5 Simple Techniques to Avoid Panic Attacks
Most of us experience anxiety regularly, or at least once in our lifetime. It’s a normal and adaptive feeling that tells you when you’re in danger. However, experiencing anxiety doesn’t always mean that you’re in a dangerous situation.
According to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), what you think becomes what you feel, but just because you think something doesn’t mean it’s true. Sometimes thoughts can be random and insignificant.
Often, our minds are simply running wild scenarios of “what if,” which may not have any factual basis. And when your mind is running in the wrong directions, you begin to experience fear which ultimately turns to anxiety and panic attacks. Panic attacks usually result from irrational thoughts out of proportion to reality.
The symptoms of panic attacks cannot be ignored, and if they increase over time, they may prevent you from partaking in your day-to-day activities.
To prevent your panic attacks or any anxiety from interfering with your everyday life, you need to practice some grounding exercises. Doing these exercises will reduce anxiety symptoms and prevent you from spiraling into a panic attack.
Some of the simple techniques you can engage in to keep panic attacks at bay are covered in depth below.
Take Deep Breaths
Almost all relaxation techniques involve some form of deep breathing exercise. Deep breathing will mitigate any stress or anxiety response effectively. This miraculously simple technique involves deep, slow abdominal breathing, and it has the power to calm down our whole nervous system.
One of the ways deep breaths calm us down is by stimulating the vagus nerve, which releases a variety of anti-stress enzymes that do the trick. Some of these hormones include prolactin, acetylcholine, oxytocin, and vasopressin.
There are three basic concepts around breathing techniques: resistance breathing, coherent breathing, and breath moving, but all you need to do is inhale, then count to six, and exhale, then count to six again. And don’t forget to move the breath from your chest to your diaphragm.
Consider Using CBD
CBD is a natural compound that’s found in Cannabis, and according to research, it can remedy anxiety. The human body contains several different receptors. Receptors are protein-based chemical structures attached to your cells, and they send and receive signals from various stimuli.
CBD interacts with the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors, found in the Central Nervous System and the Peripheral Nervous System. CBD stimulates the release of Serotonin—a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in maintaining your mental health. Low Serotonin is often associated with people who suffer from depression and anxiety.
Taking CBD helps fight your panic attacks and fight off anxiety, and the best part is CBD is available in various forms, such as CBD products from like CBD Oil, depending on your preference.
Splash Some Water on Your Face
If you’ve ever splashed some cold water on your face, you know how well that simple action changes your perspective—even if for a minute or so. Well, according to research, immersing your face in cold water produces physiological changes by stimulating your parasympathetic system.
The area behind the eyeballs is believed to be a powerful and easy locus of stimulation for the vagus nerve. Thus, splashing cold water on your face will stimulate your vagus nerve, bring down your heart rate and activate the digestive and immune systems.
Massage Your Scalp
According to research, a massage could help remedy anxiety by shifting your biochemistry. A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience explored how massage therapy decreases cortisol levels by as much as 31%, increases Serotonin by 28%, and dopamine by 32%.
So if you can afford it, getting a massage every time you feel anxious will do wonders for your anxiety and help you avoid panic attacks.
However, if getting a whole massage may sound like overkill to you, simply massaging your scalp will also work. Massaging your scalp is quite effective as it will improve blood circulation to your brain and reduce muscle tension at the back of your head and neck.
You can use essential oils for your massages, such as lavender or chamomile, as they can be very calming. A study from Osaka Kyoiku University found that lavender oil helped reduce mental stress and improve alertness in Japan.
Avoid Negative Thoughts
Your thinking also impacts panic, and if you often have negative thoughts, they can get out of control and cause panic attacks. Believing these unhelpful, negative thoughts is what leads to you experiencing panic attacks.
Therefore, it’s important to remember that they are just thoughts, not reality or necessarily facts. You can avoid any negative thoughts by becoming aware of the common patterns that lead to them. Spotting the triggers can help you avoid the unpleasant experiences that follow.
You can also engage in mindful thinking, journaling, or yoga to keep yourself in a positive headspace.
Challenge unhelpful thoughts
The way we think about things has an impact on panic. Many of these thoughts are out of our control and can be negative and unhelpful. It is therefore important to remember that they are just thoughts and are not necessarily facts. Even though we may believe a lot of the unhelpful thoughts during a panic attack, these thoughts should be challenged as they are often based on incorrect assumptions. For example, misinterpreting the physical changes in the body during panic as “I’m having a heart attack”. To challenge and answer this negative thought, you would ask: what could you have said to yourself that would have helped?
Becoming aware of the common patterns that unhelpful thoughts follow can help you recognise that you have them. Keeping a diary of what happens each time you panic can help you to spot patterns in what triggers these experiences for you, so that you can think about how to deal with these situations in the future.
If you find yourself experiencing stress and anxiety constantly or get panic attacks more than often, you may have a panic disorder. Panic attacks are sudden and out of the blue. At first, they may seem unbearable, but specific triggers lead to these attacks. If you can spot these triggers and deal with them using the techniques discussed above, you can easily dodge your next panic attack.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.