How to Cope with a Panic Attack

My relationship with anxiety is quite odd. Even my dear therapist pointed that out to me. Well, anxiety leaves me alone during the day but once the sun sets down and it gets dark outside, it decided to cling to me. Does that sound strange to you? My anxiety attacks and episodes usually happen during the night. This is unsuitable because of countless reasons :-

  • Nobody is up to help you or listen to you.
  • Nobody is there to interrupt your thought process.
  • You tend to feel lonelier than usual at night.
  • It’s dark outside so there is a degree of uncertainty attached to everything.
  • It is most likely going to affect your sleep.
  • It is also likely to influence your dreams. I usually have nightmares if I sleep without resolving my episode.
  • It is also likely to affect your next day due to insufficient sleep and nightmares.

But, I am not here to talk and whine about the dark side but kind of try and focus on the positive and how to deal with this sticky situation. These things tend to work for me and have been working since pretty much forever. My body has thankfully not developed a tolerance to them yet.

  • I always try and describe or write about my state of mind and my feelings at that moment. This helps in several ways since it not only helps you to let out a lot of your agonies but also, it let’s somebody who helps you understand you and what you are going through better. I tend to write to my therapist about my troubles and everything while going through one. I am fortunate to have access to a therapist but the problem with therapy is that I am usually not in a troubled state of mind when I go for it. The side of me during therapy does not do justice to my anxious and gloomy side which tends to shine once the sun sets down. I know it is hard to just function while you are going through a panic attack but just try it once, it’s a massive relief.
  • Once somebody develops some form of mental struggles, they lose a chunk of themselves. With me, I lost the ability to read, write and socialize. They were my coping mechanisms before and unfortunately, I cannot enjoy any of these activities anymore. But, one thing I haven’t lost is my love for tea. Before somebody freaks out, hear me out. I am a self proclaimed tea therapist and I highly encourage people to use tea to calm themselves down. I am not talking about heavily caffeinated teas such as chai, green tea, white tea etc. I am talking about non caffeinated teas such as Peppermint tea, Chamomile Tea, Rose Bud Tea etc. You can also make your own tea blend by using dried flowers. My recommendation is investing in Chamomile Tea. You can literally feel your entire body relax when you drink it. Also, I like to cup the tea cup with my hands.

Like this! It literally feels like this soothing warmth engulfs you and comforts you.

  • A problem I face very often is this feeling of choking and breathlessness. You know, however much you breathe your lungs just don’t seem satisfied. I know it sounds silly but if this starts happening to you JUST LEAVE THE ROOM. Now. Go somewhere open where there is fresh air and it doesn’t seem constrained. No, I do not mean outside the comforts of your home, I mean just something like a Balcony. Stay there and feel the wind gushing through your hair and let the fresh air burst into your lungs. Stay there till you feel better.
  • This is a technique my therapist taught me. There are 3 things which you can do while going through an episode

1. Be Stationary. Do not pace around. Calm down. Lay on your bed and cover yourself with blankets and become a human burrito. Just kidding. Be comfortable. With me, moving around and not staying still makes me feel vulnerable.

2. Slow Breathing. Take the deepest breathes you can ever take. Focus on your breathing. Yes, I am aware that I sound like a Meditation teacher.

3. Safe Thought. This is the most important one and TRUST ME, IT WORKS. You have to dig into your mind for this. Find a thought or a memory or a sensation which makes you feel safe and hopeful. It can be something as simple as a pizza or your mum’s smell. You should have at least 3 safe thoughts. I have 2. When you think of them, something magical happens and your entire body relaxes and this feeling of hope runs through your body. The hope carries with itself a message that you have so much to look forward to.

  • This one is silly because I do not think that I have the best taste in music but, make a playlist. I call my playlist ‘You Know What To Do’. It contains work of sheer art like:-

Blue Monday — New Order

Midnight City — M83

City of Blinding Lights- U2

Lush Life — Zara Larsson

The Way I Are — Timbaland

Young Folks — Peter Bjorn And John

Foster The People — Pumped Up Kicks

Empire State of Mind — JayZ

Why do I have such a diverse taste in music? I do not know. The whole point behind making a playlist is to fill them with songs with which you have a optimistic and happy memory attached. For instance, I was listening to Empire State of Mind when I landed in NYC for the first time.

  • I also do the same thing with smells. I like to close my eyes, lay down and just feel all the smells and the sensations happening around me. It is a form of meditation in itself and helps to stimulate your mind. I use fragrances which remind me of happy places and memories. I’d spray this perfume which I have been saving for years and just let it do the work.
  • Take a hot relaxing. This is my favorite thing to do. It not only gives you the space to be alone and think but in a relaxing environment.

So, I hope this helps at least somebody out there.