Panic Pointers #1. Stay Out Of Your Head

Share Button




Panic attack pointer help tips

 

Panic attack pointers help tips

 

Panic Pointers attack help tips

This is my first in a series of posts on how to respond to panic attacks and get them under control.

There are a great many tips out there and I would say that the best ones are the ones that work for you.    I have had some of the oddest tricks and tips work for me.    I couldn’t tell you why.   Some things just “click” with me and others don’t and I think that is probably the case for a lot of people.     So I will try to throw a variety of ideas into this series to give you lots to choose from and try to connect with,  and increase your chances of finding some things that help you.

The first tip I want to give you is:

Stay Out of Your Head

 

Panic attack pointers help tips

 

When you feel the feelings of panic rise up inside you in that way that they do,  keep your mental perspective out of your head,  and keep it focused on what you are feeling.

I know that might seem counter productive, but escaping to our heads and allowing our thoughts and fears to roam free and wild up there only makes the panic more likely to continue or get worse.   Trust me when I say that our heads are the WORST place to be when we are panicking.

Instead,  stay mindful of your situation.   Stay present with your body and either think, or say out loud the feelings that you are experiencing.   Think of yourself as a scientist with a pencil and clipboard in hand,  observing and taking note of the cycle of panic.   Stay calm and collected and follow each observation up with a matter of fact statement that you are okay.   This serves to remind yourself that this cycle is simply the human body doing what the human body does,  and is nothing to be alarmed about.

For example:

My legs are feeling weak and I am okay. 

Now,  I am feeling very overwhelmed and I am still doing fine. 

I am feeling very scared and it will pass.

My heart is racing.   That is normal when panicking.

My hands are feeling very shaky and they will stop soon. 

I feel a strong urge to run away and I am going to sit here and wait that feeling out.  It will pass.

 

Notice how none of the above statements end in a question mark?   

They are all simple observational statements without any negativity.

That is for a reason.  Those of us with panic disorders are very analytical people and that is one thing that can keep the panic flowing.   Do your very best to skip the analyzing and go straight to “monitoring” your panic.

Questions feed panic.

When we start analyzing and asking ourselves “What is this feeling?  What is that feeling?”  our brains response is   “What?? You mean you don’t KNOW??”   and out comes more adrenaline which will increase all those symptoms.     As we all know,  questions don’t just breed more adrenaline…they breed even MORE questions and this only serves to perpetuate the cycle of anxiety.

A better way to respond to panic is to keep your mind in “data gathering” mode.

Instead of “asking” what is going on,  “tell” what is going on.   Be mindful and reassuring of each symptom in a steady methodical way while making sure to keep you breaths calm and deep.    Data gathering uses a different part of your brain than fear does.   It distracts your brain from paying attention to your emotions and it suggests to your brain that you are okay.     You wouldn’t be data gathering if you were in terrible danger, right?    So your brain will gradually shut off the adrenaline and you will slowly start feeling better.

 

Panic Attack pointers help tips

 

Your emotions will try to suck you into questioning your panic attack like a magnet,  but do not entertain any thought that starts with Who,  What,  When,  Where, Why or How.

Those words are completely off-limits.  

When it comes to panic attacks,  stick with just the facts and only the facts.   You have to stay focused in reality.   Your reality at the moment is what you are feeling,   not what your feelings mean.   Do not worry about trying to interpret  what you are feeling.    That will only create more questions and more drama and more panic.   Remember….just the facts.

Keep your voice –   whether it is your “thought”  voice or your actual voice that you are using –  very bland…almost robot like.    Explain your symptoms and feelings as they are happening,  as calmly as you can and as blandly as you can.    I know this is easier in theory than actually trying to put it into practice,     but you might be surprised how much easier it is to keep your voice calm and bland when you are stating facts as opposed to asking questions.

Continue staying with your body,  and out of your head,  for the duration of the panic.   Continue monitoring your panic attack until you feel you are coming down from the peak,  and then take some strong deep breaths and try to get your attention focused onto something else.

 

MONQ Canvas1

 

Another reason this tip can be so helpful is because it forces you to confront your panic instead of hiding from it or trying to deny it.

