There are medications, as well as behavioral therapies, to help control panic attacks. But the following relaxation strategies can help to ease your episodes while they are happening.
1. Get as comfortable as possible. If you are home, sit or lie down. If you are in a public place, find a quiet corner and just try to blend in with the scene.
2. Escape the now by reciting to yourself the words to a favorite song or poem, or rehash a great time at a party or event. Lose yourself in the intricate details.
3. Focus on your breathing. Picture a balloon before it’s blown up. Using slow, deep breaths, gently fill the balloon with your breath and imagine the expanded balloon. Repeat this five to 10 times.
4. Practice tightening and relaxing each muscle group until your body regains its balance.
5. Repeat to yourself your own positive statement, such as, “I am calmly waiting for this feeling to pass,” or, my personal favorite, “I am on a beach in Bermuda and the sky is blue.” Repeat your positive statement over and over again until you find yourself in control of the symptoms.
6. Consider writing in a journal during the actual panic attack. This may offer you insight about what to do to help yourself the next time it comes on.
When the panic attack is over, don’t waste too much time thinking about it or worrying about when it may happen again. Make it a point to do something you enjoy, such as take a walk, hug your dog, or call a friend.
Jamie Kyle McGillian is the author of The Kids' Money Book (Sterling.)