How to Deal With an Anxiety Attack When You're at School

By: Rawan Khalil

Our body’s fight-or-flight response tries to aid us so we can control and handle dangerous situations, so our glands would secrete hormones into our bloodstream. This is a perfectly natural response and helps us survive. How you react emotionally and physically during those fight-or-flight situations is known as panic. Some of us tend to experience this panic in situations where we are not in immediate threat in the form of panic/anxiety attacks which tend to be hard to control.

Sometimes, these panic attacks happen in the comfort of our own homes or school where we are surrounded by multiple people and it’s a lot more difficult because it results in questions. So, this is a-it-might-help-you-guide to getting panic attacks in school based on some research that I did. These may or may not work for you so try your luck or if you know something that works for you stick to it.

Before I start I will quickly list the symptoms used to identify panic attacks because you will need to be able to identify and be familiar with them yourself. Panic attacks are accompanied by:

  • Sense of impending doom or danger
  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Rapid, pounding heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • A feeling of unreality or detachment

Now, that we know the symptoms the question remains how do we deal with them? 

Firstly, you will need to identify your triggers and even though you may not be able to eliminate them, your awareness alone will help you be more in control so that you can prevent a possible panic attack. Let’s say for example maths makes you anxious because you can’t cope with the difficulty level or the workload is too much in class- you can then speak to your teacher before lessons so they can help you in case it gets too much by letting you out of class for a minute to breathe. Or, you can take a stress ball with you to class. 

On the same note of being in control, if you do get the panic attack it’s best to try to control your breathing pattern by slowing it down and taking deep breaths. If you get frequent panic attacks you can try doing some breathing exercises at home so you can regain control quickly. Simultaneously, you can also try to get out of the moment by thinking of something that comforts and relaxes you whether it be beautiful scenery or a soothing song. In other words, close your eyes, control your breathing and think of something nice.

Another great technique, and possibly the best one I have tried is grounding yourself by connecting yourself to your five senses. Try to think of:

  • three things you can see
  • three things you can hear
  • touch three things around you and think of what do they feel like
  • are you eating, chewing gum, what does your breath taste like?
  • can you smell anything 

When you ground yourself you will become less overwhelmed and more in control, it’s almost as if you are simplifying the situation and reminding your body that you’re safe.

Another thing you can try is carry around something that you can do if you feel overwhelmed like a colouring book, or possibly a notebook where you can jot things down which will calm your body like song lyrics or poems or just your thoughts.

I would say try to find a member of staff which you trust and possibly talk to them, or tell a friend so that they can look out for you and help you if you cannot help yourself. 

I hope this helps you at all.

love, 

Rawan

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