Panic attacks are a mental health nightmare. You are trapped in your body, your mind and cannot think of anything to do but try to breathe. Your chest begins to burn, you feel suffocated, numb and weak.
After, what seems like forever, the panic attack is over, but you are still uncomfortable! It should be over. Your anxiety should be gone. You should be able to go on with life.
Unfortunately that is not how things work.
While it is important to identify where and why the panic attack occurred, you must get back to a clam state so you can process it. That is why it is important to know what to do after a panic attack, so you can begin to eliminate them completely.
5 Simple Things To Do After A Panic Attack
The most important thing you can do following a panic attack is to regulate your breathing.
When a panic attack happens you may feel like you cannot breath, have chest pain and feel like you are suffocating.
The goal of deeply breathing to slow your heart rate, alleviate chest pain and allow oxygen to flow to that beautiful mind.
There are many ways of doing so and any can work. The basic idea is to take an even breath through your nose, holding for hold for 10 seconds and release through your mouth. Repeat as many times as you need to begin to calm.
You can also use this video to help guide you through it.
I have a friend that once told me of a phrase she uses to calm herself: “1,2,3 peace begins with me”. She stated the phrase while touching her finger tips.
Little did I know at the time that this was a grounding technique. Grounding is anything that helps you focus on the present moment and remember that you are in control.
After a panic attack, grounding techniques can help you regain control and come back to the present. Here are a few ideas :
10 Grounding Ideas:
- Pick up or touch nearby items
- Touch something cold (cold water, ice, etc.)
- Drink or taste something and savor it
- Stretch or go for a walk
- Affirm positivity and control
- Focus on what is around you
- Speak kindly to yourself
- Visualize your favorite place
- Listen to music
- Wrap up in a weighted blanket
Self care activity
It is important to have a self care routine that you use daily however it is not possible for all. After a panic attack it is mandatory to give your body what it needs.
After breathing and grounding yourself, focus on what your body needs. Do you need a bath? Food? Fresh air?
Whatever it is, give it to yourself guilt free. Your body has had a traumatic response and deserves to be cared for. You can find ideas here for self care activities.
Reach out for support
Talk to a friend, family member or a member of your mental health team for support. Be sure to let them know what you need. Whether it is a hug, to vent or to rationalize your thinking, let them be there for you.
I know many shy away from getting support as we do not want to be a burden on others, I am occasionally one of them. It can be hard going to someone no matter how close you are and tell them what is going on in your mind.
It is so much easier to explain a cut or broken bone however, explaining your mental health status can be difficult. My advice would be to vent, do not look for a solution from family and friends as they may be unable to give it.
The same way you do not know why you are having panic attacks is just as unknown to your support system. Your mental health team will help you identify the “why”. If you do not have a team right now, these workbook could help you significantly decrease panic attacks.
Give yourself grace
If your friend had a panic attack what would you do to support them? How would you react? Give yourself that same grace.
We are often flexible and willing to give grace to others that we rarely give ourselves. If you want your panic attacks to decrease, you must give yourself space to improve.
How motivating is it for you to speak negatively to yourself? Does it help at all? Probably not. Instead empower and affirm yourself for being incredibly strong and watch how your mental strength grows!
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