Anyone can experience a panic attack and whilst to some it may be a new experience it can also be a very common reoccurrence to others, especially those suffering from anxiety and stress.

Having a panic attack will make you feel very out of control both mentally and physically. The best way to regain control is to practice and know what steps to take during an attack.

1. Recognising a panic attack.

The symptoms can start in many ways so it’s important to note what to look out for to begin with. Symptoms can include: sweating, nausea, shaking, heart palpitations, feeling faint/dizzy, chest pains, and most commonly a sensation of choking or not being able to breathe.

2. Breathing is the reaction that is most commonly hardest to control. Practice and recognize when your breathing does not feel right. Slowing your breathing will help to control a rapid heart rate. Firstly, start by breathing in for 3 seconds. Hold the breath for 2 seconds and then breathe out for 3 seconds. Focus on this as much as possible to help calm the body’s physical reaction.

3.Talk to yourself – Just as if you were comforting someone else, be kind to yourself. Say out loud or just in your mind positive reinforcements and keep reassuring yourself. ‘This will pass’, ‘I am strong’, ‘I will handle this’, ‘Soon this will end’, ‘I will beat this’ – This will stop negative intrusive thoughts from taking over. Even if you do not believe them at the time it’s important to remind yourself that this WILL pass.

4. If you find yourself experiencing panic attacks more frequently try to keep track of what is triggering them and how often. It’s important to look after yourself and noticing what is causing distress can be key to lessening them. Although we cannot change everything in our life that be the trigger, we can prepare ourselves and set boundaries that may assist with keeping them at bay.

5. Overwhelming thoughts can often be the cause of a panic attack. If you are beginning to feel like your mind is filled with thoughts like racing traffic with too many cars on the road then it’s time to slow down and organize. Writing thoughts down or speaking with a friend will give these thoughts a new place to be for a while. If you write down all your worries and stress you can see them more clearly than an overwhelming scramble in your mind and they will be easier to process.

If you are still struggling it’s always best to also let your doctor know you are having troubles. They may be able to provide additional support.