How can I get myself to use grounding/breathing techniques in the midst of a panic attack when I am the least likely to do them?
Last Updated: 07/25/2018 at 1:37am
Lisa Meighan, BSc Psychology (Honours)
Hello, I am Lisa and I work in a person-centred approach mixed with cognitive behavioural therapy. I believe we all have the potential to be the best we can be.
Top Rated Answers
Allow, Observe and Release. ALLOW. You allow the feelings to enter into your mind. You do not resist it. Allowing the full emotion to course through you. OBSERVE. You step back from the emotion. You view it as you would view a movie on a movie screen - your life. When observing it you remove moral judgement from it, it's neither good nor bad. It is. You observe how strong it is. RELEASE. You release the emotion and rewrite the story of your life anew, with the emotion overcome, learned.
Doing active checks throughout the day to get used to the action of calming down and relaxing. If you practice taking control beforehand when you aren't stressed, you will be better equipped to deal with unexpected stress.
The fact is, you just do them. When you're breathing rapidly and feel like the whole world is crashing down on your like a crazy swarm of bees, you're gonna have a hard time realizing what you're doing. Self-observation practices, I think, may help. Try to view yourself from a distance and see if there's anything you can do to bring you back from your panics. Who knows, you may find yourself with more control that you previously thought! :D
Before you panic (when you're moderately stressed out, anxious, etc.) remind yourself to breathe. Even if you don't need the techniques at the moment, you'll get into the habit of telling yourself to breathe.
What helped me was to make a list on my phone of different things I could to calm down during a panic attack. That was useful because I tend to have my phone near my at all times and because all I had to remember was that I had the list, not the actual grounding techniques themselves.
The best thing to do is stop the panic before it happens but if not yes it will be harder. The best thing you can do is use your senses. Drink some water, pour it on your face, smell a strong fragrance, touch something and try to feel it. If you do this it might help calm you enough to try the breathing technique.
Just sit calm for some minutes and observe your natural breathing, it slowly starts becoming calm and you may feel better.
There isn't just one simple answer to this question as everyone is different in how they manage their anxiety and inevitable panic attacks. If possible talk to someone close to you. It could be a family member or friend especially if they live with you. Sit them down and talk to them about your panic attack and let them know of grounding/breathing techniques that you are trying to use to cope with these attacks. Sometimes all it takes is a reminder to simply breathe to help you come back down from your attack. Once you get into the habit of having someone there to remind you, you may get to the point where you can remind yourself to breathe and repeat to yourself that you need to breathe. Just breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Try practicing grounding and breathing exercises at the beginning of a panic attack, or even when you're only feeling a little bit stressed out. The more you practice them when they're not essential, the more you'll remember these techniques when you actually need them.
Step one is realising you're having a panic attack, which you no doubt will have zero trouble with. After that, repeat this to yourself (or write it down somewhere you can easily access in the midst of a panic attack): "Panic is an intense for of anxiety which is a normal response to stress. Rightly or wrongly, my brain senses a threat to my health and wellbeing. These panicky feelings are uncomfortable but they will gradually subside." After that, you might find yourself calmer and able to go on with your techniques. If you're still having troubles, you might want to do something physical to burn the excess of adrenaline in your system. You might like running for a bit, or blast some music and dance to it. Or whatever else helps you! Then maybe you won't even need grounding anymore. Or maybe yes, but by this time you will probably be able to use them! Take everything one step at a time. Panic can present itself in different forms, even to the same person. The important part is to make both your mind and your body aware of your surroundings in a way that ultimately makes you feel more in control of your own responses.
what I like to do is lay down, if you can, and put my hand over my chest. I think about how my will stop aching if i just breath properly. In with the goodness through the nose and breathing all the badness through the mouth
In my personal experience, walking can help relax me in the midst of a panic attack if I am able to walk. If I am in a car or in a class room where I can not walk, I will tense up all my muscles one at a time (shoulders first, then arms, hands, neck and so on) and then release. I also like to keep a "panic attack or anxiety journal" where I can jot down where and when my panic attack begins and ends, and also how extreme it is (on scale 1-5) and what I believe triggered it. This can help you recognize what causes you to panic and you can learn which situations make it worse. Then I have a section at the end of each entry with plans for helping avoid them or relax. Hope I made sense and hope this helps.
Find a quiet place to sit where there is not a lot of disturbance, if you cannot find a quiet spot you can still do these simple exercise to help with a panic attack. It is important to understand why you are doing this and what it may do to help in a panic attack. The aim is to slow your heart rate. Breath in but focus on breathing out but while doing so remember to breath out slowly. Again breath in and allow yourself to breath out slowly and gently. This slow breathing can be done anytime and anywhere and is easy to remember.
During panic attacks, it's really difficult to start those breathing techniques. I found that it is best to practice those techniques when you aren't having a panic attack so that you can more easily incorporate them in when you are having a panic attack.
Having a physical object or sensation to help you engage in the breathing techniques is very helpful. Fidget spinners, stress balls, a small dab of something (like a handkerchief) scented with peppermint or lavender that you can put by your nose to smell. All of these items will help you "trigger" the grounding process. When you attach something physical to your habits, it's easier. Concrete gestures of squeezing a ball or sniffing a handkerchief is more immediately rewarding than telling yourself to calm down and breathe. Physical objects give us an easy first step into our pattern. So when you panic, your first thought can be: Let's start my process. First, I find my stress ball and squeeze, I take a moment to focus on how that feels. Then, I slow my breathing.
Firstly, pick one grounding/breathing techniques that you want to use. Then, you should practice the selected grounding/breathing technique when you are calm, so you'll be more likely to be able to do the technique when you need to do it the most (midst of a panic attack). If your panic attack is still bad, try another grounding/breathing technique.
What I have tried that works best for me, is practicing them when I am not in the middle of a panic attack, so when I start to feel one come on or am in the midst of one I will be more likely to use them!
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