Table of Contents
- 1 How to Stop Panic Attack while Driving
- 2 How to Stop Panic Attack at Work
- 3 How to Stop Panic Attack at Night
- 4 How to Stop Panic Attack before a Big Exam
- 5 Pre-Emptive Strikes against Panic
But now, let’s take a quick look at how to stop panic attacks in certain situations.
How to Stop Panic Attack while Driving
Panic attacks while driving are actually pretty common. In most cases, it is okay to continue driving. However, if you feel uncomfortable doing so, find a safe location and pull over until you are feeling more steady.
Panic attacks while driving can come about due to general stress and worry about other drivers, vehicle issues, road construction, driving in an unfamiliar location and so forth. Uncomfortable seating positions, seat belt constriction and even stressing about having a panic attack can trigger one.
To combat these attacks, first do your homework. If you are not familiar with the area get a map or print driving directions from the internet. If you are worried about road construction, look up alternate routes that you can take to avoid it. A GPS in the car can help take care of both of those issues and is well worth the price. If the seat belt is too constricting, adjust the shoulder strap height or buy a seat belt adjuster clip.
If you feel an attack is coming on:
- Pull over if you feel dizzy or uncomfortable continuing to drive.
- Turn on the radio or listen to a book on tape if you have one to give yourself a distraction.
- Slow your breathing so each breath takes 15 seconds to complete. Inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 3 seconds and exhale for 7 seconds.
How to Stop Panic Attack at Work
Having a panic attack at work is not only embarrassing but can have an impact on your job. Whether it’s work related stress or factors outside of work that you stress about during work hours, there are so many things that can trigger a sudden panic attack.
As with driving, the first step to dealing with them is to find the trigger and look for ways to reduce or eliminate them from your life. If the trigger is job related, talk to your boss about it. They may not realize the pressure you are under.
Other ways to reduce or combat panic attacks at the office include:
- Make use of your employer resources and benefits such as training opportunities, gym memberships, counseling and more.
- Set boundaries and stick to them. Leave your work at work and your home life at home.
- Take frequent breaks. Take a short walk while breathing deep. Drink a glass of water. Stretch while listening to your favorite song.
- Avoid negative nellies and other coworkers who cause you stress.
- Plan ahead, set mini-deadlines and practice time management.
- Celebrate your successes, both big and small.
How to Stop Panic Attack at Night
Nocturnal panic attacks happen while you sleep. All the sudden, you wake up feeling all that anxiety and can’t put your finger on why it’s happening. While pinpointing why nocturnal panic attacks happen can be hard, there are some medical conditions that may trigger them including sleep apnea and acid reflux disease. Nocturnal panic attacks are fairly common. Reports show that 50% – 70% of people will experience a nocturnal panic attack at least once in their lifetime.
If you suspect that sleep apnea or GERD may be part of the problem, speak to your doctor about treatment options. Sleep apnea can raise your risk for high blood pressure, and suffering from anxiety doesn’t make the situation any better.
When you wake up dazed, confused and feeling an overwhelming amount of anxiety try the following steps to overcome it and get back to sleep.
First, wake up. Sit up and give yourself a few minutes to become fully awake. Splash your face with some water, let your pet outside for a potty break or get a drink of water.
Realize you were having a panic attack. Don’t lay there wondering why it happened as the reason isn’t important. Don’t turn on the TV or start reading a book. It will not give you the distraction you are hoping for in order to fall asleep. Quite opposite: it will keep you engaged so that falling asleep becomes almost impossible.
Since waking up in a full blown panic tends to leave you in a daze, keep a list by your bed with reminders of what helps ease your panic attacks such as deep breathing exercises, meditating or EFT tapping.
Once you feeling more calm, lay down, get comfortable and try to fall back to sleep.
How to Stop Panic Attack before a Big Exam
Passing an exam is stressful. Typically, a few days to a week ahead of the exam, the student starts to stress. They may get so focused on studying (and worrying) that they fail to eat well, they don’t get enough sleep and perhaps they let their body get dehydrated. By the time test day arrives, the body and mind is already stressed so it doesn’t take much to trigger a panic attack.
When they sit to take the exam, the mind can go blank, the student’s blood stream fills with excessive amounts of stress hormones like adrenaline, their heart starts thumping, they get dry mouth, they feel dizzy, sick or out of breath.
Of course, the best way to prevent this is to take action the week prior to the exam. Ensure you are eating well, drinking plenty of water and getting enough rest. The night before the exam, don’t study. If you’ve been studying (and you really should have! Make sure you leave enough time for that), you already know the material so there’s no need to go through it again if it causes you stress. You can get up an hour early if you wish to go through your notes once more.
On the exam day you can reduce your symptoms by:
- Go for a walk prior to the exam. Stretch your body so you are more relaxed. Get fresh air.
- Remind yourself that the panic will end & while uncomfortable, it’s not dangerous. It cannot hurt you in any way.
- Think positive thoughts. Visualize yourself as being calm and confident. Think of passing the exam with flying colors.
- Meditate, or listen relaxing music.
- If you do start to panic, try to regulate your breathing. Take slow, deep breaths that last at least 15 seconds – 5 seconds on inhale, hold for 3 seconds, 7 seconds on exhale. Breathe into your cupped hands over your nose and mouth, or a paper bag to take in more carbon dioxide. You can also breathe through your sleeve.
- Distract yourself by counting backwards from 50, doodling on a piece of paper, or looking at what the people around you are wearing.
While these suggestions are specific to each location, all of the suggestions we’ve talked about previous as well as the upcoming ideas can help you reduce or eliminate most panic attacks.
Pre-Emptive Strikes against Panic
So, these are some of the best ways to deal with panic and anxiety. However, you might want to also look into what types of pre-emptive strikes against panic and anxiety you can take on, as well.
