One thing that always bugged me is when people advise others to stop panic attacks by “relaxing and stopping negative thoughts”. Perhaps these people don’t truly understand, but while you’re having a panic attack, you’re overwhelmed by PHYSICAL symptoms that literally make you feel as if you’re dying or the worst thing possible is hpapening, so how are you meant to think positive when you’re experiencing something this horrifying? It’s as bad as telling someone with a stomach cramp to think positive because they’re just imagining it.
Yes, fear may not be “real” like a stomach cramp but seriously, it’s real enough for us to feel that it’s serious, and the symptoms can be as bad as any other illness and isn’t that easy to get rid of by just a couple of positive thoughts. If that worked, I would’ve gotten rid of anxiety YEARS ago.
I feel that rather than think positive, we need to figure out a way to stop these SYMPTOMS. I’ve noticed that this helps me A LOT and really really ends my panic attacks in minutes.
However, I have found one method that REALLY works for me in stopping a panic attack, sometimes in minutes COMPLETELY! I can’t guarantee it would do the same for you, but it’s worth giving it a shot.
Next time you feel as if you’re about to have a panic attack, do this:
Get a big basin or bowl and fill it with cold water from the fridge or tap and add about 4-5 ice cubes. When the water gets very cold, use your hands to splash a fair amount of cold water on your face, at least three times.
Explanation: When we have a panic attack, our bodies are preparing us for the fight or flight response, which causes our adrenaline to kick in and forces our heart to be racing super fast. Splashing cold water on our face kicks in the “Mammalian diving response”, something which happens when cold stuff touches our face, it prepares us for be under water and slows your heart down significantly to prepare you for tolerating low oxygen levels.
Remember: WATER MUST BE COLD!! Room temperature water doesn’t work well.
Symptoms of Panic Attacks:
- Feeling a sense of terror, doom, fear and panic.
- Shortness of breath, difficult in catching your breath, hyperventilation
- Racing heart or heart palpitations
- Feeling very weak and faint all over your body
- Feeling dizzy
- You’re shaking all over
- Nausea or feeling as if you’re about to throw up – intense stomach discomfort.
- Feeling disorientated, your mind feels as if it’s lost somewhere
- You experience chest pains
- You’re feeling sweaty or having chills, kind of like being hot and cold
- Feeling as if you’ve lost control
A panic attack is often described as an exaggeration of the body’s normal response to stress and fear. Whenever we face a situation that’s dangerous, our body produces adrenalin and prepares us for that flight or fight response, which means we’re prepared to run or fight someone. However, when there’s too much of that, we get feelings of absolute terror. Experiencing this may even develop a nasty cycle of fear where you’re afraid of panic attacks which causes more panic.
How do you know you’re getting a panic attack?
This method works if you catch it in action and do it right when you feel it’s coming, otherwise it will be too late! You can usually tell by noticing the symptoms listed above. Sometimes, you may get it when you fear something badly (such as experiencing a phobia), other times it may even come without any warning or reason, such as you’re in a movie theatre and BAM, it’s there. Sometimes, all these can jump together and make you literally feel as if you’re dying. It IS frightening! You may feel as if you’re frozen on the spot, you can’t move, can’t drive, can’t think, and it can be very dangerous.
Other tips for Panic Attacks
If you’re not in your house and can’t get access to cold water, that can be a problem. Here are some tips:
1) Always have some cold water with you. If you can’t keep it cold, then buy a themo water bottle that is able to keep it cold. Or, you can put water in the freezer and have it all icy that has a bit of water melted in the bottle. That way, it takes a while for it to melt and you’ve got cold water for a whole day. If you’ve got frozen water, then add a towel around it.
2) If you’re going by car, have a cooler on the seat next to you.
3) If you’re panicking, don’t eat. I believe eating anything will make your stomach feel a lot worse, because your blood has already gone away from your stomach, so if you eat/drink anything, you may seriously GET sick and throw up.
4) From experience, panics to do with nausea comes most often after a meal, so try not to eat until you’re too full, particularly if you are going to be in a car.
5) You might be seriously afraid of doing something that reminds you of where you had a panic attack, but rest assured, you probably won’t get it there again. Try and bring all your “survival equipment” (cold water, ginger, etc) with you and try embracing your fear.