Panic Attack Tips | 15 Effective Strategies for Calming Down

panic attack tips

From breathing exercises to grounding techniques, there are various panic attack tips you can try if you’re struggling.

Panic attacks can be incredibly distressing and overwhelming, but there are several techniques you can use to help manage and reduce their intensity.

Some of these panic attack tips might help make a real difference when you find yourself in the midst of an anxiety-induced episode.

I’ve been struggling with panic attacks for as long as I can remember, and I’ve tried various of the techniques mentioned. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, the best thing to do is just ride out the panic, as horrible as it is.

But the trick to mastering your anxiety is to find what works for you.

How to Stop a Panic Attack

There are numerous techniques that people use to stop panic attacks. Not every strategy works for everyone, but you might find one that works for you.

To halt a panic attack, you can experiment with breathing exercises, grounding techniques or seek a supportive presence. No matter what panic attack tips you’re using, you should always practice self-compassion, and it might be worth considering professional help for long-term management.

Positive Self-talk

positive self talk

When a panic attack strikes, your mind can become flooded with negative thoughts and fears. These intrusive thoughts can be debilitating. You can counteract this by practicing positive self-talk.

Remind yourself that you’ve gotten through panic attacks before, and you can do it again. Tell yourself that this too shall pass, and you are in control.

Refocus your Attention

focus attention

Redirect your focus away from the panic by engaging your mind. Start counting backward, recite the lyrics of your favorite song, or list objects of a particular color around you. This shift in attention can help break the cycle of anxiety.

Fixating on the thoughts and sensations often just makes things worse.

Dance to Music

panic attack dance

Music has the power to soothe the soul. Create a playlist of music for panic attacks or do some research on calming music or meditation tracks specifically designed for anxiety and panic attacks.

When you feel a panic attack coming on, put on your headphones, close your eyes, and dance or simply immerse yourself in the music. Two of my all-time favorite panic attack songs are:

Not Giving In (feat John Newman and Alex Clare) – Rudimental

OK (feat James Blunt) – Robin Schulz

Splash Cold Water on Your Face

splash face with water

A sudden shock of cold water can help ground you during a panic attack. Go to the nearest sink, splash your face with cold water, and focus on the sensations. Splashing the cold water activates the mammalian diving reflex, and calms you down.

This can help disrupt the panic’s momentum and bring you back to the present moment.

Go Outside

go outside

Stepping into the fresh air and natural surroundings can be remarkably grounding. Find a quiet spot outdoors, take deep breaths, and connect with nature. The change of scenery can often alleviate the intensity of a panic attack, and it can activate your happy chemicals.

Eat Something Sour

eat something sour

Sour flavors can help interrupt the physiological response to anxiety. Carry a small snack like a lemon wedge or sour candy with you.

When a panic attack begins, taste the sourness, which can signal your body to relax.

Snuggle a Pet

snuggle a pet

If you have a furry friend, their presence can be incredibly comforting during a panic attack. The act of petting or cuddling with them releases oxytocin, a hormone that reduces stress and promotes bonding. The frequency of a cat’s purrs can also lower stress levels.

Reach Out to Someone

reach out to someone

Don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted friend or family member when you’re experiencing a panic attack. Sometimes, just talking to someone who understands and cares can be immensely reassuring and grounding.

You can also use the touch to help you ground yourself. There’s nothing like a hug to keep you together when it feels like everything is falling apart.

Hand Upside Down for 3 Minutes

hang upside down
hang off chair
hanging upside down panic attack

This simple technique involves hanging your head upside down for about three minutes. It helps redirect blood flow and can offer relief from the physical symptoms of a panic attack, such as dizziness and shortness of breath.

You can hang your head off the side of your bed and let the blood flow to your head. This is just one of the benefits that comes with a practice like aerial yoga.

Watch a Funny TV Show or Movie

laughter panic attacks tips

Laughter is medicine and a powerful antidote to anxiety. Keep a list of your favorite funny TV shows or movies handy. When a panic attack strikes, watch one of them to shift your focus and boost your mood.

My go-to shows are Big Bang Theory, Modern Family and How I Met Your Mother.

