Having a panic attack in class is the worse. You’re supposed to be focusing on the lesson that’s being taught but instead, you’re freaking out in your head. I’ve been there and as a teenager, I know the fear of having to run out of a classroom or the fear of being judged by your classmates. So, you sit and you panic harder and longer.
Fortunately, the stigma associated with mental health has changed drastically since I was in school and people are much more understanding and open to anxiety than they once were. At the least, you can tell someone you’re having a panic attack in class without them looking at you like you have 5 heads.
But you don’t care. All you care about is getting this damn panic attack to stop! I know what that’s like. In fact, I can relate so much so that back to school anxiety should have been my middle name. On the bright side, all the panic attacks taught me how to come out of a panic attack in class and that’s what I’m sharing with you today.
5 Powerful Ways to Come out of a Panic Attack in Class
Here are the five most powerful ways you can come out of a panic attack in class without anyone ever knowing what’s going on in your head.
1. Take a sip of water
One thing I always have on me up until this day is a water bottle. It’s my security blanket, as it is for most people suffering from anxiety because water has a wonderful way of instantly decreasing your anxiety. So, always have a water bottle in your backpack and drink as needed. If your teacher insists no food or beverages in class, pull them aside and explain your anxiety. That should be enough for them to make the exception. If not, explain that you have an illness and need the water. If your teacher still doesn’t get it, they need to welcome themselves into the 21st century of mental health awareness.
At this point, I’d speak with the principal to tell them that you need your water to come out of a panic attack in class. However, I’ve never ever had a teacher force me to get rid of my water bottle and like I said, times have gotten better since than. So, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Having water in class is beneficial for various reasons but specifically for anxiety, it’ll instantly bring you calming elements. So, take a sip, breathe and carry on to the next back to school anxiety tip.
2. Use grounding techniques
The good thing about having a panic attack in class is that you’re surrounded by things that can take your focus away from the attack. You have the teacher talking, 30 students around you all wearing different outfits, colours, brands, styles, posters on the wall, notebooks in front of you – the list goes on.
All of these things can be used as grounding tools. Narrow in on what the teacher is saying, watch the way he or she enunciates words and focus on every sound, movement, gesture they make. If that isn’t working, take a look at all your classmates. Count how many people have red shirts on, how many people have white sneakers or try to spell everyone’s name backwards in your head. This will instantly distract your mind from your attack which is the key to stopping a panic attack in class – or wherever you are.
3. Don’t be afraid to talk to your teacher
Most teachers are incredibly understanding. After all, they chose a career path that surrounds them with children and teens all looking for guidance in one way or another. So, don’t be scared to talk to your teacher about what’s going on. There were many times I’d walk into a classroom, see a new teacher and quietly say to them, I have panic attacks in class sometimes, so if I have to excuse myself, is that ok? The answer was always, “Of course!”
Believe it or not, over the years I never had to leave a classroom because of a panic attack. I always came out of it and that was because I didn’t feel trapped in the room. I knew that I could leave because I was open with my teachers. So, this tip will help your anxiety in many ways.
4. Make use of the school’s mental health services
Your school has additionally services available to you if need be. For example, if you’re experiencing high anxiety during tests, there’s likely a separate room you can go to take tests. You likely have a guidance counselor, maybe even a mental health sector, and caring adults surrounding you at any given time. Take advantage of this.
If you need to talk to someone, do it. Don’t bottle up your emotions and anxiety, as this is only going to make your anxiety worse. Teachers and counselors are there to help you learn and to help you grow as an individual. They aren’t just adults standing at the front of a classroom who don’t give two cares about you. So, reach out to them in times of need. You’ll be surprised at how helpful this is. Teachers are full of words of wisdom that can put you and your mind back on track.
5. Sit close to the door
At times when I was experiencing high anxiety in class, I always sat close to the door. This gave me the confidence knowing that if I had to leave due to a panic attack in class, I could.
However, not all teachers allowed you to pick your own seats. Even if they do, you won’t always get the seat you want. Plus, if you’re chatty like I am, the seat you choose is likely to change as you’ll get moved away from your friends. The key? Stop talking in class and you can sit in the spot you chose.
Although, that’s often easier said than done.
If you find yourself getting stuck in the back corner furthest away from the door, resort back to step three. Speak with your teacher. Let them know that you feel most comfortable closest to the door in case you have a panic attack in class. Chances are, they’ll let you sit there. At times, teachers even let me set in the hallway to do my work – more like I was forced to sit out there because I wouldn’t stop talking, but you get what I mean.
Teachers provide solutions. That’s what they do. So, reach out to them.
The worst thing you can do when having a panic attack in class or in school is bottle it up. Speaking with a teacher or guidance counselor will instantly decrease your anxiety. When a teacher doesn’t know what’s going on, they can’t help you. So, don’t be ashamed of your mental illness. Reaching out to a teacher will help them help you overcome this terrible struggle in and outside of the classroom.