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Overcoming Fear

How To Manage A Panic Attack

Author: NeuroGym Team | 2022

How do you manage a panic attack when it strikes?

They happen out of the blue and can be frightening. It’s something you don’t want to happen, but you can’t determine the timing.

You need a strategy to cope with panic attacks, but that strategy has to be well-known to you before the panic sets in. At that moment, you won’t know what to do.

Here’s how to spot a panic attack and prime your brain to react in beneficial ways.

Panic Attack Symptoms

If you’ve had a panic attack before, then you may have some idea of the associated symptoms. The problem is that panic attacks occur suddenly, so you might not notice any symptoms until they appear.

The most important thing to know is that these symptoms are uncomfortable, but you are not in any danger. You are safe.

What to Look Out For

Doctors agree that panic attacks occur when you have at least four of the following symptoms:

  • Sudden, extreme anxiety
  • Chest pain 
  • A fast heart rate or heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches 
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Nausea 
  • Numbness in your hands
  • Feelings of impending danger
  • Sweating or chills
  • Stomach cramps
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling like you are losing control or going crazy
  • Struggling to maintain a sense of reality

These are only the most prominent symptoms. Each person will experience a panic attack in their own way.

Possibly, you could get to know the kind of symptoms that may appear when you are having a panic attack which allows you to react faster.

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Panic Disorder

Some people find the experience of panic attacks utterly alarming, especially if they recur periodically.

It causes fear of panic attacks—something that medical professionals call panic disorder.

It is characterized by: 

  • Persistent worry that you could have another panic attack
  • An obsession that you will lose control during an attack
  • Changing your daily behaviors to avoid anything that could trigger a panic attack

When you are fearful, avoiding triggers, and obsessing about something that might happen, it brings about symptoms of anxiety. The only way to overcome this issue is through dealing with anxiety.

If you don’t the anxiety will linger and, quite possibly, result in another panic attack.

The Aftermath

Even though symptoms subside after a panic attack, you can still feel overwhelmed. You might even become fearful that you will experience another attack, but you can’t let that stop you.

Find out how to Win the Game of Fear in all areas of your life by attending our remarkable brain training.

Why Do I Need to Manage Panic Attacks?

Your overriding emotions and mental state affect how you go about your day.

If you are optimistic, you do everything in your power to achieve your goals.

If you are ruled by fear, then you don’t take chances or reach for your dreams.

An Act of Self-Preservation

Fear is a normal response to stimuli that your brain perceives as dangerous.

When you come face-to-face with danger (or even just think about it), your brain reacts with a flight, fight, or freeze response. It’s an act of self-preservation.

Sometimes, the fear response doesn’t have your best interests in mind. It does more harm than good. 

For example, you might have an opportunity to interview for the job of your dreams after applying to it, but a previous rejection (and panic attack) gives you such a sense of anxiety that you decide to not even attend the interview.

Realizing that self-preservation isn’t always good is important because it can help you notice when panic attacks are necessary and when they are caused by unreasonable actions in your brain.

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Addressing the Cause

A panic attack is an indication that something in your life isn’t going according to plan. You need to identify the true cause and address it so that you can move forward more productively.

Reflect on your life to figure out what could be triggering your panic attacks.

Start by considering your family history, your mental health, and any substance abuse problems. Even your diet can affect anxiety levels.

A current or past life event could also have caused the attack. Try to identify what the cause is and address that issue.

Removing Anticipatory Anxiety 

Overcoming fear doesn’t happen if you don’t address your past, present, and future.

It will always be with you if you don’t process your emotions, and that can generate new panic attacks. 

Anticipatory anxiety is stress that comes from wondering if you will have another attack. That won’t get you anywhere; it will only keep you back.

If you are able to resolve anticipatory anxiety in constructive ways like with Innercise™ and affirmations, then you gain the ability to do everything you set your mind to.

Anchor Yourself

Feeling like you are losing control is normal during a panic attack. Regaining that sense of control can help you cope with attacks. 

The best way to do this is through anchoring—to reconnect with yourself and the world around you.

Take a Breath

Breathing is something you do without noticing, but when you have a panic attack, your breathing can suffer.

It helps to become aware of your breathing during attacks, as it will help you realize that you are not dying (even though it feels that way). Breathing properly also makes you aware of your body and slows down your heart rate which recreates a sense of calm.

Breathe this way:

  1. Inhale slowly through your nose. Feel your body expanding as the air enters your body.
  2. Exhale slowly but shape your mouth as if blowing through a straw.

Repeat these steps at least six times. 

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Use Your Senses

It’s normal to feel as if you are alone in a bubble during a panic attack. Getting in touch with your surroundings by using your senses is essential to ground yourself.

Here are some ways to do it:

  • Rub your hands or feet against a tactile surface like a couch, wooden door, grass, or a fluffy rug.
  • Identify something you can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste.
  • Wrap an ice cube in a paper towel and clench it in one hand until it stings; then, switch hands.

Reconnect With Your Body

Bringing attention to different areas of your body can distract your mind and show you that you are still intact. It can also help you reduce tension.

While taking deep breaths, focus first on relaxing your feet, then your calves, your thighs, your groin, and your stomach. Then, relax your hands, forearms, upper arms, upper body, shoulders, neck, and head.

Dealing With Anxiety

Anxiety is often at the heart of panic attacks. You have to deal with it if you want to minimize the intrusion of anxiety and panic attacks in your life.

Fear and anxiety usually have a mutual connection. If you can eliminate fear, you can address anxiety.

Join us at our brain and life-changing training on Winning the Game of Fear so that you can get rid of anxiety for good.

Riding the Waves

Paying attention to your emotions during a panic attack is tough. It can feel like you are out of control and going crazy, but ignoring your emotions or trying to snap out of it won’t help.

Frequently, it’s more useful to face these emotions and ride them out like waves. A wave starts small, picks up speed, becomes large, and then crashes against the sand more and more gently. 

Emotions work the same way.

As you feel an emotion building, see it as a wave in your imagination. Feel it building but focus on the shoreline. Feel yourself going over the peak of the wave and reaching the shore gently.

Use Different Areas of Your Brain

During a panic attack, stress hormones take over your brain and make it difficult to think straight. The hormones make you emotional.

By counteracting these hormones, you quiet down rampaging emotions. The best way to do this is to use your brain for thinking tasks that it was built for.

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Talk to Your Anxiety

Try talking to your panic attack. Give it a name, like “Frank,” and say, “Hey Frank. I know you have my best interest at heart, but I need you to get back in your box.” 

You could even thank “Frank” for visiting; tell it what you want or how you want it to act. Try giving it some tips on how to help you better in the future.

Use Executive and Motor Skills

Executive function refers to thinking while motor skills focus on movement. Engaging thinking and motor skills allow you to use different areas of your brain which helps your brain to balance out.

Wash the dishes, play a card game, paint, do some stretches, or complete a word search. Other options are sweeping, saying the alphabet backward, or sorting laundry into different colors.

Overcoming Fear Is Possible

Some of us get anxious and fearful at the mere mention of certain topics. In extreme cases, it causes panic attacks, which is bad considering it’s triggered by just a thought or word.

It’s not a great way to live.

Make the choice today to Win the Game of Fear by changing your thoughts and approach to life.

About The Author

NeuroGym Team

NeuroGym Team: NeuroGym’s Team of experts consists of neuroscientists, researchers, and staff who are enthusiasts in their fields. The team is committed to making a difference in the lives of others by sharing the latest scientific findings to help you change your life by understanding and using the mindset, skill set and action set to change your brain.

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