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How can I calm down during a panic attack?

298 Answers
Last Updated: 12/29/2020 at 6:10pm
How can I calm down during a panic attack?
★ This question about Panic Attacks was starred by a moderator on 5/12/2016.
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Lindsay Scheinerman, MA, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

My work with clients is to help them recognize and build on their strengths to find solutions for the conflicts presented in their lives.

Top Rated Answers
Anonymous - Expert in Panic Attacks
June 24th, 2015 2:09pm
I will always, but always recommend calling 911, because having panic attack is a really serious thing and I myself always end up in hospital, so yeah. You can't calm down when you have panic attack, only meds can calm down. And I recommend to people to try to learn the difference between panic attack and anxiety attack. When you have panic attack you can't calm down yourself, and when you have anxiety attack you can help yourself.
Anonymous - Expert in Panic Attacks
June 26th, 2015 10:26pm
During a panic attack breathing is the most important thing. What exactly is causing your panic and why?
June 25th, 2015 8:14am
I find that the best tactic for tackling a panic attack is not to fight it. In my experience, the worst panic attacks I've faced were the ones during which I kept telling myself to "calm down." The panic attack is scary enough without you beating yourself up over it while it's happening. I find that a very effective way of dealing with the anxiety is to retire to a quiet room or area, even if the best I can manage is a bathroom stall. I allow myself to feel the worry, I give myself permission to be afraid. I tell myself that it will not be permanent, that it will pass, that everything is going to be okay. I breathe through it, and keep telling myself to breathe, to let the fear pass over and through me, and that everything will be okay.
December 10th, 2014 9:57am
There are several different ways. One popular way are deep diaphragmatic breathing. Which consists of expansion of the abdomen rather than the chest when breathing. There are also different time amounts of breathing such as: the 4-8-7. You inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 8 seconds, and exhale for 7 seconds. There's also: Try slowly inhaling to a count of 4, filling your belly first and then your chest, gently holding your breath to a count of 4, and slowly exhaling to a count of 4 and repeat several times. There are also distractions like: Drawing little squares on your leg with your finger. Small at first then bigger. Breathing in while drawing up and down and breathing out while drawing left and right.
June 19th, 2015 5:45pm
A panic attack is a hell of an experience - literally. In my case, outter help - like other people telling me to calm down and that everything is okay - didn't do much help. I've had one "big" attack in my life, that was my first and the most powerful one. Later on, though, I experienced "smaller", less-horrifiing attacks (same sypthoms, but not so strong and didn't last long (usually about 20 minutes, my first panic attack lasted 3 hours and I've had after-effects for about 3 months...)). Panic attack works differently in every people experiencing it. If you've had some attacks before, you probably know the sypthoms "telling you" that an attack is on the way. In this state, it's important to find something that helps you relax - taking long, deep breaths (it also helps to maintain a calm heartrate), walking, getting some fresh air, drinking a tea, meditating, whatever helps. If the attack itself did happen, it is hard to focus on these calming things because of the flight-or-fight drive. Find a situation or place you feel confortable in - tell your parents/co-workers/friends that you need some help, if you need outter help, or find a place you can feel at ease alone - like a tea-kitchen at work, for example. Take long, deep breaths, and don't try to fight the drive - don't try to shoo the feeling away. It will wash through you, it's an overwhelming experience, but I found fighting it making it much worse. It'll stop in a few minutes. Keep on taking deep breaths, if it happens at work, try to take small breaks - just a few minutes - to relax. Find some music. Something that makes you feel better, that helps you relax in tense situation (even cat videos can help... really, anything that fits you). The attack itself should completely end within an hour at most. The two things you shouldn't do: don't fight the attack, and don't be afraid of experiencing a panic attack. If you already had one, the fear itself from happening can trigger another. These steps are hard to take alone, and if you just had your very first, or few attacks, I think you definently should ask the help of a professional. Panic attacks can occour from emotional (overwhelming stress) or neurological source, and if it calms you, you should definently have it checked out.
