Panic attacks are one of the most common mental health issues modern people encounter. They usually appear between adolescence and adulthood (approximately until the age of 35). The reason for this is that most of the people start leaving alone at this age. Leaving the safety of family home and stepping out into the world can be overwhelming. That doesn’t mean younger, or older people can’t have panic attacks. Whenever there is a life change that involves losing security without support in a new situation, panic can appear.
What happens to your body when anxiety is high?
Panic attacks start suddenly. They come, when you expect them the least, they are overwhelming and physically exhausting. Panic starts with anxiety that slowly grows. Your heart starts beating hard, you feel like you are losing your breath, your palms are sweaty, you feel light-headed.
Typical thoughts that appear are that you are going to die, go crazy, or get seriously sick. These thoughts increase anxiety even more, so very often people develop a fear of panic attacks.
What can you do about it?
If you experience panic attacks often, and they prevent you from functioning, I would advise you to search for a counselor. There are many English speaking counselors in Brno, and if you don’t want to leave your home, you can find a therapist who works online.
Alongside therapy, you can try one of the following techniques that will help you relax. Please note that it would be best to do this at home or in a safe environment. Spend every day a few minutes doing this and you will reduce anxiety.
- Grounding exercises– Grounding exercises are meant to ground you in the present moment. My clients find them useful because they are easy to do, and they help them stop anxiety from intensifying:
- First of those exercises is naming 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. These exercises should be done slowly, with long breaths between each object you name.
- The second exercise is a modified version of Quigong and Tai Chi rooting exercises. You start by standing up and focusing on your breath. After a few breaths, focus on your feet, primarily on the surface of your feet that is touching the ground. Start imagining roots growing from your foot into the ground. With every breath, the roots are getting stronger and making your connection to the ground and your breaths stronger. After you feel calmer, try moving your weight from one leg to another, or standing on one leg.
- Breathing exercises are known for helping with anxiety. They improve your blood flow and help your body get more oxygen. Because of this, they are a good way to fight panic attacks. You can find examples of breathing exercises here: https://www.healthline.com/health/breathing-exercise
- When you feel the anxiety rising, write down everything you are aware of at that moment- What are your thoughts? What are you doing? What is around you? Where are you? This simple exercise stops anxiety from increasing, and it helps you connect better to your therapist.