As per Selye (1936), stress can be defined as the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change. However, what happens when the body gets overloaded with emotions? What happens when the mind completely shuts? What happens when you lose control over the situation? If all these things happen a bit too much, your self-esteem takes a real punch.
A panic attack strikes suddenly and we feel intense fear and discomfort till it reaches its peak within minutes. Some of the signs of a panic attack are as follows: palpitations, racing heart, sweating, trembling, shaking and shortness of breath. Personally, I have experienced panic attacks while sleeping and it’s surely not the right time you want to deal with things like this as the body needs to be at rest at that time and it’s something you don’t want to deal with during a quiet and lonely night where the feeling of fear and despair get the better of you. Negative thoughts show their ugly faces during this phase as well to make things more complicated.
How do we cope with panic attack in a mindful way?
First, let me tell you that when you start to practise the following techniques, the impact will be less as the emotions will still be overwhelming. Nevertheless, with practice, the panic attacks will have less effect on you. They will still come from time to time as it’s a natural thing to panic but they won’t affect you as you continue practising the following methods.
Please find below a few things we can consider:
- Is it real?
I am quite sure that this makes you angry as the feelings of despair are real. You feel so bad. However, I have been there. No matter how bad you are feeling, with mindfulness, you can realize that you are not the thoughts and emotions you are experiencing at the moment. What I do is that when the feelings come up, instead of reacting to them, I consciously drop my shoulders and tell myself that all these things happening are not real. As the attack reaches its peak, you stay calm and centered and you will be less affected. Please refer to my article on the nature of thoughts on the following link to understand more what I am trying to tell:
2. Deep breathing
Breathing deeply has so many benefits as it detoxifies the body, improves the circulation of blood and settles the mind. There are specific ways in which we can breathe which will help us stay grounded. I have talked about correct breathing in the following article and these can be incorporated to our daily routine to lower the effect of panic attacks and stress in general. Please see article here: https://attentiveness.art.blog/2019/07/29/correct-breathing/
3. Increasing our awareness
Increasing our awareness by looking around, appreciating the different colours, shapes and textures with a nonjudgmental approach is such a powerful exercise and way of living. For example, you can listen without applying labels from the loudest to the faintest sound. You can touch the ground and feel the connection. You can also visualize the release of anxious feelings as cloud floating away in the sky or coming out of your head. I have recorded a grounding exercise I have recently done which summarizes the concepts we have just discussed. Please find it on the following link: https://clyp.it/vrwmsqd5
4. Expressing gratitude
We focus so much on our cravings, problems and all the things that don’t work in our lives. Do we take time to be grateful for the air we breathe, the legs which allow us to walk, the eyes which allow us to see, our jobs which allow us to make a difference in the lives of people, the close friends we have, our children, wife or husband who we have in our lives, our brother or sister or the most basic fact of being alive? Millions of people dies every day and here we are here. We can find an unlimited number of things to be grateful about and yet we focus on minor things which don’t improve our lives. Why? Wake up.. You won’t live forever.
I hope you found it useful.
Lots of love and blessings,