About thirty-five percent of people experience panic attacks at some point in their lives. A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense anxiety often accompanied by distressing physical sensations. These physical symptoms may include shaking, disorientation, nausea, increased and irregular breathing, sweating, and dizziness.
A panic attack could last between five minutes to an hour. If these attacks become more frequent and persist, it is likely that panic disorder is developing. Nearly five percent of U.S. adults will have a panic disorder at one point in their lives. The symptoms do not have any harmful effects, but can mimic symptoms of a heart attack, which can be very frightening. If panic attacks have become a frequent part of life, it’s important to seek help. But in the meantime, there are some things you can do for yourself to make life easier. When you have a panic attack, there are some quick exercises you can do to calm your body’s stress response and make you feel relaxed.
Calming Techniques For Panic Attacks
1. Relax By Breathing
When you experience anxiety, your heart rate becomes rapid, and your breathing becomes heavier and faster. You may feel sweaty, dizzy, and light-headed. At this point, it’s difficult to control your breathing and keep your body and mind relaxed. To control your breathing:
- Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit. Place a hand on your chest and another on your stomach. Let your stomach move instead of your chest when you take a deep breath.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose. Monitor your hands as you breathe in. The hand chest should not move while the hand on your stomach should move slowly.
- Breathe slowly through your mouth.
- Go through this process repeatedly until you begin to feel relaxed.
Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit, then imagine a place where you’d love to be. It could be anywhere, real or imaginary, but the goal is to imagine yourself in a place you find calming, soothing, and safe.
While in your imagination, think about the little details you’d find there; think about the smell, the feel, and the sound. Allow yourself to feel everything about the place you have imagined.
Once you’ve identified your happy place in your mind, close your eyes and allow yourself to breathe slowly through your mouth and nose. Take control of your breathing while still visualizing yourself in your happy place until you feel your body relax. You can always return to that place in yourself whenever you experience anxiety.
3. Relax Your Muscles
When you experience a panic disorder, you notice strain and tension in your muscles. This muscle stress can worsen your anxiety and make it difficult to calm down and relax. By reducing stress in your muscles, you’ll experience physical relief from your fear.
Here are a few things you can do to relieve your muscles of the tension and strain:
- Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit; close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing; take a slow breath through your nose and let it out of your mouth.
- Create a ball with your fist and squeeze it tightly.
- Hold your balled fist for a moment and observe all the tension you feel in your hand.
- Open your fingers slowly and observe how you feel. You’ll start to feel the tension dissipate from your hands.
- Your hand will feel lighter and less tense.
- Continue to ease other muscle groups in your body with the same method, including your hands, legs, and feet. Avoid tensing your muscle in any part of your body where you have an injury; it may worsen the damage.
Counting slowly eases your anxiety. When you feel anxious, sit in a relaxed and calm place, then close your eyes and count slowly from one to ten. You can increase the number until you feel comfortable and relieved.
When you stay calm and count, it removes your attention from the cause of the panic disorder and gives you something else to focus on. This is a versatile exercise you can perform outdoors or in busy places like the office, train, or mall.
5. Stay Present
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of your immediate surroundings. By staying present and being mindful of your surroundings, you can keep your mind calm and bring yourself out of your thoughts. Here’s how to practice staying present:
- Sit in a quiet and comfortable place.
- Observe your breathing and how your body feels.
- Now bring yourself to observe everything that’s happening around you. Observe the sounds and smell around you.
- You may try to slip back into your thoughts but consciously snap back to the present until you feel the anxiety leave your body.
There are many things you can do to alleviate panic symptoms. But these aren’t a catchall, and they’re certainly not a cure. Most people need professional help to effectively manage mood disorders of any sort.
Anxiety disorders can be difficult to treat. Common treatment options leave many without relief from their symptoms. However, ketamine therapy has been shown to offer relief to many after just one infusion. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you find relief!