Your heart is beating faster than normal. Your hands are trembling. Your breathing rate is getting out of control. What do you do? Panic even more.
We all do it, its human instinct to panic. But we all are aware it will only worsen the situation. So what’s the right way?
Well, everyone is different, just as everyone panics over different things, everyone has different coping mechanisms. But if you’re fairly new to experience this level of anxiety, it can be an even more daunting and confusing place to be in.
I have a few coping mechanisms I turn to that have been recommended by my therapist. As they have helped my friends who also suffer from anxiety, they could work for you too.
1. Phone A Friend
It might sound like ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ but it does work if you have people to turn to. This is another reason as to why it helps if you open up about your struggle with anxiety to people you trust, they can be there for you at times like this. Whether they come over to comfort you or just tell you to ‘breathe’, most of the time their words don’t matter. Their comforting voice that your mind associates with love, happiness and safety will calm you out of that panic mode you’ve tricked yourself into.
2. Leave The Situation
Whether you’re feeling anxious in a crowd or in your bedroom: leave. If you’re with someone, they will understand if you walk away from them and go to the nearest shop to calm down and if they don’t, they’re not the right people to be around. If you’re sat on your bed that is filled with unfinished work (which is where the majority of my panic attacks occur) then walk out, go have a snack or have a chat with your parents about light-hearted topics, and then when you’re no longer feeling overwhelmed, return. On that note, having a bed full of work can definitely be a trigger. So try having only one paper that you are currently working on and the rest tucked away where you can’t see them.
3. Let It All Out
What do you enjoy doing? Whether it’s singing, drawing or something else, you can definitely incorporate it into your coping mechanisms. If your breathing rate increases, maybe start singing your favourite song. It might sound a little odd, but it will distract you, bring back fond memories and slow down your breathing. If you feel like destroying something but that option isn’t there, get some paper and scribble like mad to release that frustration safely. If your body starts to tremble, dancing can be a way to express your emotions and gain control of your physical body again. One of the main symptoms of a panic attack is a racing mind full of questions and overwhelming worries, if you write them all down you can look at them one at a time and realise the answers aren’t as horrible as you believed. You can even read a book, this will distract you from your problems and take you into someone else’s, which can help you realise your problems aren’t as bad as how you reacted to them.
4. Will It Matter In 6 Months?
You might be panicking over a worry you’ve encountered. Maybe you’ve realised you won’t finish that paper in time for the deadline. Maybe your classmates are overwhelming you with their sniggers and sly comments. Maybe you found out some devastating news. But whatever it is, before you let yourself panic, answer this question. Will it matter in 6 months? The answer is most likely going to be no. You can always talk to your teacher and come to an arrangement, you probably won’t remember or care about what your classmates said and neither will they (especially as you don’t have to see them forever), and the devastating news might be resolved in a few months and it’ll be like nothing happened. There’s no point of driving yourself to panic if in a few months it won’t matter, as you’ll remember this moment regretfully, and wonder why you got so stressed.
5. You Will Survive
If all else fails, and you have to suffer a panic attack, just remember it happens all around the globe. You aren’t alone and even though it can affect you, you can’t die from it. It’s human nature to care and to get anxious, so having panic attacks may require help but it doesn’t make you weaker or more fearful than anyone else.
It just makes you human.