Sorry I haven't posted anything recently, I was on holiday in Italy, there will be a separate post about that. The response on my last post was amazing, so thank you so much. :)
Something like this was requested, so here I am on a Saturday night in my front room writing about anxiety, once again.
If you want to know more about panic attacks and anxiety attacks and what they feel like then Click Here.
There are many ways to help yourself during or before a panic attack, when you start to feel the feeling on anxiety crawling up your body, then that's probably the right time to try a few of these things to prevent one:
1. Control your breathing - It's important to breathe during or before a panic attack even more than any other time. Your body breathes naturally so you don't normally concentrate on it much, but it's common to hyperventilate during a panic attack, so concentrating on your breathing just before can make a HUGE difference. Try taking deep breaths in through your nose and hold it for as long as you can, then out through your mouth, this helps with the feeling that you can't breathe. I always say that things are cliché for a reason, and controlling your breathing throughout is definitely one of those things. By doing so you're helping your heart rate return to normal, helping to lower your blood pressure and re-establish a feeling of being in control.
2. Use your senses - This was once recommended by a friend of mine who is clinically diagnosed with anxiety disorder, try closing your eyes and visualising something that you find calming and relaxing, for me it's beaches at night or watching sunsets or the countryside. Take that scene and adapt to it. You can see it, so think about what you'd smell (fish and chips, cow dung, the smell of rain etc), what you'd hear (birds chirping, waves crashing, etc), what you'd feel or the sense of touch (warm sand, grass, flowers etc). Just focus on your senses and a relaxing scene, you can even use headphones with nature sounds or rain sounds if it helps.
3. Focus your mind - Sometimes you find it difficult to focus on anything but the fact that you're panicking and that can make you feel useless and as if you can't do anything about it. If you focus your mind into doing something productive you eventually forget about the panic attack and it kind of fades away, try reading, writing, painting or drawing, stretching, meditation, going on a walk etc. or just anything that seems productive to you.
Trying to help someone with anxiety or someone that's having a panic attack is completely different to them trying to prevent one. There are a couple things that you should definitely NOT do while someone is going through a panic attack:
1. Ask if they're okay - No. They're not okay. I can't count how many times people have asked me this question. We understand that if you ask this you mean well and that you're just trying to help, but, depending on the person, asking this can actually make them worse, because it makes them realise that people are watching and that there's no escape.
2. React negatively - Once I had a panic attack in my music class, that class was small, and so they all knew I have anxiety, but yet when I had a panic attack two or three reacted the same way. Loudly, so that I could hear them, they asked: "OhmyGod is she crying?" "OhmyGod, is she okay?" Bearing in mind that I had told them multiple times to NOT do exactly what they were doing.
3. Tell them to 'calm down' - I think this has only happened once or twice to me, but this is like number one, except worse I'm guessing. I don't have much of my own opinion on this one however Scott Bea, a clinical psychologist, has quoted to HuffPost Healthy Living that "Anxiety can be like quicksand - the more you do to try to diffuse the situation immediately, the deeper you sink. By telling people things like 'stay calm,' they can actually increase their sense of panic."
If you have a friend or family member that has anxiety and/or panic disorder, then try these things to help with a panic attack:
1. Move them to a quiet or calm place - If they're sitting in class having a panic attack don't be one of those people that sit and stare and mumble and gossip about it, lead them outside into fresh air, or a less busy place that's quiet and calm.
2. Breathe with them - If the person seems to be hyperventilating then tell them to breathe in and out and do it in time with them to demonstrate (see number 1 of preventing panic attacks.)
3. Give them space - Don't swamp them with hugs, they may already feel trapped or claustrophobic so this will definitely not help, make sure they have a bit of space, but don't leave them on their own, they need you.
I hope this helps some of you and answers a few questions you may of had.
If you have any questions that have not been answered then go ahead and comment, I'll be sure to reply.