There are several ways of doing this:
Change your perception
If you’ve had panic attacks before, you are no stranger to them and should know by now that you can and certainly will survive them. Once you step out of fear against panic attacks, you step into more freely living.
When you fear your panic attacks and not knowing when or where you will have them, you give those panic attacks so much power. Take back your power by living into the understanding that, while they are of course uncomfortable, they are not the end of the world.
Repeat this to yourself as many times as you need to or keep a journal about it, as well. No matter what you do, changing your perception around panic attacks is crucial. You can, will, and most certainly have survived them. Don’t give them all that power. Take back your power.
Watch the foods you eat
There are many foods you can eat which will produce a more calming effect for you. If you drink too much caffeine, for example, you might (as an anxious person) want to look into replacing that with decaffeinated coffee or herbal teas, like chamomile tea or peppermint tea (this brand has deliciously crisp and powerful peppermint taste, personally I just love it!). There is also a variety of good-quality caffeine-free tea blends that are worth trying out. There are so many herbal teas on the market that you will be surprised at how delicious and good all-around they really and truly are for you.
Hydrating yourself with plenty of water is also essential. Dehydration can lead to anxiety and you want to, of course, avoid that all costs.
Drop the sugar completely from your diet. Read the labels and avoid all sugars, syrups and maltodextrin, they all spike your blood sugar levels and make also harm to your metabolism in the long run. Remember that also starches are sugar, so replace rice, corn and potatoes with nutritious veggies like broccoli or leafy greens. Try mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, or cauliflower rice instead of regular rice, they beat the starchy staples in every aspect.
Avoid fruits and especially fruit juices. Modern fruits are highly cultivated. They are nature’s candies which have almost nothing to do with the fruits our ancestors ate. When you drink fruit juice, it’s like you would be injecting insulin in yourself. Think about that next time when you are about to grab that bright orange, “drink-me-right-now” shouting jar in the grocery store! Grab a bottle of water instead.
Get a move on
If you lead a sedentary lifestyle like sitting a desk all day, not getting enough fresh air and sunshine, then you are pretty much inviting anxiety in to play. Get a move on, even if it’s just going for a walk or sitting by the water for a few minutes daily. This will work wonders on your mood and lift your spirits for a long time afterward.
Get in touch with reality
Talk to other people, look at your past experiences with anxiety. It’s never done any of the horrible things you thought it would do to you and you are still around to talk and even laugh about it.
You can make light of it by reminiscing with a family member, “Remember that time the elevator started slowing down and I thought it was the end of the world?” Come to terms that this is a part of your personality and also come to realize that you are more than capable of managing it. Ask yourself some pertinent questions:
- How many times have I had a panic attack in front of someone and they still love me?
- How many times have I had a panic attack and came out of it just fine?
- Have I had a panic attack and feared the worst only to realize that the fear and the thought were so far away from reality that it was actually unrealistic?
- Has there ever been a time where something uncomfortable happened and I got through it just fine? As a matter of fact, didn’t everyone already forget about that (expect me)?
Stay in tune with the reality of your situation and you will begin to understand that your fight or flight mode is simply in overdrive.
Watch your self-talk
When you have a panic attack or just not knowing when the next one is going to come up, watch your self-talk. Don’t hate yourself because of it. Look at the spectacular benefits of your panic and anxiety.
You are probably wondering what could possibly be good about panic and anxiety, but here are a few:
- You are more cautious
- You make better judgements and assessments
- You are exquisitely sensitive and may be more artistic and creative because of it
- You look before you leap
- You make careful well-thought out decisions
These are just to name a few. When you begin to realize that you are not as bad as you thought you were, new doors of possibility open up for you. You can then begin (importantly) to not only like yourself more, but you can begin to accept and love yourself more, too.
After all, if everyone in your world likes and loves you just the way you are, why not like and love yourself just as much too?
Of course, there are other modalities for keeping calm. You can begin a meditation practice that is right for you. Take on a yoga class or buy yoga DVD and try that on for size. With any method you take on as a holistic approach to curing your anxiety, give it plenty of time. With plenty of time, you will receive the benefits and bonuses of having stuck with something until you see success.
Any time you stick with something and achieve success, especially for those with panic attack disorder, you begin to gain a feeling of achievement and self-confidence. Most importantly, you get to see firsthand that you are in control. You get to see that you are in self-control before your panic attack and most importantly, during your panic attack.
Sometimes you simply need to prove it to yourself and see how reliable and resourceful you really are. You may find yourself one of those people who need someone to accompany them to a doctor’s appointment, up an elevator or any other place where support is needed “just in case” a panic attack pops up.
You may want to consider taking on small challenges for yourself such as raising your hand and speaking up in front of others or walking into a new place by yourself. If you are like most people, this is scary as it gets. However, it does get easier with practice. You can walk up to someone and say hello to them even if they are a complete stranger. You can make a comment in a group setting. You can ride that elevator by yourself.
The more you challenge yourself, you can hold on to positive memories of how you have achieved success in these areas and how you can survive your worst (self-imposed) fears of gloom and doom. You will be the winner who finally could beat the anxiety and panic attacks.
And remember, there will be times when you will be faced with a fear like not having your comment be understood or introducing yourself to a complete stranger who is rather cold towards you. As long as you don’t take anything internally and don’t make it about you, you can move forward graciously. If you start panicking or feeling anxious, observe your feelings, don’t be swept up by them. Be an outsider rather than one who gets involved with all the negative feelings that are rushing into your mind and body.
Remember, these things happen to everyone now and again and we all survive it. Our friends and families still adore us and our co-workers and other communities still need our valuable skills. Don’t make too much of it and you will begin to see your anxieties dwindle along with your panic.