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4 tips to navigating panic attacks


Panic attacks can be terrifying and it can feel like there is no way out, but I promise there is. Understanding the underlying physiology can help us to understand what is really going on and ensure we can best support ourselves in even the most difficult moments.


Panic attacks are a huge surge of adrenaline that rushes through our bodies and its our bodies way or trying to protect us. BUT even though those sensations can linger, they can only peak for a maximum of 15-20 minutes because thats all our bodies can withstand. That means that relief WILL come it just takes time which can feel like forever. I always like to think of a panic attack minute being much much longer than a treadmill minute and it can feel like it lingers on and on, but in reality it can only last for a certain period of time.


Sometimes it may even be helpful to time it when its happening so you can experience how fast it’s dissipating even though it can feel like time stands still in those moments.


Lets now dive into a few tip to help navigate panic attacks as they arise


ONE. DON’T FEED THE BEAST

The first important fact to remember is that those negative thoughts are NOT facts and those bodily symptoms will not harm you in this moment. It may take time to believe it but repeating this to yourself can be helpful. Intrusive thoughts can feel so scary because they are often the exact opposite of what we truly believe. When we recognize these thoughts as anxiety we can begin to create space from them. They are not OUR thoughts, they are anxiety. When we see that space, we can begin to sit with them without fighting them or reacting to them right away.


TWO. SOOTHING PRACTICES


In the middle of a panic attack it can sometimes be difficult to remember the soothing exercises you’ve been told to use - so I invite you to use them even when panic is not something you’re experiencing. The more we engage that calmer side of our nervous system, the better we will be at tapping into that energy when we need it. These strategies are not about ‘solving’ or ‘ending’ a panic attack, they are about bringing ourselves into the present as the symptoms dissipate rather than pushing them away. When we practice these skills when we aren’t experiencing panic then our minds and bodies know what to do in those intense moments.


THREE. CALMING SKILLS.


As I mentioned in the previous tip, practicing these skills can be helpful in navigating panic but what do these skills even look like? A few that I have found helpful have been using cold water on my face or submerging my feet, sucking on a sour candy to stimulate saliva production, using essential oils (I like peppermint) to provide a cooling effect, or moving my body to help dissipate some of the adrenaline building up in my body. The skills you use will be entirely dependent on what you find works and what is easier for you to implement. Remember it may take time to find out what works best for you - and thats okay. Sometimes we try to place a round peg in a square hole by forcing ourselves to do that certain exercise we saw on tiktok or on instagram that other people said worked, but it really does nothing for us. It will take time to experiment on what works best for you!

FOUR. FOCUS ON ACCEPTANCE

Now many people will tell you to work on acceptance rather than resistance when it comes in panic attacks, and thats great until you actually experience a panic attack and then all of those thoughts can go out the window. The goal with acceptance is not to complacent with panic attacks being ‘a part of who you are’ or ‘ something you’re stuck with’ because that is NOT true. You are NOT defined by your experience with anxiety. Acceptance is about recognizing in that moment you can’t simply make it all go away. The answer to moving through anxiety and panic is to as I said, move through it rather than push that discomfort away. Acceptance is recognizing that you CAN get through these moments and its okay to experience this discomfort because it WILL pass.


These skills can take time to practice, but can be incredibly valuable for you as you move through anxiety healing.


If you’d like to dive deeper into anxiety healing - check out my anxiety healing guide and course where I dive deeper into many of these topics and provide you a framework to heal. Use code ANXIETY20 for 20% off :)


Sending love,

Carly

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