Just like everyone is unique unto themselves, so it is with panic attacks. Why a person will panic when another doesn’t differs so much so that solutions to the problem are difficult and painstaking. Telling someone that “here is an easy answer” is like throwing a blanket over every illness on the planet and treating them all with aspirin just because it can get rid of a headache. Sometimes it will work, other times it won’t.
Sound encouraging? I didn’t think so.
That being said, I am going to offer advice. Why? Simply because I don’t think anyone should throw their hands up and give up. That is not my philosophy. It may be a tough life to always have to fight anxiety, but the alternative is way worse.
This posting is going to talk about panic attacks and how to start fighting back.
The first step in dealing with panic is to IDENTIFY an attack. This isn’t hard to do, but again, they differ from person to person. You will know the symptoms of your attack.
The next thing to do is to recognize the TRIGGERS. Triggers may be one or multiple items/events/senses that cause the attack to take place. A person can have hundreds of triggers, so don’t sweat it out if you can’t list them all or get the number right. Soon you will see patterns in your triggers. We will deal with this another day.
I am going to discuss one trigger combination that is common to a lot of panic attacks and will show us how the mind fools the body into doing things that are not good for us. I am going to talk about the confusion between exercise and anxiety or panic attacks.
Picture this: you are outside getting some exercise. This could be anything from doing yard work to playing ball to taking a brisk walk. Your heart starts beating faster. Your breathing is deeper. And you start to sweat. And then your mind sabotages you…
“Hey wait a minute” it thinks. “These are panic attack symptoms. I am having a panic attack.”
But you aren’t. These are normal bodily reactions to increased activity. So now what do you do before a full-blown attack is underway?
UNRAVEL THE ATTACK.
Step back from the situation. Pause. Think. Use self-talk and tell yourself that everything is fine. You can say this out loud if you need to, it doesn’t matter. (Screaming isn’t too smart, though, as it attracts attention – and not in a good way.) After a while – could be a long while – you will be able to convince your mind that this is not a panic attack, and the body will be happier for it. It takes practice.
Does this sound over-simplified? Perhaps. But again, there are no quick and easy answers, so you will need to experiment and see what words and/or actions unravel your attack.
Soon I will be compiling a list of common, easy-to-do “tricks” I use in my arsenal of weapons against panic attacks. Maybe with a little practice, you will able to come up with some of your own and share them. You may even be able to help others along the way.
The main thing to remember is to never give up! Never, ever!