HOW TO DEAL WITH PANIC ATTACKS & ANXIETY
As a therapist and counselor that specializes in anxiety I have many clients that come to me who struggle with panic attacks. I always tell them that the key to dealing with panic attacks is to RELAX. Of course telling someone to relax when they are having a panic attack and experiencing anxiety is easier said than done. In this blog post I will share a few tips on how to handle panic attacks.
An early sign that a panic attack is happening is experiencing difficulty breathing. When this happens you might feel yourself panting, or having a hard time catching your breath. As soon as you notice this try to focus and make your breaths even, and slow your breathing down. When you do this you will also notice that your heart rate will slow down. This will help your panic and anxiety subside. Taking slow and deep breaths will have a calming effect over your body. A good way to take calming breaths is to let all the air out of your lungs completely with each breath. This will force your lungs to dig down for a deeper breath on the next go around. Also make sure to breath from our diaphragm and not from your chest. Breathing from your chest will cause you to have short and shallow breaths.
Another tip to fighting panic attacks and anxiety is to ground yourself. You can accomplish this by pressing your feet into the ground. Do this with one foot at a time. Notice how your feet are completely rooted to the ground. You can do this while you are standing or sitting. If you are sitting you can also push your buttocks into the chair and feel how connected you are with the chair you are sitting on.
Another tip is to make yourself present. You can do this by engaging all of your senses of what you see, hear, feel, and smell in the area surrounding you. Panic and anxiety is often triggered when you are thinking about something bad happening in the future. Therefore bringing yourself into the present moment will bring you calm and reduce anxiety. If you have a pet, hold them and pet them and focus on what it feels like to hold and caress them. You can call a friend and pay attention to what they are saying and the sound of their voice. If someone else is around you start a conversation with them and stay present while it is happening.
Another tip in fighting panic attacks and anxiety is aromatherapy. You can purchase essential oils online or at a health food supermarket. Lavender is one of the best essential oils for soothing, calming, and relaxation. Essential oils can come in small bottles that you can easily fit in your pocket or purse so you can carry it with you always. To use the oil you can smell it directly from the bottle taking slow and deep breaths. You can also rub the oil on the bottom of your feet as that is the best way for your body to absorb it. You can also take a hot shower and put a few drops of oil in the shower and breathe in the aroma. When you go to bed you can put a few drops on your pillows and sheets to create a relaxing environment for when you sleep.
The final technique that I often share as a therapist and counselor to those struggling with panic attacks is using positive affirmations. You can use a small notebook to write positive statements to yourself about being calm and relaxed. You can also use your cellphone to keep a list of positive affirmations. When you are experiencing a panic attack and anxiety take out this list and read it over and over to yourself. You can also grab a piece of paper and pen and write positive statements over and over. Examples of a positive affirmation to use is “I am calm”, “I am relaxed”, and “I feel safe and in control”.
Use all of these techniques that I have shared with you to come up with a panic attack action plan for yourself. Come up with a list of all the actions that you can take the next time you have a panic attack and use them the next time it happens. Being prepared with an action plan will help you feel more in control and will reduce the panic you feel and can even help prevent future attacks.
ABOUT ESSENCE OF HEALING COUNSELING:
Roberta Alves is a therapist and counselor at the Essence of Healing Counseling in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. She is a Certified Anxiety Specialist and uses a scientific and evidence based type of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Research has shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is proven to be extremely effective in treating anxiety. Roberta is truly passionate about the work she does and loves serving her clients in Ft. Lauderdale and the surrounding South Florida areas. If you want to learn the proven techniques to overcome your anxiety, schedule an appointment today.