Calming down during a panic attack is really a tough job. The common experience of every panic attack sufferer who is recovering from anxiety is that the harder he tries to calm down more intense the panic becomes. Suppressing panic attack symptoms or trying to avoid them intensifies them.
But no worries!
Now you can manage your panic attacks better because some unorthodox strategies can help you calm down fast.
First of all, understand that these coping techniques work best when you are ready to tolerate some fear and panic symptoms (of course they are not harmful and you know that right?). Not that you have to tolerate a full-blown panic attack. You will have to train yourself to tolerate anxiety with at least half the intensity of a full-blown panic attack.
1. Tighten and relax your muscles to end panic attack sensations
When you have intense anxiety or panic attack you have the sensations of muscle twitches or involuntary pulses. This induces shaking during panic attacks. As discussed earlier, the adrenaline rush makes your muscles ready for instant and intense action. Anxiety is a “fight or flight” response and the body is naturally expected to have intense action like running away or fighting the danger during “fight or flight.”
Tighten and relax your muscles impulsively with strength. This fast tightening and loosening will fulfill the purpose of these impulses from your side. This will help to reduce the movement impulses that is the sharking in panic attacks. This will help while recovering from anxiety by reducing the shaky impulses that overwhelm you during panic attacks.
2. Laugh out loud to beat that anxious arousal
This may sound weird and you might say-“how can I laugh during a panic attack?” But, I am not saying real laughter. You have to mimic the laughter that you normally have while watching a comedy show or while poking fun at one of your friends. Remember the laughter that was the most powerful one in your life and mimic it.
What happens in laughter? Your chest muscles tighten, your stomach muscles contract, you exhale forcefully and you have many jerky movements. The muscles of your face and neck also contract instantly in the laughing gesture. Mimic all the gestures of real laughter. Only with the difference that there will be no real funny thing that induces the laughter in you.
The advantages of this exercise are that it serves as a distraction and contributes in reducing adrenaline rush by activating chest, stomach, and face muscles.
3. Do any light exercise that can consume anxiety
It can be really overwhelming to exercise during a panic attack but it can really help you calm down. Light exercise will use up the accumulated extra oxygen taken up by the lungs because of fast breathing- called as hyperventilation. This will retain the normal ratio of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. Since hyperventilation sustains anxiety and panic attacks, doing a moderate physical activity can help your body to calm down.
Brisk walking, jogging, doing jumping jacks, lifting some heavy thing and then putting it down are a few examples of simple physical activities. The goal of this maneuver is to use up the extra oxygen and the energy boost that adrenaline rush creates. When the adrenaline rush ceases panic attack stops. This is the reason clinicians also recommend exercise for recovering from anxiety.
4. Hold super cool ice cubes in your hand
This is yet another simple way to deflect the mind from the anxious arousal. I used to do it and it worked for me for almost every time while recovering from anxiety! Holding a few ice cubes in one or both hands for a considerable span of time is discomforting but you can actually do that to distract yourself from anxiety. When you’ll grab and hold ice with bare hands, you will feel the strong cold sensation which will override the sensations of anxiety. The cold feeling of the ice will also comfort you to some extent as your body will be producing a lot of heat during the arousal.
Focusing on the sensation and breathing steadily will help you calm down with less discomfort. Holding it for too long will surely cause discomfort and when that happens you can just drop the ice cubes for a minute or two and grab them again.
5. Do voluntary jerky movements
This exercise relieves you on the psychological level and gradually helps in overcoming panic attacks. Have you noticed that you feel muscle twitches and small jerks during a panic attack? Yes, you have them on your face, neck, and hands, and on the belly. When you begin to panic you know you are going to have the sensations of jerks and shaking. Instead of thinking and trying to avoid or suppress them just start making jerky movements voluntarily. Just do it with more intensity than what normally happens during a panic attack. Slightly overdo it!
These deliberate jerks will give you a sense of control over the shaking and trembling feelings. This voluntary body movement will make you feel that you can better control the shaking and the movements you experience during the panic attack. This will make give you some relief on the psychological level because you will no longer worry about shaking and trembling. Recovering from anxiety is easy will these body calming strategies.
Do you think this can work for you?
If you do let me know in the comments below— share your experience!