Use a Cold Compress

cold compress for anxiety

Apply a cold compress, such as an ice pack wrapped in a towel, to your forehead or the back of your neck. The sensation of cold can help calm the physical symptoms associated with panic attacks, like racing heartbeats and sweating.

Take Ten Deep Breaths

take deep breath

There are plenty of different breathing tips for panic attacks. This is just one of them.

By taking deep breaths, you’ll be able to center yourself and connect with your environment.

1. Take ten slow, deep breaths. Focus on breathing out as slowly as possible until the lungs are completely empty, and then allow them to refill by themselves.

2. Notice the sensations of your lungs emptying. Acknoweldge them refilling. Notice your rib cage rising and falling. Feels the gentle rise and fall of your shoulders.

3. See if you can let your thoughts come and go as if they’re just passing cars, driving past outside your house.

4. Expand your awareness: simultaneously notice your breathing and your body. Then, look around the room and notice what you can see, hear, smell, touch, and feel.

I struggle with breathing techniques during panic attacks, often fixating too much and developing a fear of breath. It’s one of those things that doesn’t work for me, but it might be a complete game-changer for you.

Drop Anchor

grounding techniques

Grounding is incredibly powerful. Being mindfully and pulling yourself into the present moment can help when your mind is spiraling.

1. Plant your feet into the floor.

2. Push them down and notice the floor beneath you, supporting you.

3. Notice the muscle tension in your legs as you push your feet down.

4. Notice your entire body and the feeling of gravity flowing down through your head, spine, and legs into your feet.

5. Now look around and notice what you can see and hear around you. Notice where you are and what you’re doing.

54321 Technique

panic attack symptoms

The 54321 technique is another great strategy for grounding and one of my favorite panic attack tips.

If you’re feeling really anxious, practice it throughout the day, especially any time you find yourself getting caught up in your thoughts and feelings or you feel a panic attack coming on.

1. Pause for a moment

2. Look around and notice five things that you can see.

3. Listen carefully and notice five things that you can hear.

4. Notice five things that you can feel in contact with your body (for example, your watch against your wrist, your trousers against your legs, the air on your face, your feet upon the floor, your back against the chair).

5. Finally, do all of the above simultaneously

Be Curious

tips panic attack

My go-to strategy for handling panic attacks nowadays is practicing curiosity. When I feel a panic attack coming on, I try to figure out the why. I’ve spent a lot of time learning about myself and my anxiety, and I know that when I’m having a panic attack, it’s usually for a reason. And once I figure out that reason, the panic attack fades away.

Additional Tips for Dealing with Panic Attacks

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Tense and release each muscle group in your body systematically to reduce physical tension.
  • Mindfulness Meditation: Practice mindfulness to stay present and observe panic-inducing thoughts without judgment.
  • Visualization: Picture a calming, safe place in your mind to divert your focus from the panic.
  • Aromatherapy: Use calming scents like lavender or chamomile to soothe your senses.
  • Use a Weighted Blanket: The gentle pressure of a weighted blanket can provide a sense of security and calm during a panic attack. If you don’t have a weighted blanket, you can always ask someone to lie on top of you (as silly as that might sound, it’s quite soothing).
  • Exercise Regularly: Physical activity can help reduce overall anxiety levels. For example, yoga is great for panic attacks.
  • Medication: In severe cases, consult a healthcare professional about medication options. If you’re feeling really out of control, sometimes taking something to calm you down is the best solution.

Keep in mind that not all panic attack tips work the same for everyone. It’s really important for you to find what works best for you. The only way to do this is through experimentation. While you can manage this process alone, it’s beneficial to embark on this journey with help from a loved one or mental health professional.

calming the rush of panic

Calming the Rush of Panic

Panic attacks suck. There’s no sugarcoating it. But the more you know about this trauma response, the better you can manage and master your anxiety. With the right strategies, you can reduce the impact of panic attacks.

Once again, remember that these tips are not one-size-fits-all, and what works best for you may vary. Be patient with yourself, and seek professional help if you find that panic attacks are severely affecting your life. You’re not alone in this journey, and there is support available to help you regain control and find relief.

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