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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

4 Things That Help Calm Me When I Am Having a Panic Attack

In my experience, and from what I have read by other people with my disorder, panic attacks can often come on without a warning or a known trigger. Last night I was in the most comforting, warm, soft place I could think of — my bed, with my fleece bedding and soft blanket. My music played softly, and a sleep-safe scented candle burned nearby. I felt pretty far from the place you would expect panic to set in. However, it did, and I shot up from my prone position and began to hyperventilate. My heart rate jumped into the 110-plus range, and I felt dizzy. I flipped open my computer — having told my therapist I would try to document my attacks — and I hit record and started to talk about where my head was. 
This got me thinking. I have a list of methods I use to try to shorten the duration of my panic attack, and often they work really well for me. So here they are:
1. Cold: Thank God for the winter — in my case — because this is actually my most effective technique. I open my bedroom window, sit nearby, and it lets in a deep chill. The cold calms me down pretty quickly and without any real effort on my part — which allows me to focus on my other skills.
2. Chamomile Tea, Lukewarm: Once my window is open, if I am not totally debilitated, I go make myself a cup of hot chamomile tea. I place it on my desk to get to lukewarm. At that temperature, it helps calm me and slows my panic into a humming anxiety — which I can deal with more easily. 
3. Classical Music: I turn on “Canon in D” on the violin and let it play on repeat. If the first two techniques are not helping for whatever reason, this is my go-to.
4. Sensory Intake Survey: This one is simple. I stop and observe the following:
  • 1 thing you can taste
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 4 things you can feel
  • 5 things you can see
It helps get me out of the panic and into the real world again. It’s often effective for me in a need-to-calm-down-right-now kind of way.
There you have it — my four skills for coming out of a panic attack. I hope they might help someone else, too.

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