Too often, I hear people saying that someone has “the worst anxiety attacks.”
It’s not the words themselves that bother me, but the implied absolution. I think it’s unfair to say someone is “having anxiety attacks” when they are actually experiencing panic. Panic is a much more intense and dangerous type of anxiety. It isn’t always easy to tell the difference, even for those who experience them regularly.
It is nearly impossible to fully describe what it feels like to have a panic attack. Each one is unique. It’s not really an attack in the sense that someone is attacking you. Panic attacks are more like living through a horror movie when you are the one in control of the controller.
If you’re prone to experiencing panic attacks it’s important to learn how to calm yourself. Here are three tips for when panic attacks occur.
- Look around the room. Breathe in and out slowly, count to 10, and focus on something that is calm and not moving or changing from one moment to the next. This part is crucial because when you are in a panic you tend to grow really dizzy and lose your ability to distinguish between what is moving or changing. It’s impossible to tell if you are turning around or how far away you are walking, which can influence your perception of time, place, direction, etc.
- Stay still. When you feel the worst of a panic attack coming on, try to stay in one place and take slow breaths. If you need a break, sit down and close your eyes while you breathe deeply for a few minutes making sure it’s a time where nobody will bother or talk to you.
- Stay calm. Panic is contagious. If you are prone to panic attacks, you will have an easier time keeping it at bay if you are around people who are not experiencing any anxiety. It’s very easy for others to make you feel like something is wrong with you when they perceive that your anxiety is out of control and they don’t know how to help themselves find a moment of relief or calm.
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