If You’ve Ever Experienced a Panic Attack You Know Just How Serious They Can Feel…
Thankfully, there are some great ways to not only stop a panic attack in its tracks but, with a little work subside the tremours from rearing their ugly head in the first place.
Panic attacks can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes people feel it coming on, other times they just happens all at once.
But we all can agree – they are not fun. At all.
Panic attacks are our body’s fight or flight response. A very useful feature when we lived among the animal kingdom – not so useful in the modern world.
So how do you stop a panic attack? Well, it’s a skill, and luckily for us, it’s a skill we can all develop.
Once you’re aware of what’s happening, you can ‘deploy’ one or more of the following strategies on this page and you’ll be able to direct yourself away from a future attack and back down to earth.
How I Stopped My First Panic Attack
When I had my first panic attack, I definitely thought something was really wrong. Was I having a heart attack? This made me panic more.
I couldn’t focus and felt extremely disoriented. The feeling was so terrifying, I honestly didn’t know what to do. I called up my sister who had experienced them before and she was able to quickly calm me down.
Something that stuck with me was how calm she was about it and how she just kept telling me “nothing is wrong, you’re completely healthy.”
Since it feels like you’re having a heart attack it helps to hear that nothing is actually wrong with your heart.
I still do get panic attacks, but I’ve been able to manage them and get through them without panicking too much. They are still uncomfortable, and I don’t think that will ever go away. The most important part, though, is knowing how to manage them.
17 Proven Ways to Quickly Stop a Panic Attack
Here are 17 things you can do to quickly stop a panic attack. Read through this list and remember some of them in case of a future episode.
1. Deep Breathing
Part of what makes us feel like we’re dying when we have a panic attack is we forget to breathe! Our breath shortens and we don’t inhale enough oxygen.
When you feel an attack coming on, remember to breathe. Practice this simple breathing technique from Anxiety Coach, so you can use it whenever you need it.
It also helps to keep a sticky note or reminder in your phone as a quick go-to.
2. Go for a Walk & Play Some Music
Listen to your body and take a break for a few minutes. Take a walk around the block and get some fresh air.
Listening to some good music also helps, too. Create a playlist full of your favorite songs that you can go to when you feel a panic attack coming on.
There are a lot of songs out there that can help you get through a panic attack.
3. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead puts you in control of your attacks. You might not know exactly when they will happen, but you can learn to understand the symptoms.
Then, you can work on a game plan for when it does happen. If it’s at work, practice finding an escape route.
If it’s a situation you can’t get out of, think about breathing deeply and being mindful. Plan for the situation so that the attack doesn’t feel like the end of the world. This will help you stay calm.
4. Practice Mindfulness
You can check out the top mindfulness exercises I recommend here. Do these at home when you are relaxing, that way you can remember what works for you and use it during times of panic.
There are also a few apps that help like these:
You can take a quick bathroom break during the day and open one of these apps and practice mindfulness for a few minutes. This can bring you back into the present and help calm you down.
5. Think of Your Happy Place (something funny)
Panic attacks feel so serious. It’s honestly hard not to freak out when you feel one coming on.
But, just like any other fears we have, there are ways to overcome that initial state of panic. One of the best ways is by distracting yourself, and even laughing.
- Think of your favorite movie or tv show, or even Youtube video. One that really makes you laugh so hard every time you see it.
Laughing helps because it diffuses the situation. Your brain calms down, and by laughing you learn that a panic attack doesn’t have to be so serious.
When I feel this way, I think of my boyfriend's laugh when he thinks something is really funny. It always cracks me up because he sounds like a little kid.
6. Write Down Your Thoughts & Triggers
Journaling is always a great practice for reducing anxiety and panic attacks. During the times when you feel fine, write down your thoughts on your panic attacks.
This can give you a different perspective for when you are experiencing an attack. And then, when you do have a panic attack, also write down how you’re feeling.
Getting your thoughts out can quickly help calm you down and alleviate some of the symptoms of a panic attack.
7. Repeat a mantra like, “This too Shall Pass”
A simple mantra can go a long way. Just because it’s something very easy to focus on. And your brain will start to believe it.
My mantra is “I think I can, I think I can”, and another popular one is “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming”.
Repeat these in your mind as you experience a panic attack. Keep your mind strong even when the rest of your body feels like it’s breaking down. You can even close your eyes to really help you focus on pushing through the uncomfortable moments.
8. Get Some Space and Talk to Yourself
Get out of the stuffy room that you’re in and get away from all the other people. Find a quiet spot, or even go out to your car if you have one. Then, talk to yourself.
Talk through how you feel and what is going on in your head. Try to understand why you’re having a panic attack in the first place, and figure out a rational spot in your head.
Talking it out is just like writing it out, once it’s out of your head it’s much easier to process.
9. Stop Repressing What is Bothering You
A big issue I’ve noticed is when we don’t feel so great and we feel anxious and nervous, we want to tell someone.
But, when we try to speak up other people are quick to judge and tell you that nothing is wrong with you. Trying to explain a panic attack to someone isn’t easy, and it can become misunderstood pretty quickly.
