If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, panic attacks may be a part of your life. Even with proper medication, many patients suffer from panic attacks. Although predicting when a panic attack will happen may be a bit tricky, you can take steps to prepare for these panic attacks in order to take back control of your life.
The first step to taking back that control is to learn to breathe. When a person has a panic attack, often they feel so overwhelmed that they forget to simply breathe properly. Many doctors, therefore, advocating safe breathing practices in order to help calm anyone having a panic attack. In fact, if you’ve ever had a panic attack in public, someone may have tried to get you to breath into a paper bag. This may or may be a good method for you, but the fact is that you should know and practice your breathing exercise before you are panicking. Have a plan—learn calming breathing techniques and practice at least twice a day.
Other relaxing practices may also be able to help your panic attack. Of course, it might be hard to try and meditate in the midst of a panic attack but learning to focus your attention elsewhere is beneficial. Generally when one meditates they focus on a specific phrase or idea. Focus on calming and centering yourself and you will learn to ease our panic attacks over time.
It is also beneficial to regularly meditate even when you aren’t in the middle of a panic attack. Meditation is a great stress-reliever and can possible help to lessen the occurrence of panic attacks overall.
Knowing Your Triggers
Another great way to prepare for a panic attack is to simply know your triggers. Do you have a specific phobia? Is excess stress your downfall? Do certain situations seem impossible for you? When you know what triggers panic reactions, you can do your best to avoid or minimize these situations.
When you go outside of your home, take with you a list of emergency contacts, which should include your doctor’s number, your local crisis hotline, and members of your personal support systems. You can use this list to phone a family member, friend, or medical professional if you feel a panic attack starting. Having a list of emergency contacts is also beneficial if you are having a medical crisis and aren’t able to help yourself. If someone stops to help you they can easily discover this list and know who to contact for you.
Keeping a journal has many benefits including, stress-relief, decreased blood pressure, and improved sleep. Keeping a journal allows you to clarify your thoughts, keep track of triggers and symptoms, and evokes mindfulness. You can write down anything and everything you are feeling and thinking or use prompts to spark thoughts and ideas.
Check out these prompts below to get you started:
Related: My Story – Postpartum Depression
Create A ‘Calm Down Kit’
Another good idea to help during a panic attack is to create a ‘calm down kit’. This is essentially a bag that you fill with items to help you feel comfortable and calm down during a panic attack. Use an old purse or book bag to store the necessary supplies. It only needs to be big enough to carry what you need.
What to put in your Kit
You want to make sure to add items to your kit that may help you relax, stimulated your brain, or distract yourself. Here are some ideas:
- Medications – any medications that you take for anxiety along with instructions on taking the meds.
- Herbal tea – (Chamomile, lemon balm, and passionflower tea are all great for combating anxiety.)
- Photos – any photos that make you happy whether they are photos of friends, family, pets, or beautiful places.
- A notebook – You can fill this notebook with quotes, affirmations, meditation techniques or to track your symptoms.
- Anything else you may find helpful.