When we are having a panic attack, it is very difficult, if not impossible to help ourselves with our minds. Rational self-talk is useless. Others cannot convince us, and even if they could, we cannot rely on others all the time.
We have to develop techniques that work for us!
Simply put, to pull yourself out of a panic attack and back down to earth, you have to engage your senses!
Luckily we have 5 to choose from, and we can mix them up and tailor them to what we like and works best for us.
The 5 senses are:
Here are a few examples that you can try:
Look around you, are there any books, posters or any form of text? If yes, start to say each letter of each word. You can either do this out loud or to yourself. As long as you focus on each individual letter. If it is a short amount of text, then you can start from the beginning to the end, then the last letter and go backwards. Do this as many times as you need to feel better. If there is no text, what can you see? A TV – ok, spell it in your mind. Once you do that, try to spell it backwards. This technique can pull you out of even a strong panic attack.
This is a tricky one, as maybe you heard something that distressed you. If this is the case, try to engage the other senses instead. If you feel safe to, try to listen and say what you hear. Can you hear cars, birds? The TV perhaps? Try to focus on the sound. Only use this technique if the sound does not distress you even further though.
This is my personal favourite. If you can, keep something with you that smells good. The smell has to be strong though, as it needs to jolt you back to the present. Make sure that it is something natural also.
I like to use Anjou Essential Oils set as they are 100% natural & vegan & there are lots of different smells, but I feel that the peppermint works best for me! I like that I can get them on Amazon too – https://amzn.to/3hzbrKS.
Another handy tip, may seem like a strange one but I guarantee that it is so useful is a Olbas inhaler. They are natural & I find that the smell is stronger than the oils & really helps to bring someone out of a panic attack quickly – https://amzn.to/33CKIZ4. It is easy to carry around too.
Water truly is the best way to calm yourself down & also to keep yourself calm throughout the day, so make sure to get yourself a nice water bottle & carry it with you throughout the day. The best type is one with a filter so that you can drink tap water all day, and refill as you go, something like a Brita bottle – https://amzn.to/3koXroX. I always drink filtered water, as I drink so much throughout the day and it means you can refill when you are out and about. Never go out without water! It is an anxiety must have!
A way to prepare for attack is to put lemon or limes in your water. I have read a lot about it and the citrus really helps to pull us back to reality, which we need when we are in an attack. So make sure to always have some lemon water with you. It is a healthy little safety blanket! A lot is about feeling safe too. So surround yourself with things that make you feel safe.
When you feel that you are in a panic attack, try to focus on what you can touch. Can you feel the floor beneath your feet? Is it cold? What can you touch? Try to feel different types of surfaces if you have them around you. Are they rough or smooth? Cold or warm? Does it feel nice to touch? Ask yourself as many questions about the thing you are touching, to draw your attention towards the thing that you are touching and away from the panic.
Anxiety comes from either conscious or unconsciously feeling unsafe. Having techniques to give us the confidence to feel safe within ourselves and our environment is extremely important. Using our senses is the best and most effective strategy, & I hope these tips work for you. Just make sure that any additions into your life are natural & healthy. Always, always talk to your doctor when in doubt!