I deal with the threat of having a panic attack almost daily. What triggers them is not always clear, but sometimes I can feel one coming on and I have time to do something about it.
I have tried many different techniques while battling anxiety and panic attacks. Some of the “tried and true” methods were not helpful for me.
However, I have discovered some useful tricks for warding off a panic attack that are not as commonly talked about.
Here are a few things that have worked for me:
Wiggle Your Toes
Unfortunately I have developed a tendency to faint in medical situations, such as having my blood drawn. I think it is a side effect of my anxiety.
Recently I was at the skin doctor having a mole removed when I began feeling panicky. I felt clammy, light-headed, and I was afraid of passing out.
The doctor told me to focus on wiggling my toes. I took her advice and I was surprised by how effective it was!
It gave me an objective to focus on, and it also worked as a grounding technique.
Start at 575 and Count Back By 7
It is common for me to wake up in the middle of the night (2AM seems to be my witching hour,) with anxiety or even with a full blown panic attack.
This is one of the first things I do when I realize what is going on.
The numbers are arbitrary, but the method is effective.
It gives me something to focus on. It’s challenging enough that I need to engage my mind, but it’s not so challenging that I get stalled and my anxiety has the opportunity to take over.
Do Jumping Jacks
During one of my more severe panic attacks, I felt completely restless. Adrenaline coursed through me relentlessly.
I impulsively slapped my legs and rocked on the floor, unsure of how to channel my energy.
It then occurred to me that my body clearly needed a physical outlet and my mind needed something intentional to focus on.
I got off the floor and began doing jumping jacks, counting each one until I got to 10 and then counting backwards again until one.
When I became tired from the jumping jacks, I felt less frantic but I was still experiencing very high anxiety.
I decided to do some yoga in order to wind down.
This physical activity was very effective for me and it helped me regain control during a full blown panic attack.
Drink A Cold Glass of Water
Sometimes my anxiety will develop while I am at work or while I’m out and about.
When I am somewhere that I feel a little more restricted with what I can do in response to my anxiety, I have found it helpful to do something to help “jolt” me from my anxious state of mind.
I have found drinking a glass of ice cold water is very helpful in this situation.
I don’t mean sip a glass of water — I mean drink the water as quickly as you reasonably can and be sure that’s it’s cold.
I have found that this technique helps shock and reset my system.
If you try this, be sure to focus on the feeling of the cold water hitting your tongue, moving down your throat and then through your esophagus and into your stomach.
This is a grounding technique that will hopefully make you feel more present in the moment, especially if you were feeling a sense of de-realization.
It will also make you more in tune with your physical state, making you feel more awake and alive.
Sing A Song
I’m a huge Broadway fan and a music lover in general.
Sometimes when I’m feeling anxious I put on one of my favorite albums and absolutely let loose, singing at the top of my lungs and with complete abandon.
The music not only gives me something to focus on, it also gives me a physical outlet for my adrenaline when I sing along.
For this technique to be most effective, you need to sing with gusto!
Really expend your physical energy by singing loudly and get lost in the music so your mind can let go of its anxious thoughts.
You’re Gonna Be Okay
No matter what technique you use, always remember to tell yourself that you’re going to be okay.
The anxiety will eventually ease.
The panic attack will end.
Be sure to practice self care to help yourself recover from the event.
You’re going to be okay.
Talk to Me
What tricks work for you when you’re managing anxiety or a panic attack? Let me know in the comments!