When we experience panic or anxiety attacks, the biggest response is usually fear. Fear of death, fear of isolation, fear of no control, fear of the feeling lasting forever. Those are some of the things I've experienced. The most helpful 'tool in my toolbox' (a phrase my Grandmother uses) to help me through a panic attack is knowledge.
My first anxiety attack was by far the worst because I had no idea what was going on. I literally thought I was going crazy. Today through learning, reading, talking, sharing, I am able to successfully talk myself out of a full-blown panic attack on most occasions.
It's uncomfortable for me to admit this but yes, I experienced an more-intense-than-usual anxiety attack a little while ago. I still struggle with this. They always sneak up out of nowhere, don't they?
In the midst of the chaos, I realized I was talking to myself (in my head, don't worry). Once I came to this epiphany, that I did actually know what was going on with my body and why it was happening, I was so excited! How cool is it to learn new things about yourself?
Everything seems less scary to me when I understand it. Knowledge is power.
After the event dissipated I immediately started writing my thought process down. I knew I had to share it and perhaps you'll be able to learn something new and become more successful at talking yourself through scary moments.
How to talk yourself through a panic attack:
- Understand what is going on with your body. When you experience a panic attack or feel that initial rush of adrenaline, your neurotransmitters in your brain are firing like crazy. Sometimes they don't calm down quite as they should, and your body thinks it's in immediate danger. Sometimes this happens out of nowhere, with no observable trigger. This is why it's called an "attack". Pause and realize what's going on. Talk to your neurotransmitters- become friends with them!
- Realizing you CAN still breathe. Take. Deep. Breaths.
- Nothing lasts forever. Even this unbearable feeling. You may have to repeat this out loud. "I am okay, I am okay, I am okay."
- I'm not alone, you're not alone.
- Be kind to yourself. You are not weak, you are not lesser.
- Understand your triggers if they exist. Try to figure out what triggers your panic and think about why.
It's no secret holidays cause stress. No matter how hard I try to remain calm, it has yet to happen. Between family tensions and holiday shopping, there is a lot of pressure.
I might experience some panic, maybe you will too. With some practice we will be able to fight the anxiety and talk ourselves down and be able to spend more time reflecting on the reason for the season rather than in our own heads.
Merry Christmas xox