4 Ways to Curb a Panic Attack

4 Ways to Curb a Panic Attack

A Meditation on Anxious Emotions

How to Curb a Panic Attack

1)  Investigate
When I am in the grip of a particular fear, worry or anxiety, I ask myself two questions:

  • Is it really true? I try to remember that my thoughts aren’t facts, and that they are transient. They are like the weather, passing through and changing all the time, so I don’t have to take them so seriously, or become attached to them.
  • Am I ok right now? Often my anxiety has to do with worry about the future, so it’s helpful to deliberately focus on what’s happening right now, in the present.

2) Shift into taking deep, relaxed breaths
When I am caught up in a swirl of anxious thoughts, I’ll switch my attention to something physical, like deep relaxing breaths, shifting myself out of the mental loop that perpetuates the anxious feelings and calming my nerves. For a few minutes focus on taking deep, calming breaths. Intentionally breathe slowly and deeply into your belly as you expand your lungs. Then without any effort, exhale naturally. Many people feel relief from anxiety after just a few minutes.

3) Connect to the senses

To create some distance from anxious, repetitive thoughts I’ll bring my attention to each of the senses, grounding myself in the present. Wherever you are, take a few, slow, deep breaths, and focus your awareness on your surroundings. Look around, and take notice of what you see. Just observe the variety of colors, shapes and textures of what you see, without necessarily forming an opinion. Then focus your awareness on sound. As you listen, notice what you hear in your environment.

4) Visualize the release of anxious feelings as a cloud floating away in the sky
Take a moment to pause. Feel the weight of your body and your feet firmly rooted to the ground. See if you can find where the sensation of anxiety is located in your body, such as in your stomach, chest, or head. Slowly and gently allow yourself to feel the sensation there. Then imagine that the uneasy sensation of anxiety has gathered in that location in the form of a dark cloud. Picture it all puffy and grey.

Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, imagine that the dark cloud is expelled from your body with your outgoing breath. See the dark cloud hanging in front of you a couple of feet away, and then watch as the cloud floats away slowly like a balloon. Keep watching the dark cloud float away until it completely disappears.

 

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