I received a phone call one night last week from somebody experiencing a traumatic event and she was absolutely terrified. She was undergoing a panic attack that came out of nowhere.
There she was sitting on a train travelling to see a friend. Suddenly, a wave of panic overcomes her – her heart raced, her pulse throbbed, the world spun, heat poured through her body and she could hardly catch her breath. She was terrified. Feeling so out of control. It was by far the worst feeling she had ever experienced.
This was the first time she had ever experienced a panic attack. It caught her totally off guard. At the time it really scared her, and now after she is really worried about it happening again. She is very much on edge about this possibility.
I know she’s not alone. This happens to so many people. The good news is that panic attacks can be overcome.
Panic attacks are spells of intense anxiety. They come on quickly, sometimes seemingly out of nowhere, and although they usually only last for a few minutes the feelings of anxiety they bring can last for much longer. Also a person that suffers from a panic attack may feel drained and jittery for hours afterward.
Usually it is a lot of different factors that end up leading up to an attack. In the main it’s all the stress they are under that just seems to build up and eventually explode.
We need to look at your fight or flight response to understand what’s happening. In response to the release of hormones such as adrenaline, your blood pressure increases and breathing speeds up preparing you for muscular effort. The symptoms displayed when having panic attacks (adrenaline rush, fast heart rate, sweating etc) are the natural reaction of the human body to prepare itself to face and deal with imminent danger. Such as preparing to fight, run or take quick action. Your body is getting you prepared to deal with a crises. But you don’t see it like that.
With the panic attacks seemingly coming from nowhere and nothing specific that triggers it, panic attacks raise nothing but questions for those who suffer from them.
How to stop panic attacks? That is the one question that all people suffering from panic attacks ask. That’s the question I want to answer today for the lady that phoned me last week.
Here are 10 ways to Stop Panic Attacks.
Positive Thinking. Panic attacks almost solely originate from the mind. Everyone has mental chatter which is the constant flow of thoughts and internal dialogues within us. We will have at least some mental chatter going throughout the day, but when that is frequently negative we are leaving ourselves open to problems. So it is crucial to cut out negative thinking. People may for years had automatic negative thoughts running around in their head, well now take conscious control, cut them off and allow positivity to take over.
Take Control. When panic attacks strike we feel out of control. So our first step is to take control. Once you have suffered from a panic attack you now need to turn into a private investigator. Stop looking into the future and thinking about the next time it may happen and instead try and understand maybe why it occurred in the first place. Start by really looking, in detail, at your panic attacks. When did they happen? Where were you? What were you thinking? See if you can identify particular thoughts that trigger the panic attack. By tracing possible causes enables you to take control and make changes.
Put Your Foot Down. Too often we let situations get the better of us. We may be unhappy about things but we do nothing to sort them. We just put up with them. Often you will find areas in your life that are indeed troubling you. You may be having panic attacks because there are aspects of your life that are bothering you. These may be connected to your family life, your career, and so on. By identify changes you would like to make can make a huge difference. You simply have to stop putting up things that you’re not happy with. Put your foot down at last. It’s time for you to be assertive. Understand that when you let situation or people walk all over you it undermines you and stresses you out more than most things will and can bring you to a point of great weakness.
Take Time To Relax Your Body. So frequently you see people walking around looking as though they’re carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. Their bodies are so tight, you can see the frowns on their face, the clenched jaws, shoulders up around their ears. This physiology is going to do them no good at all. They are carrying stress and just asking for trouble. SO practicing a good relaxation exercise such as Progressive Muscular Relaxation will ease the tension and relax them both physically and mentally.
Make Deep Breathing Your Norm. Many people get into the habit of breathing shallowly, from the upper chest, rather than more slowly from the abdomen. Put one hand on your upper chest and the other on your stomach. Notice which hand moves as you breathe. The hand on your chest should hardly move, if you are breathing correctly from the diaphragm, but the hand on your stomach should rise and fall. Practise this breathing, slowly and calmly, every day.
Get your heart pumping daily. You have to get your heart pumping every day. Many studies have proven that regular exercise is an excellent anxiety treatment in that it reduces the stress hormones and elevates feel good hormones. You can start with brisk walking, where you aren’t just ideally walking but putting effort in and walking at a tempo of around 4 miles an hour.
Confide in someone close. Let people who are close to you know you have a problem. Try to explain your situation as clearly as possible; talk about things that worry you, don’t conceal anything, you have to trust them and know they care about you and want nothing more than to help you. Don’t bottle up your emotions. Find someone to confide in.
Sleep is essential. You need to rest your body sufficiently to ensure it is best equipped to deal with the stress and strains of modern day living. On average 8 hours of sleep are required every night. Get some rest. This will equip you so much better for the stresses of daily life.
The good news is that if you’ve only ever had one panic attack 50 per cent of people never experience another attack. Be sensible though and implement some of these suggested changes.