But, repressing how you’re feeling will only make your panic attacks worse. You’ll feel the pressure to keep things inside, and you’ll think that you shouldn’t even be having panic attacks in the first place.
This can cause a bad cycle to start. Instead, don’t repress how you’re feeling. Reach out to someone who won’t judge you and who understands.
If you want to talk to a therapist, I recommend BetterHelp. Or, you can also reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, which is completely free.
10. Slow Down
I just want to tell you that you are doing enough. No matter how you’re feeling inside or what anyone else tells you.
When you experience a panic attack, focus on slowing down everything around you. You can even pretend like you’re moving in slow motion.
I know it sounds weird, but with the speed we work at nowadays, you’re going to have to slow things way down.
Let go of the deadlines, the pressure from school or your boss, and just stop what you’re doing. Your panic attacks happen because of many different reasons in your life, usually brought on by stress and feeling like you’re not doing enough.
Take 5 minutes out of your day and just take it easy. On the days where you feel really stressed, go slow. Focus on one thing at a time.[socialpug_tweet tweet=”Talking it out is just like writing it out, once it’s out of your head it’s much easier to process.” display_tweet=”Talking it out is just like writing it out, once it’s out of your head it’s much easier to process. Click for more tips to stop a panic attack”]
11. Drink Some Chamomile Tea
Some herbal remedies can help to quickly calm you down.
I personally love to drink some warm tea when I’m feeling anxious and uncomfortable. It feels similar to being wrapped up in a warm blanket.
You can drink some chamomile tea, which has calming effects. Or you can check out some essential oils and keep them near you during the day when you’re prone to anxiety attacks.
12. Stay in the Present & Ground Yourself
Practicing grounding techniques help reduce anxiety and calm you down from a panic attack.
When you feel an attack coming on, try this 54321 game:
- Name 5 things you can see in the room with you.
- Name 4 things you can feel (“chair on my back” or “feet on floor”)
- Name 3 things you can hear right now (“fingers tapping on keyboard” or “tv”)
- Name 2 things you can smell right now (or, 2 things you like the smell of)
- Name 1 good thing about yourself
13. Call a Close Friend
Calling someone you trust can quickly help deescalate the situation.
Reaching out for help is one of the best things you can do, as long as the person is actually helpful on the other end.
Sometimes, we feel like we can’t talk to anyone about what we’re going through because they might not understand it. During a panic attack, you need as much help as you can get. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who can help talk you through it.
Explain how you’re feeling and let them tell you that everything is ok, and get out of your head for a second.
14. Take Care of Yourself
Don’t beat yourself up for feeling the way you do. Also, don’t think you have to push these feelings away.
Embrace how you’re feeling and listen to it. If you’re feeling anxious, take a break.
Spend some time alone and do the things you enjoy. Taking care of yourself helps prevent panic attacks from happening because you’re more in tune with how you feel.
15. Don’t Fight the Anxiety, Go Easy on Yourself
When you're feeling really anxious you don't want to avoid how you're feeling. This can just make you more anxious and cause you to feel on edge around other people.
There's a reason you're feeling anxious, whether that's something in your environment or a chemical imbalance in your brain.
It's OK to feel anxious! And to go easy on those days where you have high anxiety.
Once you learn to stop fighting how you're feeling you will start to understand your anxiety more. You'll learn what your triggers are. Understanding where your anxiety stems from will stop a panic attack in its tracks. Fighting your anxiety will only cause more panic attacks to occur.
Listen to what your anxiety is trying to tell you. If you don't think anything is wrong in your life and you're still feeling anxious, talk to your doctor about it.
Sometimes our bodies don't produce enough serotonin to keep us naturally calm, and this could be what's triggering your panic attacks (if you can't seem to pinpoint what is actually wrong).
16. Let go of the Tension
I grind my teeth and tighten up my whole body when I feel a panic attack coming on, or when I'm just super anxious.
You most likely put a lot of tension on your body when you're reacting to the nervous feelings.
Try to be more conscious of how your body feels. The more tense you are, the harder it is to get yourself to relax. Focus on relaxing your whole body when you're feeling anxious. Take some deep breaths and releasing all of the built-up tension.
You'll quickly start to feel calmer and more in control.
17. Think About After
As a panic attack hits, try to think about what happens when it finally goes away. If you've experienced panic attacks before then you know they do eventually pass.
Close your eyes and think about that moment. Imagine the panic attack passing through your body until it is completely gone.
Thinking about after helps you believe that you will survive this panic attack, since you've done it before. This can help keep you calm and you can allow the attack to come and go.
17 Proven Ways to Quickly Stop a Panic Attack – Conclusion
If you can work on these ways to stop a panic attack, eventually your panic attacks will feel less extreme to you.
They won't have such a big impact on your mentality when you know they will eventually go away.
Furthermore, I share more tips on how to manage anxiety in my mental wellness course Refine Your Life Purpose + Wellness. Here is a preview from one of the lessons:
Introducing Refine Your Life Purpose + Wellness Course
- FIND YOUR PURPOSE
- LET THE PAST GO
- STOP PROCRASTINATING
- TAKE RADICAL ACTION TOWARDS YOUR GOALS
To learn more about this uplifting and informative program, read this!
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