Panic attacks can be frightening; and part of what makes them tricky to manage is that they can show up rather unexpectedly, and at the least convenient times. We may not always have somebody with us when a panic attack creeps up, so it’s essential to know how to deal with panic attacks when you are faced with it alone.
To start with, it’s great to tune in with yourself, and know the symptoms of an approaching panic attack. These hints vary from person to person, but can include dizziness and light-headedness; an increased heart rate; difficulty swallowing (dysphagia); tightness or pressure in the chest area; and feelings of not being able to breathe.
Recognizing the signs of a panic attack can help you take control immediately, and when you know you are about to have a panic attack, you can prepare for it or stop it more easily.
One of the most powerful and immediate ways to reduce the panic is by taking shallower breaths. This may seem counterintuitive; as we are always told to breathe deeply when anxiety rears its head. However; quick, deep breaths – technically hyperventilating – worsen anxiety!
When we hyperventilate, we exhale more than we inhale; upsetting our natural balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The imbalance can cause tingling in the lips, hands, and feet; as well as dizziness, headaches, feelings of weakness; and fainting.
Taking longer, and shallow breaths will counteract many of the symptoms of the rising anxiety, and you should already start to feel somewhat better.
The next step on how to deal with panic attacks when you are alone is to leave your current environment. Panic is a cruel disorder that leaves one stricken with fear. Instead of allowing our bodies or minds to cope effectively with the fear, panic leaves us trapped in the fear.
Part of how this manifests is in that when we are having anxiety, we are too frightened to even move! A small but significant action such as leaving your room and going to sit outside helps you take back some degree of control. Firstly, you have physically not allowed your panic to paralyse you – which is a very empowering move; and secondly, leaving the environment in which the panic starts to manifest can cause a positive shift in perspective.
One of the down sides to having a panic attack when you are alone is that there is no one to reassure you – but that’s not entirely true. Panic attacks can actually teach us to become our own number one cheerleaders. It is within each and every one of us to take control of our mind-sets, and choose what kind of attitude we have.
Calming yourself by repeating a positive mantra can reassure you that all is well. Telling yourself that you are well, that you’ll be fine, and that the feeling of anxiety will pass before you even know it, can cause a soothing effect throughout your entire body.
If you are fortunate, the panic will subside and you may even avoid the attack altogether. In some circumstances, you may still have a panic attack but the intensity of it will be reduced thanks to the techniques that you have put into practise.
Other times, no matter how hard we try to deal with panic attacks on our own, it’s just not working; and you’ll need to call for help. There is nothing wrong with this – nothing shameful, weal, or embarrassing. It’s a blessing to be able to know when you need help, and if you feel that you need to call a friend or a neighbour, do it! After all, asking for help is synonymous with taking control. How to deal with a panic attack.