Today I want to talk a little bit about panic attacks. Panic attacks might sound scary. However, if we understand them a little more, we can reduce the fear that they cause us.
We are so busy using our minds to solve problems, think about work, what to eat, who we like, who we don’t, what show we want to watch, our minds are just busy all the time. We also love filling up our schedules, meetings with friends, work, watching tv, spending time at home, going out for a walk. We’re just always doing something.
I’m no stranger to the busy-ness of life and am also guilty of taking on many things. Recently I have decided to slow down a little, and over the past 2 weeks I’ve actually been having a less busy schedule (or so I think). However, with less busy-ness = more time with myself, more time for me to experience and feel things that I’ve probably been shoving in the closet for months. I process my day through my sleep, I get nightmares, or dreams and they usually symbolise things for me. Last night, I had a panic attack while I was sleeping. I was not fearful, but I found it really interesting. I felt an entanglement in my body and a trap-ness and almost out of body experience where I watched myself being entangled. I was confused though, because I had a relaxed day before. That’s when my friend told me he had a similar experience.
Sometimes we have panic attacks because our bodies might not be used to feeling relaxed. It is so used to being on fight or flight mode all the time and suddenly, the adrenaline stops pumping, and the body is confused. “What do I do now” ?!?!? So the body panics. Other times, we experience panic attacks because we are in moments of intense stress (e.g. our boss is yelling at us, we’re in a crowded place and feel trapped, we’re feeling helpless).
A panic attack can happen to anyone, the symptoms may vary and are not limited to but might comprise of the following:
- Increased heart rates
- Sensations of shortness of breathing
- Feelings of choking
- Chest pain/discomfort
- Nausea/abdominal discomfort
- Dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded
- Chills/heat sensations
- Out of body experiences
- Feelings of unreality
- Fear of losing control/dying
Everyone experiences panic attacks differently and it’s normal for anyone to experience it at least once in their lifetime.
When you get a panic attack here’s what you can do:
- Sit down, so that you don’t fall over in case you are feeling dizzy
- Pause whatever you are doing in that moment
- Take a break and breathe
- Speak with kindness to yourself and tell yourself that it’s OK to feel what you are feeling, it can happen to anyone.
- Notice your 5 senses, see whether you can name 2 things that you can see, hear, taste, touch, or smell
If you notice your panic attacks getting more frequent and severe, first seek medical advise from a doctor to make sure that you do not have any underlying medical condition.
Then seek advise from your psychologist or counsellor. Take note of when and where it occurred and how your body felt during those instances.