July 29th, 2015 9:04am
Find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. This is called Grounding. It can help when you feel like you've lost control of your surroundings!!
June 24th, 2015 10:34pm
First of all try to take deep breaths and slowly step by step feel relaxed. Also, try to make positive and nice thoughts and the most important.... speak to yourself. Convince yourself that nothing bad is going to happen. Trust yourself and be the best friend of you.
July 1st, 2015 5:14pm
At first stay focused , tell take a deep breath and exhale , beware of your surroundings and try not to overreact.
December 17th, 2014 6:17pm
I lay down and close my eyes. I also slow my breathing and empty my mind of all negative thoughts. As I feel calmer, I take long, deep breaths. I slowly think about whats bothering me and get to the root of it so I can see how small it is! :)
January 4th, 2015 10:38am
Try to think to yourself about why you're feeling anxious. Most of the time, there is no actual harm being threatened- and no reason to panic :) also, you can try to focus ONLY on your breathing. Get it to slow down, and try to breathe deeply. Use your abdomen!
June 30th, 2015 2:42am
Firstly, I always start by internally telling myself that I am experiencing strong anxiety and a panic attack...nothing life-threatening that I need to worry about. It helps to accept the oncoming attack; almost watching it hit from a neutral perspective instead of feeding into it and working myself deeper into panic. Next, I think that distraction is key. Distracting myself almost never fails! Whether it be calling someone, listening to music, counting backwards from 100 in 3s, or focusing on an object I am holding. Next, it can be really helpful to take some slow, deep, diaphragmatic (into your belly) breaths. I like to do the "thirds" breathing exercise-- You imagine your lungs are divided into 3 parts; the top, the middle and the bottom (closest to your belly button). Start to inhale into the bottom 1/3, then the middle 1/3, and lastly top off your lungs with a breath into the top 1/3. (This should be done as smoothly as possible...not in separate pieces, if that makes sense.) Then exhale from top to bottom. I do this a few times and really focus on slowing my breath down and relaxing every muscle in my body, as best I can. It can be really hard sometimes to relax ourselves! Sometimes, medications from a doctor can work wonders if nothing else is helping to give you relief and make you comfortable.
August 13th, 2015 9:28am
It requires planning. This planning is very similar to packing your luggage on a long trip. Firstly realize that the human stress response hormones have an impact time of 90 sec. If you can sustain for that time and not engage in panic, you are free. So you are planning to relax in the first 90 seconds. Now what should you plan. Ideas will come to you in times mostly after you get out of the attack. I can give you some seeds. Record your own voice, tell yourself to calm down and get over the 90 seconds. Secondly see that if you can get hold of a bad/shopper, try breating into that. it reduces oxygen in your body calming you down. It is very effective. Keep paper bags in reach. You have full right to enjoy life. Be ready to pass through its ups and downs. Love
June 18th, 2015 7:48pm
Breathe. I know it's hard to breathe during a panic attack. Sit or lay down and try to clear your head. I know it sounds silly, but find a happy place. Keep telling yourself that you'll be okay. If you need to be alone, then go get some space to yourself. If you like having people around you then only be with people you're close with and they know how to comfort you.
June 27th, 2015 11:01pm
Breathe. That is the best way to relieve your body of the stress it is going through during a panic attack.
July 1st, 2015 7:33am
When i had my panic attacks, I listened to music, look at random funny pictures, played a game on my phone, texted my mom. I did everything that I could to get my mind off of how I was feeling at the moment, and it helped.
June 20th, 2015 9:16pm
Calming down during a panic attack can be quite challenging given you're in the midst of an emotional/physical tornado! But, I've found these four steps to be helpful: 1. Sit in a comfortable semi-upright position (for example, in bed with pillows behind you). 2. Practice deep breathing (if you are hyperventilating, try breathing into a pillow or paper sack until your breathing normalizes). 3. Do NOT "fight" the panic attack ( other words, just let it happen knowing that IT WILL PASS). 4. Sip on some cold water to help calm your nerves. Finally, if you're experiencing panic attacks on a frequent basis then realize you need to seek medical/psychiatric help. Many prescription medications can calm or eliminate panic attacks. Most importantly, if you feel like you are in physical danger during a panic attack call 911 or your local police department immediately!
