness of breath
Sudden immediate anxiety, not knowing where and why it showed up.
You guessed it, a full-blown panic or anxiety attack!
Some other things you may experience could include:
Tingling or numbness in the hands
Sense of terror doom or death
Panic and anxiety impact nearly 46 million Americans a year.
Panic or anxiety attacks can leave you feeling unsettled, frustrated, frightened, and challenged on top of the symptoms that may linger.
Having a sound plan to manage them when they come up can help reduce the frequency of occurrences and/or minimize the impact when you have an attack.
Think back to times when you have had a panic or anxiety attack in the past, how does it present for you?
Get clear on your on-set symptoms. The earliest signs are the best way to start trying to calm the attack.
Include things like the environment you were in, the people you were with, and what you were doing.
All these things can help increase the understanding of what sparks an attack for you and how you can fix those underlying issues to prevent or minimize future panic attacks.
Through the years, I have had several people tell me that even the simple act of breathing can be hard to remember in the heart of an anxiety or panic attack. And, if this is you, give yourself some cues or reminders in the areas you tend to have a panic attack. Perhaps, it's a bracelet or something else on your person that will always be present to you to remind you.
Breathing helps to reset your nervous system. Deep, slow, and steady breathing sends messages to your parasympathetic nervous system that you are OK and to calm down.
Be kind and gentle with yourself. It may take time for you to find a breathing pattern that works best for you and allows you to get deep breaths in when you are in the middle of an attack. Don't get caught up in the "how to breathe" or add to your stress about "if you are doing it right" simply breathe.
A few of my favorite techniques are:
Box breathing- Take four deep breathes in; hold for four breathes; out for four; hold for four. Continue this as long as you need to.
Ten deep breathes in and out.
Two quick breathes in, then one deep breath out. I was unsure of this one when I first heard about it, but I can say it has helped me several times when I felt like I couldn't breathe.
Close your eyes
If you can do so safely, close your eyes to help your body reset. At times, panic attacks are triggered due to our surroundings or sensory overload from our environment. Closing your eyes in combination with doing abdominal breathing may help you soothe faster.
Involve as many senses as you can
To take your attention off the panic/anxiety attack, involve as many senses as you can at the moment to focus your attention.
See five things in the space you are in
Hear five sounds
Touch five things
Recall five tastes from foods or drinks you have had. Then, imagine as though you are tasting those at the moment all over again.
Try to find five smells around your space
Soothe yourself with imagery
Find images that bring you calm and make a gallery of those images to pull up as your "go-to" in the moment of an attack. Imagery is a great way to redirect our brain's focus. It is also shown to reduce stress and activate the parasympathetic Nervous System. Some pictures may also release dopamine and oxytocin, further helping to relax and reset.
Use Natural remedies
There are several natural remedies on the market today that may help calm the emotional centers amid a panic or anxiety attack. A few to look into include:
I find the last two more preventative. If I know I am going into a situation where I may be emotionally heightened, these two can generally keep me balanced.
*As always, check with your medical provider.
You may not be able to get up and walk five miles amid a panic attack, but for some of us, getting up and doing some light calming movement or getting out of the environment that caused the situation can help resolve it faster.
Stretching or Yoga may also help.
Essential oils are the extracted oil from plants. I've been a fan of oils for years and use them frequently for countless things. When prepping for another article about oils that help anxiety (coming later this month), I was surprised to find as many oils as I did that may help support anxiety and/or panic moments.
As with most things, oils and types can impact people differently. What works well for one person may have a different impact on someone else. It's worth trying them to see which can best support you.