How to Deal With a Panic Attack When You’re Alone

By: Hanna Haitham

Panic attacks are very common with people who have experienced trauma and you can never expect them. You can be out with friends or on your own; there really isn’t a fixed time for it, the only constant thing is the trigger. A panic attack is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, you may have certain trauma you are suppressing or emotional issues you are not dealing with. I will mention steps that are helpful in dealing with a panic attack, but on the long run after the attack has passed, you need to find the trigger and/or see a therapist.

Some people can easily find their trigger; maybe it’s a common person, place, sentence, action, etc. For others it could seem random, so the thing I’ve found most helpful is to write down when you face these attacks and start finding common factors, as it could be anything. If you are then at a loss I suggest having a session with a therapist, actually, I suggest going to therapy if you experience anxiety to begin with.

TECHNIQUES

  • GROUNDING:

 Grounding techniques are the most common way to deal with panic attacks and the most famous one is the 54321 method. This is how it goes, for example you get a panic attack while you are alone in your room, what you do is find:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

By the time you are done pointing these out to yourself you will find that your attention has shifted and that the attack has passed.

  • AWARE:

This is sort of a 5 step process to deal with a panic attack where each letter for the word “aware” stands for an action:

  • A: Acknowledge and accept, you need to recognize that you are having a panic attack
  • W: Wait, you need to breathe deeply and know that this attack is temporary and won’t last
  • A: Actions, just do anything that can make you snap out of it like deep breathing, dancing, washing your face, sucking on an ice cube, etc
  • R: Repeat, if you find that the action has not helped you get over this attack just redo the steps while substituting the action
  • E: End, panic attacks always end and you need to remind yourself of that
  • DEEP BREATHING:

Breathing techniques really affect your anxiety because when you’re anxious your body enters fight or flight mode, which makes your breathing quicker. While you are breathing so quickly your body doesn’t have a chance to properly inhale so you are just rebreathing the CO2 you just exhaled, all of that  puts your body in a state of panic so here are several techniques:

  • Abdomen breathing: look this up on google, this technique of breathing is very easy and helps reduce the work your body does to breathe 
  • Breath focus: just focus on your breath while you are inhaling and exhaling, focus on the tension you have in your body and let it ease. Try and visualize words while you are exhaling, words like safe or calm.
  • Equal breathing: Breathe in for the same amount of seconds you breath out slowly count 1 2 3 4 on each inhale and exhale. 
  •  MEDITATION:

Try incorporating meditation in your daily routine, it doesn’t have to be long just 5-15 minutes. You can choose guided meditation (someone is talking in the recordings) or just very slow music to clear your thoughts. If you do this frequently, you can let your body recall this state of relaxation when you are going through a panic attack, and it honestly helps.

Just keep in mind, not everything works for everyone, as we’re all different, but these are the most common methods of dealing with a panic attack.

Please, if you feel like all of this isn’t that helpful or that you can’t find your trigger I would urge you to contact a therapist. It won’t be long term if your case isn’t serious just a few sessions to help you feel that you are in control of your body. You shouldn’t be ashamed of being anxious, at all.

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