I have said the best way to beat a panic attack is by using distraction (link to that blog post here). This is great for when you are overwhelmed by an panic attack and just need it to be over with as quickly as possible. Shit, every panic attack is like that!
Sure, in some situations I need to use distraction. For example, when I am driving on a highway with people in the car, or being surprised by a panic attack coming out of nowhere or when I am on a plane which is a situation I fear the most. Times like these I stick to distraction and try to get it over with ASAP. But this doesn’t help me in the long run.
When I am in a better place I try to face my panic attacks. I can do this when I am home, when my husband is around, when I don’t have a lot going on or when I have been doing well with my anxiety. The experience of facing my panic attacks when I am in a “safe place” helps me gain confidence from getting through them without fighting them.
It is easier to face them by riding them out than fighting them. If you fight them you get all worked up and you lose control over the situation quickly. For me, trying to go with the flow of my anxiety instead of fighting it is easier. If you do a good job facing the panic attack you might not be as worried about having another one because you know you can handle it.
I have spent a lot of time worry about having a panic attack. When you have been good about facing them this fear starts to diminish. You realize that they are not that scary and that you can deal with them and you can!
Advice for facing your panic attack and riding it out instead of fighting it.
- Let yourself feel the physical sensations of the anxiety and pay attention to your thoughts instead of fighting them.
- Detach yourself from the physical symptoms- observe them like you were a doctor or scientist. Think about one symptom at a time and what it is doing to your body.
- Listen to the scary thoughts going through your mind. Take each one and think about it. Why is it making you feel panicked? Is this thought real? Is there a real threat? What is a more logical response to this threat?
- For example- I am afraid I am dying or going crazy. A logical response is- you are not going to die or go crazy from a panic attack so this should not make you anxious. This is just anxiety and you are not in any real danger.
- Think of your scary thoughts as clouds passing over you. They will keep moving and brighter clear skies are ahead. Also, they are just thoughts floating in your brain and it doesn’t mean they are real and should be taken seriously.
- Picture your anxiety like a wave washing over you. It hits you hard but all the water will drip down your body and roll away. It won’t stay with you for long.
I hope this helps you!