Shortness of breath. Rapid and accelerated heartrate. Trembling. Sweating. Lightheadedness and feeling faint. Tightness in chest. Feeling of terror. Fear of loss of control or death.
Do these symptoms sound familiar to you? If they do, chances are you have experienced a panic attack. Panic attacks tend to be the result of numerous factors. Such as: major stress, a more sensitive temperament, a traumatic event, significant life changes and a history (or genetic disposition) to panic disorders.
To make matters more complex/challenging, there are certain factors that exacerbate the possibility and frequency of panic attacks.
- Increase in health concerns and other medical conditions
- Avoidance of social situations
- Problems at work/school
- Financial concerns
Sound familiar?! Well…DON’T PANIC!
This post is all about PRACTICAL TIPS of how to handle a panic attack at home. Hang in there…
Firstly, recognize the PHYSICAL symptoms of a panic attack. Don’t be frightened by them. Our bodies work in harmony with our emotions as a way of helping us. If you start to clench your jaw, tense your shoulders, get a localized headache, blood pressure rises, have shortness of breath and feel pressure in your chest. It’s your body’s way of telling you that you may be experiencing a panic attack.
SAY OUT LOUD TO YOURSELF “Okay, I’m having a panic attack. It’s okay, I know what to do.” It may seem silly however when you start to experience panic attack symptoms, your emotions tend to go to the worse case scenario. “Am I dying??” “Am I having a heart attack?” Once you name it for what it is , that’s half the battle. You have helped yourself contain and minimize some of the anxiety and after reading this post, you’ll also have the skills and the confidence to treat yourself.
This is what you can do.
Find a quiet place in your house away from children and distractions.
Place one hand on your chest and the index finger (of your other hand) in the crease (known as the philtrum) under your nose. Apply slight pressure under your nose as you breathe in through your nose and slowly out through your mouth. By concentrating on your nasal breathing, it will help prevent hyperventilating. Repeat this 10 times.
With your one hand on your chest and your index finger (of the other hand) on your philtrum, try to envision a healing, warm energy passing from your hand to your chest as you practice these breathing exercises. The energy can be any color/texture you choose. Repeat this 10 times.
Maintain eye contact with any object of your choice during your breathing exercises. It can be a picture on the wall or a tree outside of your bedroom window. If you prefer, you can ask someone else in the house to join you. You can maintain eye contact with them and practice the breathing together.
Sometimes the exercises above are enough to slow down one’s breathing and heartrate. They can help restore a sense of calm and composure. If you are still feeling panicky, here’s something else you can try. The key to this exercise is utlizing the 5 senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. By activating all 5 senses, it helps create a sense of equilibrium and a return of control and safety.
SENSE OF TOUCH: Notice 5 things that you feel right now. (It could be the cushion of the chair on your back, the hard cold tiles underneath your feet).
SENSE OF SIGHT: Notice 4 sounds that you see that are blue. (You can choose any color..but try to identify 4 things in your surroundings that are the same color).
SENSE OF HEARING: Notice 3 things that you hear.
SENSE OF SMELL: Notice 2 things that you can smell. I recommend having your favorite oils and/or perfumes (or cologne) handy so that you can reach should you need them. Lavender, chamomile and rose oil, for instance, promote calmess. But if you have a favorite scent that relaxes you, take the bottle and inhale deeply and slowly.
SENSE OF TASTE: Notice 1 thing that you can taste. Note- when having a panic attack, it can helps to chew a piece of gum or suck on a sucking candy.
Repeat as necessary.
If your symptoms persist, you can always call a medical/mental health professional to assist.
I do hope these tips are helpful while dealing with the challenges that we all face on a daily basis. I am hoping for the next post, to address some self-soothing tools, based on EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) and SE (Somatic Experiencing).
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org