February 28th, 2018 5:48pm
You just have to realize that the feeling will pass. Take deep breaths and focus on your breathing. If possible find a private place where you can pace around if need be and just let all of your anxiety out. When the anxiety attack passes it is the best feeling. You just gotta focus on getting through it.
June 26th, 2015 6:36pm
I usually find someone I trust to talk to. Try to breathe deeply and concentrate on talking out how you feel. Putting things into words is helpful.
May 21st, 2015 5:12pm
Breathing is the best and easiest way to help. A technique I use is the 4x4 method. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it 4 seconds, release for 4 seconds, repeat 4 times.
June 21st, 2015 9:26pm
During a panic attack, everything is happening in fast-motion and slow-motion at the same time and it can be difficult to calm down. The easiest way is to concentrate on your breathing. Pretend you need to blow out birthday candles - a deep, slow breath from your belly and a long exhale. Towards the end of the panic attack, when I feel myself calming down, I also like to exercise if possible. I'll go on a run and use up all the extra adrenaline and energy, so I don't get another panic attack right after the last one. Sometimes talking to other people help; if there is a supportive person in your life, call them or talk to them and rant/sob/cry to them.
June 25th, 2015 1:31am
breathing exercises help immensely. I know from experience. try the 4-7-8 technique for starters.
June 19th, 2015 1:07am
Panic attacks can be incredibly frightening because your body is going through so many physical symptoms. Reminding yourself that the bad feeling won't last and these attacks can't hurt you might help you relax.
December 24th, 2014 9:17pm
Whenever I struggle to calm down, I turn on (a website that plays non-stop rain sounds), get under my covers, and focus on my breathing until I can control it.
December 27th, 2014 10:45pm
Do your best to remember the techniques and exercises that you have learned. There's many out there, find one that works for you and invest your time in practicing it.
June 20th, 2015 4:37pm
Remove yourself from the situation and just sit down somewhere safe and have a drink of water if you need to. Try and control your breathing by taking big breaths in and slowly releasing them. This will eventually bring your anxiety down.
July 4th, 2015 5:04pm
First, relax your shoulders and become conscious of any tension that you may be feeling in your muscles. Then, with gentle reassurance, progressively tense and relax all the large muscle groups. Tighten your left leg while taking a deep breath in, for example, hold it, then release the leg muscles and the breath. Move on to the other leg. Move up the body, one muscle group at a time. Slow down your breathing. This may best be done by blowing out every breath through pursed lips as if blowing out a candle. Also, place your hands on your stomach to feel the rapidity of your breathing. This may allow you to further control your symptoms.
August 9th, 2015 3:28am
For me it helps to go into a quite room on my own and listen to music quietly it also helps to take sips of water and concentrate on the length of my breathes and my chest rising up and down. Also keep saying over and over in your head 'I'm okay'
December 14th, 2014 9:12pm
This is a great question. The first step is realizing that it is indeed only a panic attack and there is no real danger. Diaphragmatic breathing and deep muscle relaxation exercises can work wonders in the midst of a panic attack. If you find these aren't helping or that you can't calm down enough to get these going it might be time to consult a doctor about some different anxiety medications such as Xanax (if it is particularly bad), or Klonopin (long lasting.) These are in a class of drugs called Benzodiazepines which affect the central nervous system. Be careful though, because these do have addictive properties and can have awful withdrawal symptoms. Benzo's should never be used as a long term solution to panic attacks and should be used in conjunction with the deep breathing/muscle relaxation techniques.
June 18th, 2015 10:19pm
The best way is to stop it at source. As soon as you feel panic coming on, use a distraction technique, or focus your mind on something else.
June 20th, 2015 7:22am
I like to focus on one thing whether it be my breathing, the tick tock of a clock, etc. It helps a lot.