Panics attacks are debilitating, and unless you’ve had one you couldn’t possibly understand just how bad they are. I have been getting them for the last 10 years now, and I honestly wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. They are the closest thing to feeling like you’re dying. The amount of times I was convinced I was taking my last breath is ridiculous.
They aren’t always just hyperventilating and rocking back and forth. They are also –
- numbness and tingling in arms, legs, face (due to the blood rushing away from your extremities, (because your body think there’s a threat) to your more important areas, like your organs)
- arms sometimes contort and contract and turn in towards your body (a subconscious action to “protect” your vital organs)
- rapid heartbeat
- sweaty palms
- irrational thoughts
- random bursts of irritability
- obsessive behaviour and nit picking
- pacing back and forth
Always look out for these signs with your friends and family.
The thing with panic attacks is that when they’re over, they’re not really over at all. They stay with you and affect things you do and places you go in the future. To give you an example, my first really bad panic attack happened when I was a passenger in a car. At the time, I didn’t know I was having one and I thought I was having a stroke because of the tingling in my arms and face, I started to hyperventilate, sweaty hands, the whole lot. I couldn’t feel my body, I didn’t feel real, I thought this was it…I’m going to die in this stupid car.
Of course, I didn’t but that experience stayed with me. Cars became my trigger for my panic attacks and I’ve had countless attacks in cars since. I realised, after talking to my doctor, that what had happened about 15 minutes before the attack was more than likely the cause. The car I was in slid on ice, and missed the wall by a fraction. I had a delayed reaction to it that led to the panic attack. I was also hungover!!! My attacks were so much worse after a feed of drink. Since the day I gave up drinking, almost two years ago, my attacks have decreased dramatically! Alcohol played a huge part in worsening my anxiety and I’m delighted it’s out of my life!
Some of the techniques I find helpful in dealing with panic attacks as they happen are…
- Deep breathing. Slowly. In through your nose and out through your mouth.
- A grounding technique I learned. Look around you and name something you can touch, see, feel, hear, taste and smell. This gives your brain something else to focus on.
- Splashing cold water on your wrists. This helps slow your pulse. Splashing water on the back of your neck or on your face can reduce the affects of adrenaline.
- Remind yourself that this is an attack and it will eventually pass. This feeling won’t last forever.
Some lifestyle tips that can help reduce the amount you have…
- Reduce alcohol intake or cut it out of your life altogether.
- Reduce the amount of caffeine you consume.
- Practice guided meditation. There’s loads to choose from on Spotify.
- Try yoga…it helped me massively. I love House of Yoga Waterford.
- Exercise regularly…even a brisk walk for 30 minutes daily can help burn off excess adrenaline and flood your body with happy hormones.
- Regular massage can help with stress and anxiety levels, which often leads to panic attacks.
- Mind your body…Eat well…Sleep well.
Give yourself a break from time to time.
Be gentle with yourself.
You’re doing the best you can.
I hope tonight’s post helped some of you. If there is something that worked for you that I didn’t mention, please do let me know. It’s important to try not let panic attacks dictate your life. If you feel like you can’t cope with them on your own please talk to your doctor. There is zero shame. More people suffer with them than you think. Don’t be afraid to reach out and if you feel like you have nobody to reach out to, you can always contact me through any of the ways below.
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