You are acknowledging your panic and looking it in the eye and I can’t tell you enough how important that is.

From an evolutionary standpoint,  we either run from the things we fear,  or we fight the things that we fear.

By staying with your panic and methodically observing and monitoring it,  you are doing neither of those things.  So the fight or flight system that you triggered with your initial fearful emotions, will believe that you have everything under control and quit sending out the adrenaline that is giving you all your bodily symptoms.

Panic attacks may feel very chaotic and all over the place and as though there is no rhyme or reason to them.   They feel very complex.

But the truth is panic attacks are not complex.  They are actually quite simple… very black and white.   They cannot exist without certain ingredients.   “Head thinking”,   questioning,  and resistance are a few of those ingredients.    Leave them out of the equation and the panic attack cannot survive.

 

Panic attack pointers help tips

 

This tip is one I have actually used and works quite well for me.

I hope it helps some of you as well.  I love, love hearing panic attack tips from people so please share any good ones you may have with me and I will be glad to add them to my Panic Pointers.

If you are looking for some more great tips on getting panic attacks under control, visit this link from UncommonHelp.com. 

Try to stay calm today readers,  no matter what.   Remember,  no worries.

 

 




 

Header Image: Courtesy of Pixabay

AnnaLisa Scott
AnnaLisa Scott is a full time blogger living successfully with an anxiety disorder, who is passionate about helping people change their relationship with anxiety. TheWorryGames.com has helped thousands of people see their anxiety disorders in a new light and manage their symptoms through self empowerment, self care, and other natural methods.

12 Comments

  1. Hey again Lisa:). I deeply feel that everything you say describes me so much.I have been trying so much lately so many times to help myself cope with anxiety.I thought that “It’s ok I got it now.When It happens again I will handle it I can make it”I think all the time positive things about myself , my anxiety then I feel strong I’m so prepared but I feel like it always comes out of nowhere.First was the panic attacks. I coped with them .(breaths positive thoughts) Then there was intrusive thoughts ,overthinking and then anxiety attacks again and it goes on and on.(I also deal with so many anxiety symptoms since a very very young age. Something that I understand now.)Before two days when everything was just fine and I felt amazing ready to cope with anything I had a panic attack again out of nowhere and after it I was so overwhelmed crying I stayed 2 days in bed doing NOTHING but feel like a crap.I was Thinking that If it happened again after all those times that I tried hard for and I didn’t gave up and I trusted myself how can I trust myself anymore? My head is stucked in this cycle (yeah I know the “what If ” thinking.) I loose so many wonderful things of my life and I don’t want to anymore.I have important things to do and I can’t just “stay in bed “anymore crying.I don’t want to let myself down anymore. I believe to myself.I don’t want to give up and I know I won’t I know I have so many wonderful things to do. My mind just seems so confused sometimes that I don’t know where I should start😝 lol Then I think,how after ALL that moments of fear ,confusion,staying in bed like a zombie,then stand up and fall again How can I tell myself that It’s not going to happen again and How can I make it NOT to happen again.I know I’m strong and capable and I can make it 🙂 I know I have a very beautiful powerful mind and all I want is to use it and make wonderful things. I won’t stop until I will make it. (Sorry for the HUGE message that is a mess like my head :p ) I want to say Thank you again because your words really give me much inspiration and motivation to keep going ,helps me understand myself and Thank u for sharing your thoughts and also ways that helps others to cope with it. Xo 🙂

    1. Stella I understand everything you are saying. I myself am in the middle of probably the worst anxiety cycle I have been in in years. I have been living with constant stress for the last 4 months and do you want to know what I have done to take care of myself?

      Nothing. So here I sit dealing with the consequences of pretending like I am not a sensitive person who doesn’t cope with stress well.

      I just kept sweeping my stress under the rug, until eventually, anxiety symptoms started happening. Now I am overly sensitized, over reacting, panicking over the smallest things….crying…being irrational..intrusive thoughts. The whole 9 yards. I feel confused. I feel upset and lost. But you know what? I know its just anxiety. I know I am still in here…I am just in a fog right now and that is okay because I know how to bring myself out of it. I start back at square one with my recovery steps and I learn a lesson from this to take better care of myself next time. I keep telling myself that nothing I am feeling is as bad as it seems and I just trust that I am okay.

