Panic serves a purpose in life and it can keep you safe in dire situations. For example, if you’re driving along and suddenly, an oncoming car is about to hit, your adrenaline kicks in and you sense of panic takes over as a form of survival. But a panic attack is different and you certainly don’t need a potential car accident to bring it on. In this article, we discuss how to cope with panic attacks so you can keep your anxiety at bay when panic isn’t serving a valuable purpose.
What is a panic attack?
A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that can seemingly come out of nowhere, for no apparent cause and when no threat or danger is even remotely near. The intense rush of fear triggers severe physical reactions that can make you feel disconnected from your body and the world around you, nauseous, dizzy and completely frozen in time. Your brain may even have you thinking that you’re losing control, having a heart attack or dying, and as you can imagine, they are incredibly frightening.
Coping strategies for panic attacks and anxiety
Having a handful of coping strategies for anxiety is key to overcoming those anxious moments and sudden rushes of fear. Knowing how to cope with panic attacks will also give you the confidence and reassurance needed to go out there and face your fears and triggers, which is essential for getting over anxiety. But you don’t have to head into your panic attacks blindly and with no support. There are a ton of coping skills and strategies that you can use to calm an anxious thoughts and feelings as they come, so you can face your fears. The more you continue to do so, the easier that trigger will become and eventually, it won’t trigger any anxiety at all. Then, you can move onto the next things and the next, and eventually be free of anxiety and panic attacks.
Here are some coping skills, calming methods and relaxation items that can help you learn how to cope with panic attacks:
Use a spinning anxiety ring to induce a natural sense of relaxation
Spinning rings are an effective coping tool for anxiety that allow you to induce relaxation simply by spinning the band on the anxiety ring. They can be used as a fidget tool – and one that is far less distracting and noisy than other fidget items, to stay in the present moment or to slow your breathing and bring calmness into your mind.
Our collection of anxiety spinning rings are made with high quality silver, so you can wear them as much as you want without worrying about them breaking when you need them the most or turning your finger green.
Use deep breathing techniques
When panic attacks happen, your breathing becomes short, quick, and shallow, which can actually increase or worsen your anxious feelings. On the other hand, slowing down your breath can induce a sense of calm and bring you out of your panic attack. And your breath is always available to you, making breathing techniques one of the top coping strategies for anxiety. They’re also clinically proven to work.
There are a plethora of effective breathing techniques to use for anxiety but to get you started, one of the easiest coping strategies is box breathing, which combines breath and visualization for a double-whammy against anxiety. Here are the steps to using it:
- Pause for four seconds and imagine drawing one straight line of a square
- Breathe in for four seconds and visualize drawing a second straight line of a square
- Hold for four seconds and visualize drawing a third straight line of a square
- Exhale for four seconds and visualize drawing the last straight line of a square
Use grounding techniques to eliminate extra external stimuli
During a panic attack, everything that is going on around you – from the sounds to the sights – can make you fall deeper into your panic, causing you to feel disconnected and disassociated from your body and surroundings. An excellent coping strategy for this is to use grounding techniques, such as the one mentioned above. This will help you drown out some of the external stimuli and help you focus on calming down.
Use stone for anxiety relief
If you’re into crystals and all the healing energy that they offer, grab some stones for anxiety and stuff them in your purse, pocket or bra. Using crystals for anxiety relief is a simple and easy way to induce a sense of calm and confidence as you trek towards conquering those fears and triggers. You can also use stones for anxiety as a fidget tool or distraction: narrow in your focus on the texture, the energy, the colour, and whatever else you can find about that particular crystal. I am personally a huge fan of using worry stones for anxiety, as they have a long history of being an effective form of relief.
Get your body moving
When learning how to cope with panic attacks, one of the best things you can do is add in some regular exercise into your day. Exercise increases endorphins in the brain which effectively reduce anxiety and panic attacks while also allowing you to release any tension or stress being stored in the body. You can do something vigorous to sweat it all out, or enjoy a nice stroll around the block to start harnessing the benefits of exercise. Although, exercising outdoors does give you the extra benefit of fresh air, which is great for your mental health.
Challenge negative thoughts
Having negative thoughts is nothing to be ashamed of. We all have them. However, learning how to challenge your negative thoughts is an effective coping strategy that can stop anxiety in its tracks. For example, when a panic attack starts, your brain immediately goes to a place where the worst of the worse is going to happen. Your thoughts start telling you that you’re going to die or throw up or completely fall apart – all of which are negative thoughts that throw you even further into a panic.
Instead, try to challenge your negative thoughts with the coping strategies mentioned above or with the power of positive affirmations. For example, instead of thinking “I’m going to die!”, repeatedly tell yourself that you are calm, you are in control, you are safe and that you will get through this feeling.
Learning how to challenge negative thoughts is one of the most important things you can do when learning how to cope with panic attacks.
Practice mindfulness and meditation
They aren’t just buzz words! Practicing mindfulness can help train your mind to stay in the present moment when experiencing anxiety, which can help prevent you from being swept deeping into a panic. Meditation is a form of mindfulness that will completely transform your life and, if I must say so myself, is one of the best things you can do when learning how to cope with panic attacks. Here are some coping strategies you can use that involve mindfulness and meditation:
- Start every day with an intention
- Focus on your (positive) thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations
- Enjoy some adult colouring (our mini adult colouring book is perfect for doodling on the go)
- Visualize your thoughts as pictures or words
- Watch your thoughts float away without obsessing or analyzing them..
- Do a guided meditation or mindfulness practice
- Project positivity and happiness (invest in wishing other people well, instead of the opposite)
- Use binaural audio tones to re-program your brain
Use a happy place visualization
An excellent self-soothing technique is to imagine yourself in a peaceful, safe space where you can relax. This could be a place you have visited before and felt super calm and relaxed, such as on the ocean or in a forest, or it could be an imaginary place, like floating on a white cloud. You can choose any place that makes you feel safe and go there anytime you feel your anxiety creeping it. The key to using this coping strategy is to use all of your senses – your taste, touch, hearing, smell, and sight as you imagine your safe space. For example, if your safe place is at a beach, feel the sand between your toes, smell and taste the salty ocean air, and hear the rolling waves.
Use natural supplements for a healthy dose of relaxation
Sometimes all you need to overcome anxiety is a healthy dose of nutrition that can help you feel more calm. In fact, there are many vitamins and minerals that, when you don’t get enough of them, can cause a spike in anxiety. Magnesium is one of those things. There are also supplements that can act as a natural healer, such as CBD oil. So, explore your options and if you aren’t sure what you need, take a look at our list of the top supplements for anxiety.
Whatever coping strategies you choose to use, remember that learning how to cope with panic attacks requires you to face your fears. You cannot avoid the things triggering your anxiety, but you also don’t have to face your anxiety all on your own. That’s what these awesome coping skills, strategies and relaxation items are for – to help you ease into those situations until they no longer trigger your anxiety. Grab a friend for support or consider online therapy to develop new coping skills that will help you along the way.
This blog post is sponsored by BetterHelp, but all opinions are my own. I may receive compensation from BetterHelp or other sources if you purchase products or services through the links provided on this page.