Your heart starts pounding, you have difficulty breathing, and you can't seem to stop sweating. Trembling, shaking, feelings of helplessness follow, with dizzying thoughts of losing control, and an overwhelming sense of dread takes over. These are only a few of the several symptoms of a panic attack that can occur to an individual. They are extremely unpleasant and frightening and can happen unexpectedly during a calm state or in an anxious state.
Not to worry. Once you've identified that the symptoms are tell-tale of a panic attack, here are some of the methods you can use to instantly deal with your jangled nerves.
The reason this seemingly absurd exercise works is because it's a lot harder to do than you think. Your brain is programmed to say it in the right order ever since you're a kid, but doing it in reverse order helps your mind to temporarily distract you from what's causing the source of your panic.
Fear of the unknown is one of the deadliest fears out there, and that can be combatted by treating it like you would treat anyone who exudes negative vibes around you. Maybe give it a name (mine's named Joe) and refer to it as an entity that's being irritable, and that can help you be less afraid of confronting it.
These are my go-to videos for whenever I feel an attack coming. I have some of these memserising videos downloaded in my phone for instant comfort, and every time I watch them, my brain decides to do a lot less screaming and help with a lot more deep breathing. I love colours, symmetry and soothing tones - and these are a godsend for my aesthetically pleasing senses.
Of course, everyone advises deep breathing as a successful method of calming the brain down, but they don't always work with my anxiety. This is why I mix it up with deep and rapid breathing, alternating between every couple of breaths, which then allows me to grab hold of my spiralling panic and calm down.
My love for colouring has managed to soar beyond just the innocent days of kindergarten and now it's the happy place I go to when a panic attack threatens to sneak up on me. There are a lot of amazing varieties available online with intricate details, that help your brain focus all your attention on filling in gaps of white with colour and voila! Day-saver!
Your priority, when it comes to handling panic attacks, is to convince your brain into doing anything but dive headfirst into the deep, dark place in your head. By giving it mundane but consuming exercises such as naming and listing things around you can keep the attack at bay.
You can also count things such as the number of white cars around you, name things such as the kinds of brown or black in your vicinity, or even take the name of a sign closest to you and count the number of letters in it.
Music, as we all know, is a universal healer. You will be surprised at the way it can work on your nerves and calm you down when you're going through an attack, especially if it happens to be a song/track with great emotional depth or nostalgia attached to it.
Much like the other senses of your body, the skin is extremely receptive to textures. There's a reason why babies are known to calm down immediately when they sense their mother's touch. Speaking from personal experience, running my fingers through grains of sand, holding the soft fabric of my handkerchief, and even feeling the tingling sensation of cold cream on my palms instantly relieves me of nervous energy.
Rubik's cubes, stress balls, squishy toys, fidget spinners, yo-yos are all excellent things to keep in handy, with respect to focusing your negative energy when it hits you like a brick wall. Your brain is temporarily distracted and you can find an easier outlet for your problem.
Our support system can be of immense help to us in our time of need, and what better way to curb your panic attack than to call up the one person you know will be able to calm you better than anyone else? May it be your mum, dad, boyfriend, best friend, sister, or therapist - if they can talk you through the pain, there's nothing better.
Always remember - you are never alone. There are people who care for you and help will be at hand, no matter where you go. Panic attacks are not permanent, and they can always be fought. Have a little faith and never stop looking for the silver lining through the storm.