Panic attacks can be terrifying. When we are panicking, we might alternate between intense feelings of fear, sadness and shame. We might experience suicidal thoughts and feel so afraid we feel like we can’t go on living. We may feel like we’re losing our minds or like we’re having a heart attack. When we panic, it is usually because we have unresolved fears that are deeply rooted and that have been triggered in some way.
During a panic attack, we might shake or tremble. We might pace back and forth or walk in circles. Our heart rate accelerates, our breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and we have a hard time taking deep breaths. We might be unable to think clearly or rationally. We might be unable to talk. We might find ourselves unable to stop crying. All of these symptoms can be terrifying, and we can feel like the panic attack will never end, like we’ll always be in this painful state.
If you find yourself having a panic attack, try to take deep breaths. Breathing exercises can be very helpful and can help you regain control of your thoughts. One yogic breathing technique is alternate nostril breathing, where you close one nostril and breathe out of the other, then alternate. Another breathing exercise is 1:2 breathing, where you exhale for twice as long as your inhale. Both of these have can powerfully calming effects.
Another helpful technique during a panic attack is to write what is sometimes called a panic journal. The process of writing everything that is troubling you can be calming, soothing and therapeutic. Write down anything that comes to mind. You can free write, meaning it doesn’t need to be in full sentences or grammatically correct. Just let it all out. You might feel a huge sense of relief as you release all the pent-up panic within you.
It is very important during a panic attack to get support if possible. Isolating ourselves and being alone can make the panic worse. We can become mired in our own thinking, which can often be irrational when we are panicking. Having someone else there with us to help bring us back to objective, rational thinking can help us to calm us down. If you find yourself having a panic attack and you’re alone, call a loved one or a support hotline.
Working through difficult emotions is an important part of recovery. Let the community at Vista Taos offer its support. Call (575) 586-5078.