Why is this information very important?
It is very important to know this information because when you are in the midst of a panic attack, everything shuts down. You don’t know what to do and it is extremely scary. This information is very important for you to move through from that panic attack with as much grace and ease as possible.
Anxiety Attacks vs. Panic Attacks
When you’re having an anxiety attack, you’re having this because you’re anticipating an event that you’re worried about or feeling stressed about. There is an actual event and anxiety attack that responds to something possibly coming up in the future. It can be a big presentation, something that’s coming at work or you have an important discussion with your spouse. These can provoke anxious emotions and perhaps even an attack.
Panic attack, on the other hand, comes from nowhere. When that happens, it can be extremely frightening. A lot of people think that they are going to die especially when you have it the first time. With a panic attack, you don’t know what’s going on. It comes right out of nowhere and it can be extremely scary.
3 Best Ways To Diffuse a Panic Attack
#1 – Check in with your breathing
The first thing that’s important to do when you have a panic or anxiety attack is to check in with your breathing. Most often, our body is sitting in what is called the sympathetic nervous system. This is the nervous system that’s responsible for your fight, flight, or freeze response. What you want to do with your breathing when you are in the midst of a panic attack is you want to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. This is the nervous system responsible for rest and digestion. One of the best ways that you can do this is by altering your breathing pattern. Trying the breathing pattern when you are not in the middle of a panic attack is the best way to practice. To activate your parasympathetic nervous system, you need to extend your exhalation. Extending your exhalation, naturally gives the body a clue or signal that it’s time to slow down and relax. The way you do this is by breathing into the count of four, holding it for a moment, and then breathing out to the count of eight. As you do this breathing pattern, you should be able to feel, even in your shoulders and your upper body that things begin to slow down.
#2 – Check in with your thinking
Oftentimes, when you are in the middle of a panic attack, especially if it’s your first time, you start to freak out. You freak out because you think it’s very uncomfortable and it’s never going to end. You may want to check in with your thoughts because it’s important not to be thinking to yourself that you’re going to die. As much as it is counterintuitive, what we recommend you to begin to do is repeat some mantras that you come up with when you are not in a panic attack. You can say something as simple as, “I’m having a panic attack and this will pass”. Repeat this to yourself over and over again. Another mantra that you can say is, “I allowed my body to move through this experience and let it go”. We also suggest you write down your own mantra that you feel will help soothe you at the moment you have a panic attack. Write any mantra that can take you out of the immense panic that really has no source so that you can understand and start talking to yourself to calm down a little bit.
#3 – Find the acupressure points
When you start feeling those rapid heart palpitations, try to locate the vein on the side of your neck and exert a little bit of pressure on it to stop your heart palpitations. Another thing that you can try is acupressure points. Acupressure was developed 5000 years ago as part of Chinese medicine and it runs on the same principle as acupuncture because it uses the same meridians in the body. Chinese medicine has energy meridians that run through the body that affect all of our organs, emotions, and spirit; and acupressure runs in conjunction with these meridians and specific points.
- Pericardium 6 – is very easy to find. It is the same acupressure point that they use for motion sickness and this is ideal for people with anxiety as well. If you ever see those people with wrist bands or sea bands that people choose to wear sometimes instead of using some patches, this is the same point use for that. To find the Pericardium 6, along the main crease at the bottom of your hand, place your 3 middle fingers down from the crease, and where the 3rd finger lands, there is an acupressure point. Two main tendons run from your hand down your forearm and the point sits right between the two tendons. What you can do is exert a little bit of pressure on this point and hold it for 2-3 minutes and this should help diminish your panic and help you feel more relaxed. You might have a desire to massage it, but all you need to do is just add pressure on the spot.
- Heart 7 – the Chinese translation for Heart 7 is Shen Men. Heart 7 is also commonly known as “spirit gate” and this is one of the most common acupressure points. To find the Heart 7, along the crease under your hand, you can find the tendon on the extreme side that goes right up to your pinkie finger. There is a point inside that tendon that you can push up towards your palm. Hold that spot for 2-3 minutes and it will help calm your body down.
Shyloe Fayad is Okanagan-based and the CEO & Primary Wonderer at Radical Wondering Collective. She is also the founder of “Happiness Habits by Shyloe”, which is a unique and actionable system that helps you reduce stress, depression, and anxiety so you can live the best life that you always wanted to live. In this article, she discusses the difference between anxiety and panic attacks. She also discusses the 3 best ways to help you overcome a panic attack.