      I tell you this not to make your comment all about me, but just to show you that you aren’t alone and even the most “seasoned” of us in anxiety recovery will have to deal with relapses from time to time. The thing is that anxiety symptoms can come back any time and that is a possibility we just have to accept and deal with. It stinks but it is the way it is.

      The good news is that we have some control over when and if they do and how long they stick around. Its all in how well we take care of ourselves and how we speak to ourselves.

      If you are “symptom morphing” – bouncing from symptom to symptom to symptom, that tells me that you are trusting yourself more and learning that anxiety symptoms aren’t something that will kill you or make you crazy, but it also tells me that you are not managing the underlying CAUSE of your anxiety as well as you could be or that you are very resistant to letting go of the sense of control that anxiety gives you so you are sabotaging yourself a bit.

      If you are staying in bed a lot to deal with your anxiety that is understandable and up to a certain point it is a good thing because I firmly believe that when symptoms first erupt, especially, you need that break and that time to just do nothing and heal from stress. However there comes a point as I am sure you know, where you can spend too much time in bed, alone with your thoughts, and that takes you to what I call the Fun House – where you just become so introverted and into your own head that everything else seems “not real” and you feel a bit out of touch with your life and everything becomes “weirdly dramatic”. Again…very normal in every way for people like us but still….its not the best way to speed your recovery along. So at some point its good to push yourself to get out of bed and go for a walk or something else that takes you away from your head for a while.

      It all can be dealt with if you stay consistent with your recovery program, stay out of your head unless you are telling yourself how amazing you are, and just carry on without “what if’ing?”

      You are right you DO have an amazing mind and you are going to be just fine. Just please get professional help if you are feeling so overwhelmed that you can’t carry on, you know? There is no shame in needing more help than I can give or that you can give yourself. xoxo

      1. Thank u so much Lisa for taking time to tell me those things.It really means so much to me that you shared with me some of your situation and it really helps a lot to have someone who can totally understands you.It makes you feel that you are not alone and you can get through this:) .I really aprecciate your comment and it helped me a lot.You are so right. We have to focus so much on our recocery plan that when we miss something even a little thing symptoms come back again.But this is us I guess. But the important thing is that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I have pushed myself so much lately to “get better soomand I guess I don’t have to push myself so much and take my time to feel better one step at a time like you say. And even when the symptoms are back we feel weird but we know that we made it and we can make it again.And something that a special friend of mine said to me “It doesn’t matter how many times you fall.You know you are a champion when you stand up and keep on fighting”And that’s what we do .So ,I really wish you the best on your recovery at the moment I’m sure you’ll be fine .We are strong girls we already know it 🙂 . We will make it .

        (Ps.I will get that professional help because true it can be helpful now that I’m in a very overwhelming state. )

        Sending you hugs and positivity Xoxo

        1. Sorry for the length of my reply! I hit enter and saw it all and thought “Woah!” lol I don’t know how to say anything short and sweet. 🙂 You are right, you don’t have to push yourself hard. As long as, after giving yourself permission to do nothing for a while, you push yourself even just a tiny bit every day…that is enough. And your friend is very wise! You have an amazing attitude and your brain is LOVING hearing how strong you are. Thank you for your well wishes. It helps me to chat to you as well. 🙂 Lisa

  2. You’ve managed to take some of the panic out of panic attacks with this by breaking them down so well (equally applicable I think to general anxiety when it starts to run away with you) . I actually find that the bland/robotic type voice you can use in your head really works very well, when you can manage it, by talking to yourself in a more matter-of-fact way and with a little kindness too. A very useful post, thank you for sharing! x

  3. I like to take long exhales, like blowing out candles on a birthday cake (to a count of about 5 or 6). Slooowwwwing down the exhale seems to really dampen rising panic. And above all, if I’m having panic attacks, my stress cup has “flowed over” which means I need to take a good look at my life and better understand what’s going on, and if I need to create some more rest and relaxation (if possible! I’m a working mom just like you !) 🙂

    1. I like that Kathleen…especially with the association with something nice like a birthday cake and pleasant memories. From one mom to another, thanks for the tip!

