Dealing with a Panic Attack

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Don’t be afraid, you can overcome.

Panic attacks are one of the more uniquely terrifying things a person can experience in their lives. For reasons that are still not entirely understood, your body can suddenly feel like it’s in mortal danger, causing your pulse to spike and your thoughts to become erratic. It’s an inherently nonsensical thing, going fight or flight when there’s nothing happening, but even knowing that doesn’t make dealing with them any easier. Even so, when panic bubbles up, you can fight back and retake control.

The first thing you need to do when you start panicking is take a deep breath. Breathe deep through your nose, hold it for a moment, then out through your mouth. Your breathing can become shallow and strained when you’re panicking, which will just make the attack worse, so you first need to ensure you’re getting enough oxygen to think rationally. After that, you need to make yourself consciously aware of the fact that you’re having a panic attack. Fear becomes more manageable when it has a face attributed to it.

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Once you’re conscious of the attack, you need to reground yourself in reality. Look around the room and audibly identify three things you can see in front of you. Don’t think about why they’re there or their relation to you, just look at something and say what you see. You’re not spiraling through an abyss, you’re in a safe, familiar place. If you’re not in a familiar place, you can get a similar feeling from some mindfulness techniques. Feel the ground beneath your feet, smell the air, listen to ambient noises. Ground yourself in reality and get out of your head.

If you’re still having trouble relaxing, try some lavender oil. Hold a little bottle of the stuff under your nose and take a deep whiff. Lavender has inherit calming properties to relax your pulse and steady your breathing. Don’t worry, you’re going to be okay.