Monday, 30 December 2013

3 Ways to Cope With a Panic Attack

What is a panic attack?
Okay, so I thought I would start off by introducing what a panic attack actually is:

"A panic attack is an experience of sudden and intense anxiety. Panic attacks can have physical symptoms, including shaking, feeling confused or disorientated, rapid heartbeats, dry mouth, sweating, dizziness and chest pain.
The symptoms of a panic attack normally peak within 10 minutes. Most episodes (attacks) will last for between five minutes and half an hour.

(NHS Choices Website, http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/coping-with-panic-attacks.aspx)

I suffer from panic attacks, and they can be triggered by hundreds of reasons (even just worrying about having one!).  You feel like you can't cope and get increasingly overwhelmed by the uncomfortable situation.  They make me feel light-headed and sick. It's just horrid. Even now, when I sit in lectures I have to make sure I am sitting on the end of a row, because it's so crowded, send it would be a lot easier for me to escape from the room, if I feel sick. By the way, I have never had to run out of a room, but just incase!

Tip 1 - find somebody who can reassure you!
If I'm having a panic attack at uni (away from home) the first thing I do is ring my boyfriend/parents/best-friend. I try not to worry them, I just say "please can you calm me down, this had happened, and I feel like I can't cope, what should I do?" Now explaining the situation to someone else often makes me think more rationally. Also, hearing somebody else talking can often be enough to distract myself and give me a few minutes to catch my breath.

Tip 2 - get outside!
It might seem silly but the fresh air can really help to calm you down.  Breathe in slowly for 5 seconds, and slowly release and breathe out again. This can be difficult to do when you're in the midst of it all but just keep trying. Focus on what's around you; weather, people, cats, birds.. Whatever, and just watch and keep trying to concentrate on what you are watching.

Tip 3 - tappity tap!
My final tip was actually taught to me by my lovely manager at work.  So, when you're having an attack try and tap your hand on your leg, slowly in a continuous rhythmic beat. When you start getting into a rthym focus on your toe muscles relaxing, then your foot muscles relaxing.. And keep working up your body until eventually your whole body should feel more relaxed.

Final word
Just to quickly say if any of you are feeling anxious about anything and need some reassurance, just send me a message or even a tweet that you want to DM me on twitter :)

In the words of Tanya Burr: "be bright. be happy. be you." :)