  4. Thanks Lisa,
    I’ll look forward to this series of tips for reference. As you probably know, if you’re out of practice with panic, when you feel the sensations rising up you can forget everything you’ve learned & go straight to catastrophe island.
    What I love & get massive reassurance from in your writing, is your ability to describe your internal dialogue. I am ‘me’ and I am ‘my hysterical internal voice’. This duality creates lots of wrestling as I bravely try to save myself from no threat.
    I think most people think that they *are* their thoughts. But we are wrestling with our thoughts, wrestling with ourselves.
    ‘Normal’ people. No, I meant ‘average’ people don’t want to have a conversation about their internal dialogue. Do you talk to yourself in the third person or first? Do you think in your own accent? Can you stop yourself thinking a thought, or is it like saying ‘try not to think about a pink polar bear’. This is because they have never found themselves in fear of their thoughts.
    I often live in that world of introspection and I like to go deep into things. This is where I get into trouble.
    ‘Stay out of your head’ is definitely one to remember!

    1. That deep thinking is a blessing and a curse, isn’t it? lol You know, I honestly don’t think the the “normals” of the world think about their internal dialogue all that much. I don’t know. I always say I would like to be one them for a day just to see what its like in their head and how their thoughts work. They wouldn’t want to come near ours would they? They would think they had landed in a twilight zone episode or something…lol.

      I for one am always chatting with myself in my head. I have two very distinct voices up there….I think we all do…that big voice and the little voice that pipes up from the back row and I think one of the secrets to living successfully as a person with anxiety and as a deep thinking sensitive person, is to acknowledge both of them, set up some ground rules as to which voice is in charge and keep it at that. My whole life has been learning to do that and figuring out that relationship between those two voices and now we all get along pretty well. lol

      Its about respecting that little voices purpose….which is to sort of be a co-pilot for us..and always remembering that its not the head pilot for a reason. It wasn’t designed for that job. I spent half my life letting it run the show and that caused a whole lot of trouble. Its like letting Barney be the Sheriff and Andy the Deputy. Do you have The Andy Griffith show in England? If not you may not get that reference. lol But they are both very nice, well meaning people, and they both serve a purpose but Barney just was never meant to be in charge. He is so dramatic and nervous and such an overreactor that he would accidentally shoot himself or half the people in town if Andy let him keep bullets in his gun.

      Definitely when you are in panic mode you do not want to be talking to the little voice at all. lol Stay far away. Most of us with anxiety have little voices just like Barney and its best to not engage him at all when feeling panicky. Just stay outside your head using your conscious voice..your big voice..your TRUE voice to focus on what actual feelings and talking your way through them and that should make the panic attack subside.

      1. You’re not going to believe this, but my name Is Andy Griffiths!
        I’m sorry. Just kidding! I do get the reference, because of course, I watched far too much tv growing up.
        I think if you could get inside a ‘normal’ head for a day you wouldn’t see any real difference. You just wouldn’t get ‘stuck’. You’d be able to ignore and dismiss things more easily. You’d also be bored stiff!
        I worry more than panic nowadays so A LOT of the sting has been removed from my nervousness. It’s a subject that still absolutely fascinates me and yours is a very clear voice on it. I can’t imagine how many people walk away from your posts with overwhelming happiness that they’re not alone. Such relief!
        Have a lovely day, Lisa. I’m on your side.

        1. Ha! You had me going there for a second. Something tells me you and my husband would get along well. 😉 You are right about the being bored stiff part. I always tell my husband that I can’t imagine what it must be like to be bored. My imagination has never failed to keep me occupied.

          Thanks so much for the kind words and that is great that your level of anxiety is on its way down. That is awesome.

          Thanks for stopping back again!

I'd love to hear from you.......

The Worry Games
%d bloggers like this: